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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.
Free and open to the public


About Captain Paul Cuffe and the redesigned Cuffe Park

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.