A new park and historic district will be opening this spring in New Bedford, celebrating those local residents who, in the 1800s, helped men and women traveling through New Bedford via the Underground Railroad to find freedom.

Abolition Row Park and HIstoric District is located at Spring and Seventh Streets, and has been the dream of educator and historian Lee Blake and the New Bedford Historical Society for many years.

Blake joined Townsquare Sunday this week to talk about the park and the importance of the historic district.

"A number of people at the New Bedford Historical Society were looking at a vacant lot on Seventh Street, and wondering what we could do with it," Blake said. "We came up with an idea to celebrate the abolitionist movement in the city of New Bedford, and city government has moved forward on that idea, creating an Abolition Row Historic District."

Barring any major weather delays, Blake expects the park to be completed sometime in May, with a statue of a young Frederick Douglass to be installed at about that time.

Blake said while most artwork depicts Douglass as an older, distinguished man, the New Bedford statue will depict him as he was when he arrived in the city: a young man, around 20 years old, wearing work clothes and sitting on a pile of rope on the waterfront.

The Nathan and Polly Johnson House in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which was once home to abolitionist Frederick Douglass
Google Maps

Blake said the Abolition Row Historic District will highlight a little-known part of the city's history.

"The district will be about six blocks long, with a number of homes of  abolitionists who were active in the Underground Railroad movement at that time, and all the homes are in wonderful shape," she said.

Blake sees the district as "a wonderful walking tour" that focuses on an important part of the city's history.

For complete details on Abolition Row Park, the new Historic District, and some thoughts on Black History Month, listen here:

Townsquare Sunday is a public affairs program heard every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. on WBSM. The program spotlights non-profit organizations and individuals working to improve the lives of people living and working on the SouthCoast.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at jim.phillips@townsquaremedia.com.

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