New Antiques and Architectural Salvage District in City

Antiques Present Classic ‘Opportunity’ for City
Showrooms to Open Blocks Apart in South End
By Jack Spillane, Standard-Times Staff Writer

NEW BEDFORD — Two expansive antiques showrooms will soon be located in the South End, marking what some hope will be the emergence of the city as a regional antiques center.

The New Bedford Antiques, located in the Fairhaven Mills for the past 20 years, will close tomorrow and relocate (under new ownership) to the Family Furniture and Carpet building on West Rodney French Boulevard. A few blocks away, the Wareham-based New England Demolition and Salvage — known on public television’s “This Old House” for its salvaged claw-foot bathtubs and antique doors and shutters — will relocate its architectural antiques center to one of the Cove Street mills once operated by Berkshire Hathaway.

Both operations expect to open for business in January and will consume in the vicinity of 100,000 square feet of show space compared to the roughly 35,000 square feet at the current New Bedford Antiques.

The New Bedford Antiques operation will be renamed New Bedford Antiques at the Cove.

“I think it’s going to be an opportunity to continue to build a brand,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang, noting that Hudson, N.Y., went from being a nondescript city to a destination spot for antiques dealers.

The Berkshire complex is already home to several other antiques business, and Acushnet River Antiques, another long-standing antiques business, is located in a mill just south of Interstate 195 in the Hicks-Logan district.

Visitors traveling down Route 18 to the South End antiques centers will go right by the downtown historic districts and restaurants, the mayor acknowledged.

“We’re bringing people right into the belly of the whale now,” he said.

Alan Herman, a dealer in scrimshaw-type artifacts at the old New Bedford Antiques Center, said he had been considering the possibility of using the Family Furniture building as an antiques center ever since the Fairhaven Mills operation almost closed last year. At that time, it appeared a Home Depot would be built at the site of the former mill just off Interstate 195. The owner of New Bedford Antiques, Felix Petrarca, had planned to relocate to one of the buildings near the old Wamsutta Mill complex.

Several months ago, Mr. Herman, however, said he mobilized the move to the Family Furniture building after Mr. Petrarca informed his tenants he would close the business at Fairhaven Mills on Nov 30. Mr. Petrarca has been extremely helpful to him and his partners in the move, he said.

Mr. Herman will partner in the new operation with two friends and New Bedford businessmen, Steven Lefkowitz and Judd Zeitz. Mr. Lefkowtiz is a co-owner of the Family Furniture building, where a retail furniture business is located.

Mr. Herman said his group is talking with the New Bedford Economic Development Council about the possibility of Interstate 195 signs directing visitors to a South End antiques district.

“This is what we’re hoping for — that New Bedford becomes an antiques center,” he said.

The development council was instrumental in helping New England Demolition and Salvage in moving to the city.

It arranged for a $100,000 EDC “gap” loan. The loan enabled the banks to approve the purchase of three former Berkshire Hathaway mills, located at 73 and 93 Cove Street.

The total loan for the purchase, financed by Bank Five of Fall River, was $2.3 million, said Matthew Morrissey, the EDC executive director. Banks often want their borrowers to come up with a small component of their projects, he said.

“It’s going to be a massive, massive place,” said Mr. Morrissey of the construction salvage center.

“This is clearly an opportunity for the city.”

Jeanine James, who along with her husband Harry owns New England Demolition and Salvage, said the business had outgrown its Wareham location at the former Ocean Spray cranberry building.

As the space needs for their 8-year-old business grew, it became cost-prohibitive to rent space at the Wareham location so the couple decided they needed to purchase their own building, she said.

New England Salvage has actually purchased three Berkshire buildings. The architectural antiques business, along with some individual antiques dealers, will be located at 73 Cove St. New England Salvage will continue to rent space to factory and storage tenants at the other two Berkshire buildings, she said.

“New Bedford Economic Development worked really hard to get us. They really welcomed us to New Bedford,” Mrs. James said.

Mr. Morrissey said the EDC will meet Friday to talk about marketing strategies for the two showrooms.

Suddenly the city has two large, antiques-related businesses located quite close to each other, he said. “We’re going to leverage every bit of this we can,” he said.

Contact Jack Spillane at
Date of Publication: November 29, 2006 on Page A05