Opening September 21, 2018

Captain Paul Cuffe Park

The groundbreaking ceremony of Captain Paul Cuffe Park was March 26 at the corner of Johnny Cake Hill and Union Street in New Bedford.

Give to the Captain Paul Cuffe Park project.

Help us honor one of New Bedford’s most prominent men by supporting the creation of this new, urban green space. LEARN MORE


One of maritime New England’s most remarkable figures, Captain Paul Cuffe (1759-1817) was a Quaker businessman, sea captain, patriot, and abolitionist that lived on the South Coast. Born on Cuttyhunk Island, he was of Wampanoag and Ashanti descent and helped colonize Sierra Leone. Cuffe built a lucrative shipping empire and established the first racially integrated school in Westport, Mass. He rose to prominence to become one of the wealthiest men of color in the nation. His petition to protest taxation of people of color while withholding the right to vote was an important step in granting full citizenship rights in Massachusetts and he was one of the first black men to have a formal meeting with a sitting U.S. president.

To honor his legacy, the Museum established Captain Paul Cuffe Park in 2011 near the site where he operated his store, Cuffe & Howards. Since the construction of the Wattles Jacobs Education Center, the Museum now has the opportunity to expand Cuffe Park and elevate this tribute to his regional impact as a prominent merchant, community leader, and advocate of equal rights.

The new design has been approved by the New Bedford and Massachusetts Historical Commissions. The design will quadruple the footprint of the park and, in collaboration with an advisory committee, the Museum will install interpretive outdoor exhibits, open a new exhibition within the Museum, and develop a slate of educational programming surrounding Cuffe and his legacy.

Learn more about Captain Paul Cuffe.


Design sketches below provided by Civitects PC

a view of park design from Johnny Cake Hill


A view of the park design from above


A view of the park design from Union Street


Nye Lubricants Commits $100,000 to Captain Paul Cuffe Park

Nye Lubricants has generously committed $100,000 to support the construction of  Captain Paul Cuffe Park. Founded in 1844, Nye Lubricants is one of longest operating manufacturing companies on the South Coast, successfully adapting its business model from the production of whale oil lubricants to the production, manufacturing, and sale of synthetic lubricants.  Moreover, Nye has a long history of giving back to the local community and has actively supported the Whaling Museum for several decades. The Museum’s trustees thank Nye Lubricants for this extraordinary gift!

“The Whaling Museum brings together our region’s past, present, and future through its unique integration of local history, industry, and culture. It is exceptional in bringing this story to the public through its education programs, in its leadership role in the historic renovations on Johnny Cake Hill, and now with the newly expanded Paul Cuffe Park. I am proud to be able to provide meaningful support for these important achievements.”

George B. Mock III, President and CEO of Nye Lubricants


Supporters of Captain Paul Cuffe Park*

We acknowledge and thank the following donors who have  contributed to this project.

Island Foundation

Nye Lubricants
Anonymous, 1 donor

Carol Taylor & John Deknatel

Paul & Elaine Chervinsky
Elizabeth T. &  Morris W. Kellogg

Marguerite & H. F. Lenfest
Susan & R. Michael Rich
James Russell
Anne & Ed Strauss
Helen Trumbull

*As of December 19, 2017


Project Team

Architect: Civitects PC

Landscape Design: Sinton and Michener

Engineer: Farland Corp

Project Manager: Page Building Construction Co.

Building & Grounds Committee Chair: John N. Garfield, Jr.


Naming Opportunities now Available!

Donors who give $5,000 or more to Captain Paul Cuffe Park will receive name recognition within the Park. This is a unique opportunity to make a gift in memory or in honor of a loved one. Please contact Sarah Budlong, Director of Development, at or call 508-717-6850.