The James Arnold Mansion

The James Arnold Mansion

The Mansion History

Picture1On James Arnold’s passing he left the mansion and most of his fortune to William J. Rotch, Arnold’s nephew by marriage.

William J. Rotch was the second Mayor of New Bedford.

Between 1869 and 1872 the brick federal mansion was recreated as a French Second Empire with the removal of the Greek columned façade and the addition of a mansard roofed top story. The brick was plastered all over. The house was rebuilt in accordance with the vogue of that day. The grounds were curtailed of their proportions, but the wide frontage with the great trees that shade the lawns remained.

William J. Rotch moved into the house in 1872 with his seven children and second wife. An eighth child was born in the house. and it   remained in the family until 1919. William J. Rotch made the Arnold home his dwelling place for 50 years or thereabouts. During the lifetime of Mr. Rotch the house once more figured prominently in the social life of the city.

William Rotch died on August 17, 1893. Mary Russell Rotch, his youngest daughter, died on February 19, 1917. After the death of William Rotch’s widow Clara Morgan Rotch on August 24, 1919 the lights of the mansion went out once more, and it was feared the house would share the fate of other estates which once   distinguished the city. The future of the property was in serious doubt. None of the remaining Rotch children had either the inclination or the funds to care for this landmark property.

The family was interested in preserving the property and made favorable concessions which made the acquisition of the house and a part of the extensive grounds by the Wamsutta Club.

Today the handsome marble fireplaces and great gold framed mirrors on the first floor remain as relics of the past. The small room to the left of the entrance has not changed and the layout of the second and third floors is as it used to be, all else has changed.