Waiting

for my story to be told

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“But as any good historian would do, I still have questions.  First, the letterhead had it in New Bedford.  Why wouldn’t it be Westport?  Second, I would think with this type of view, my Grandfather would had written something about the scenery, but there was nothing about the scenery.  So, while dipping my feet in the water, I was really happy to be where there was a Hotel Plaza.  I am not sure that this was the actual Hotel Plaza that he stayed at, but based on the information that I found, it was for me, the perfect ending to my summer’s journeys.”

I wrote this passage several weeks back, thinking my journey was perhaps over.  But as you can read, I was skeptical that I ended at the location that my Grandfather actually stayed at.

Before I traveled to New Bedford, I had requested to be approved as a member of “I am from New Bedford”, specifically to ask about the Hotel Plaza.  But I heard nothing except from the New Bedford news group, who told me the Hotel Plaza was in Westport. So, I took the trip on August 24th, thinking this was it.  But, I did question it all once I got down there. Yes, it was a spectacular place to end the trip but there were some things that didn’t add up, like wouldn’t my Grandfather had mentioned the spectacular scenery, the face that he wrote about going to the movies and my hunch was that there was no movie theater near here, and that New Bedford is a bit of a ride from Westport, so why wouldn’t the letterhead read Westport instead of New Bedford.  I felt like I needed to do more research on this mystery hotel.

On August 31st, I received word that I had been accepted as a new member of the “I am from New Bedford” group.  RIght away, I put out this post: “Hi Everyone, I am wondering if anyone knows if there was a Hotel Plaza in New Bedford? My grandfather stayed at a Hotel Plaza in New Bedford in 1929? Many thanks, Susan”

Pretty quickly I received this reply:  The old new bedford hotel. Downtown new bedford”  I thought to myself, “Darn”, as I had heard of this location before my trip (in fact, was going to go and stand in front of that building, that is now elderly housing.  I figured it was an old hotel but I also could not find out anything more about that hotel’s history.) But I went to Westport instead for that Hotel Plaza and just loved the ending of this summer’s story.

I asked the person, if he knew anything more.  And, “no sorry can’t help you there. Maybe try and Google it”.  So, I ended Saturday, August 31st thinking that I would be making a trip down to that location sometime in the very near future.  However, on Sunday, September 1st, I had another response to my post:  “The Harbor Hotel was the “Bookstore Building” aka Hutchinson’s Bookstore later Saltmarsh’s before it moved to the old Lincoln Store on Purchase. The NEW BEDFORD HOTEL was ALWAYS the New Bedford Hotel. The Plaza Hotel was a small hotel at 965 Purchase St. between High and Kempton, same building as the Output Store.” Maybe this was more credible information than the earlier response.  As always, one needs to question the source. The first one didn’t provide me any real credibility to his statement.  This one seemed a little more credible.

But what I find really interesting about this format for crowd-sourcing of information (much like I had done with my forgotten farmstand post), is the dialogue between people about their memories.  It went something like this:  

 

  • New Bedford Hotel it’s over a hundred years old. We are located in downtown New Bedford across from the post office. We are now a senior and disabled housing. Harbor Hotel was stores and offices
  • Didn’t realize it was a hotel at one time
  • Many well-known people including presidents movie actors and foreign dignitaries graced many rooms. It had four ball rooms on the top floor, spouter Inn on the first floor and a wonderful place for Family Dining children welcome
  •  The whalers lounge
  • I remember interviewing Aldo Ray there when I was a reporter for the college newspaper from NBITT back in 1956! Called him b4 class around 7am. He answered, seemed confused,asked what time it was. I told him 7. There was a pause then he said, loudly, 7AM? Yes. He had a fit! But I got the interview!
  • Great memory. Thank you for sharing. I would love to see the sign in registers
  • Yes that’s where my father worked years ago
  •  Had my wedding reception at the New Bedford Hotel 1968

 

I loved that this question raised so much discussion and memories.  But, back to the Hotel Plaza. Later in the day, my more knowledgeable source responded again with more information:

“Correction, the New Bedford Hotel never had a different name, it was always that. The Plaza Hotel was a small hotel at 965 Purchase St. between High and Kempton. There were a number of smaller hotels downtown. Most were little more than rooming houses. Some had rather sordid reputations.” 

I asked him what the “Output Store” was that was mentioned in his earlier reply.  The Output was a china, glass, sort of gift store; the type of place one would go for a wedding gift for someone you didn’t really know. Good suggestions were there. I worked at the gas station on Pleasant Street that backed up to the building the Output [and the Plaza Hotel were in. The man who owned the shop was our customer, for car service and parking. The station was “Dowd, Inc”, but the real owner was Mark Duff who also owned the New Bedford Hotel. The hotel had lost money for years but Mr. Duff thought a city the size of New Bedford should have a first class hotel and it did until his death. His son-in-law-, Alexander Pierce, was the general manager of the hotel. We took care of parking for the guests.”  

But the response that I loved the most was after I thanked him for this information: “All I did was consult my memory and a couple of City Directories. {I collect city directories, I was also a librarian for 40 odd years., nerdy, I know}”  I am really grateful for this self-proclaimed nerd for helping me locate this hotel, which has been a real challenge to find.  So, stay tuned for the trip to the real location of the Hotel Plaza in New Bedford in a few weeks!

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