Jewish Community Center

Jewish Community Center, 1947-1972

The Jewish Community Center
From the old Tifereth Israel on Sixth Street, continue one block south to the next corner, turn right onto Cherry Street and go to County Street where the JCC was located in the William Rotch Rodman mansion.

Dedication of the center on 23rd March 1947, Fisher Abramson cut the ribbon
Dedication of the Center on March 23, 1947 Fisher Abramson cut the ribbon.

After the Second World War Jewish life continued to thrive, especially with the purchase of a building to serve as the Jewish Community Center.

The magnificent Greek revival mansion at 388 County Street, better known as the William Rotch Rodman Mansion, was home of the first mayor of New Bedford and site of the Jewish Community Center from 1947 to 1972. The process of acquiring a building for the Jewish Community Center of New Bedford began in 1940.The Tifereth Israel Synagogue purchased the Nowell Estate property ( 95 Madison St. ) with funding from the New Bedford Council of Jewish Women and the Young Women’s Hebrew Association. However, the Nowell Estate was never used as a Jewish Center, but was occupied by and rented to the Women’s Civilian Defense Corps during World War II. The property was then sold, and the Synagogue purchased the another property at Sixth and Madison . When the Rotch mansion, owned by Walter Langshaw from 1919 to 1945, went on the market, the synagogue quickly purchased it. The building was then renovated for the purpose of housing the Jewish Community Center. The formal dedication of the Center was held on March 23, 1947 .

Bowling banquet, 1950s
Bowling Banquet, 1950s. Pictured, from left, Elliott Horowitz, Betty Horowitz, Bunny Russo, Jack Gould, Ann Gould, Ann Eisner and Izzie Eisner.

Nursery school, 1966-1967
Nursery school, 1966-1967

The building housed classrooms for the Synagogue’s Hebrew and Sunday Schools, Boy and Girl Scout troops, the Sisterhood Library, Synagogue offices, as well as various meeting rooms, lounges, and a music room. The nursery school was in the basement and the Hebrew school on the 3rd floor; and a scout annex occupied the garage behind the building. The purpose of the center was to foster Jewish cultural and spiritual values as well as to organize and support programs that would enrich and guide all aspects of Jewish life. There were many activities for men, women, and children included social and literary education, music, art, drama, recreation and athletics.

Once the focus of the community shifted to the West End , with the opening of the new Tifereth Israel synagogue in 1966, the center eventually closed and many of the activities shifted to the Brownell Street location. In 1972, the building was sold to the Swain School of Design and housed painting studios and administrative offices. The Swain School closed in 1988, and today the building is the home of an insurance company and several lawyers’ offices.

Back to Tour Outline 
Next to Segall Square