Merrill’s Wharf National Register Historic District
The Merrill’s Wharf National Register Historic District contains just under one acre of land on the New Bedford Waterfront and includes the Coral Pocket Pier, the Steamship Authority Pier, the unaltered portion of Merrill’s Wharf, and the Merrill’s Wharf Building. The Wharf Building is also known as the Bourne Counting House and the Durant Sail Loft.
The three piers retain their original wooden pilings and wooden plank surfacing. he Coral Pocket Pier was built in the 1850s as a whaling pier for Captain Merrill’s operations. It was later used as an unloading site for coal for the utility company, to came to be known by its present name. It is now used by the city’s lobster boats.
The Steamship Authority Pier was built in 1838 and was the debarking points for boats to the island for well over 100 years. In the 1950s the Steamship Authority moved to Woods Hole. The pier is presently used by lobstermen.
The Merrill’s Wharf Building was built in 1847-1848 and originally stood 3-1/2 stories with a ridge roof topped by a cupola and full gables with loading doors on the facade and rear elevations. The attic loft floor was removed after a fire in 1926. Original fenestration was 6/6 sash windows.
The Merill’s Wharf historic District is significant as the only remaining unaltered portion of New Bedford’s 19th century waterfront. The structures were all built during the first half of the 19th century, the heyday of New Bedford’s whaling era. The property was originally owned by the Rotch family, selling it to Captain Merrill in 1837. He built the counting house and two of the piers for his whaling business. The Merrill family owned the property until 1905. In 1848, Edward Bourne established his whaling concern on this site. Bourne eventually owned more whaling ships than any other ship owner in New England. His counting house office interior was donated and moved to the Whaling Museum. In 1925, Gilkey, Durant, and Company started their sail making business here, until closing in1968.