Nathaniel C. Smith, NBTS Campus Architect

New Bedford Architect Nathaniel C. Smith (1866-1943) designed the original New Bedford Textile School building and its addition. The building still stands at 1213 Purchase Street and is currently home to the City of New Bedford Health Department, among other things. 12 The New Bedford Textile School, one of UMass Dartmouth’s predecessor schools, was chartered in 1895 to provide “instruction in the theory and practical art of textile and kindred branches of industry.” The first building was completed in 1899 at 1213 Purchase Street in downtown New Bedford.  The city of New Bedford matched construction funds with those provided by the state.  Classroom instruction emphasized both the theory and practice of all phases of manufacturing, finishing and distribution of textiles, and was intended to refine the skills of local mill workers by offering both day and evening classes. The first course offered was the “General Cotton Course.”  A later iteration of the New Bedford Textile School, the New Bedford Institute of Technology, merged with the Bradford Durfee College of Technology in 1964 and gradually vacated the building in the 1960s as structures on the new Dartmouth Campus were built.  The Purchase Street building was home to a few departments of the Swain School of Design from 1985-1988, and UMD’s Artisanry and Fiber Arts programs in the 1990s.

Smith designed an impressive array of buildings in the greater New Bedford area, many of which still stand.  More on this architect and his local work is on display at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum in New Bedford through November 1, 2013, including facsimile reproductions of two of the Smith drawings of the NBTS building in the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections.  Unfortunately, blueprints are susceptible to light damage and could not be lent for display.  The museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday and 1 to 4 pm on Sunday.

NBTS postcard

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