Creative Restoration: The Cummings Building, Downtown New Bedford Readies for Living-Loft Spaces

When Dubliner Phillip Dwane set foot in New Bedford four years ago, he could’ve sworn he was in his native Erin.
“New Bedford reminds me of old Dublin— especially along the docks—before Dublin was developed. I don’t want to say ‘magical,’ because that’s cliché, but downtown New Bedford has got character—a unique, old-European charm,” said Dwane, who recently purchased two buildings downtown.
He’s currently restoring a building behind the Whaling Museum, at 42 North Water St., which he plans to turn into a coffee house on the first floor and luxury condos on the second and third floors.
Dwane and his business partner, Bill Bennett, both of Martha’s Vineyard, also recently purchased the Cummings Building, at the corner of Purchase and William streets.
Dwane said they plan to start restoration by winter 2008 with current plans to renovate the top two floors into living-loft spaces.
“Downtown revitalization continues to move ahead, piece by piece. We are making steady progress and believe Bill Bennett and Phil Dwane are the latest example of investors seeing the opportunities New Bedford affords,” said Matthew A. Morrissey, New Bedford Economic Development Council executive director. .
“This is a key building where the core downtown business area, the elements of the creative economy — including the colleges — and the nearby historic district converge,” he said.
“We’re going to renovate the front façade and replace the windows with architecturally-correct windows that should be in that building. Basically, we want to breathe life into a tired old lady,” Dwane said.
He and Bennett take painstaking efforts to meticulously restore their properties.
“We have some old photos we’ve reviewed of what the Cummings Building used to look like in the 1940s,” Dwane said.
“We’re very passionate about our projects. We put passion into the buildings,” Dwane said.
Not only do Dwane and Bennett care deeply about downtown, but they care about the world around it. They recycle as much of the old building materials as possible in their restoration.
The bottom line is Dwane and Bennett see a beauty in downtown New Bedford that more and more investors, developers, and those interested in historic restoration are starting to see, too.
“I’ve brought people here and they feel like they’ve been here before. It’s that old-world appeal, that European architecture. And it’s striking. The character and the buildings are striking,” Dwane said.
“There are buildings on the Vineyard that (developers) are trying to replicate what’s already here in New Bedford,” he said.
“We are very comfortable with our investments in the city, and intend to do more investing down the road. We’ve gotten very attached to New Bedford.”
September 8, 2008

Scroll to Top
Get news from New Bedford Economic Development Council in your inbox

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: New Bedford Economic Development Council, 1213 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA, 02740, http://nbedc.org. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact