Elisha Thornton Jr. House
20 Seventh Street, New Bedford, MA
The grandson of a Quaker preacher who was an early opponent of slavery, Elisha Thornton Jr. began his career as a druggist who later invested in eight whaling vessels. In his house at Seventh and Spring streets, Thornton sheltered Daniel Fisher, who took the name William Winters when he reached the North after his self-emancipation from slavery, lived with Thornton until 1856. A fire claimed the house in the 1990s and the lot is now vacant. The New Bedford Historical Society has recently claimed this lot which is directly across from the Johnson homestead, with a plan to establish a small park as a cornerstone of the neighborhood, to celebrate the abolitionist history and spirit of the people behind the mansions.
Local history and self-guided tours are presented in collaboration with the New Bedford Historical Society and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. Visitors can also access interactive digital components, VR tours, and videos originally created for the New Bedford Historical Society and UMass Dartmouth’s exhibition, Black Spaces Matter: Celebrating New Bedford’s Abolition Row.
This exhibition will be shown free and open to the public in downtown New Bedford outdoors at the YMCA green space on Union Street, between N. 2nd Street and N. Water Street from June 16 to September 12.
The Black Spaces Matter project is collaboration between UMass Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts students and faculty, local New Bedford experts, and the New Bedford Historical Society.
Black Spaces Matter was exhibited from November 19, 2017 — January 29, 2018 at the Boston Architectural College’s McCormack Gallery, 320 Newbury St. Boston, MA, and from November 8, 2018 — January 30, 2019 at UMass Dartmouth’s University Gallery, 715 Purchase St. New Bedford, MA 02740.
Black Spaces Matter is supported by New Bedford Historical Society, Creative Economy Fund from the Office of the UMass President, UMass Dartmouth Provost Office, Perkins + Will Associates, Rotch–Jones–Duff House and Garden Museum, Spinner Publications, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.
Consultant: Lee Blake | Lead curator: Pamela Karimi | Architectural renderings, model production, and maps: Pedram Karimi and students in Architecture and Sustainability class | Film, animation, and digital curation: Don Burton | Artistic representations: Michael Swartz | Consultants for the Documentaries: Janine da Silva, Ann Marie Lopes | Advertisement and graphic design: Ziddi Msangi, Racsa Soun, Vasco Pedro and students in Community Engagement Design studio | Digital stations: Michael Swartz, Don Burton, Ben Guan-Kennedy, and Merri Cyr | Production Manager: Jennifer McGrory | Curatorial assistance: CVPA students, Cynthia Raposa, Mark Walker, and gallery director, Viera Levitt.