Most of us would agree that Downtown New Bedford needs more parking spaces.

Do you miss the Kerwin Garage yet?

The Kerwin Memorial Parking Facility – known colloquially as  Kerwin Garage – was constructed in 1962 on William Street, where the Custom House Square Park now stands. The facility was named for Ernest W. Kerwin, an assistant to the president of Wing's Department Store.

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Kerwin strongly advocated for increasing the parking capacity in Downtown New Bedford in the 1950s. He supported the construction of the garage. Unfortunately, Kerwin died in 1961, a year before the dedication of the new parking facility. He was 64.

The Kerwin Memorial Parking Facility accommodated more than 200 vehicles.

Remembering Downtown New Bedford's Kerwin Garage
Spinner Publications

Mayor Fred Kalisz demolished the crumbling garage portion of the facility in 1998, leaving a grade-level parking lot in its place.

Some argued in favor of restoring the Kerwin Garage rather than demolishing it, suggesting it was more convenient for shoppers and visitors to the downtown than the Elm Street Garage located blocks away.

Mayor Jon Mitchell unveiled plans in 2013 for a new urban park on the site of the Kerwin parking lot. Custom House Square Park was dedicated on Thursday, September 12, 2013, during the monthly AHA! celebration.

Taylor Cormier/Townsquare Media
Taylor Cormier/Townsquare Media

Park developer and New Bedford native Chris Reed, a principal with Boston-based Stoss Landscape Urbanism, donated his services for the project.

Reed called the park "a lush, green outdoor living room for the city."

Custom House Square Park is beautiful, albeit underutilized, but Downtown New Bedford could have benefited from restoring the Kerwin Memorial Parking Facility.

Buildings Featured in the New Bedford Pathways Historical Walking Tours

A series of new app-based walking tours called New Bedford Pathways will teach the unique architecture of New Bedford and stories of the people who have dwelled among it. Here, New Bedford Preservation Society Administrator Pat Daughton, who produced the tours, shares a photo of one stop from each of the tours along with information about the location.

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