With the new Wamsutta Mill rising on the banks of the Acushnet River, its proprietors tried to attract a new workforce. Wamsutta needed skilled weavers, loom fixers, and managers, and New Bedford’s workers hunted whales and made rope and candles. In addition, Wamsutta competed with established textile manufactories in places like Pawtucket and Lowell for a limited number of textile operatives.
To attract workers to New Bedford, the company constructed eight brick double-houses, in two rows of four, at the corner of North Front Street and Logan Street close to the mills and just north of a freshwater pond. Likely modeled after similar buildings in Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, the new worker housing attempted to resemble stately rows of housing in English textile centers.
Each building contained two units of two-and-a-half stories with separate entrances in the middle of the façade. Floor plans for similar buildings in Lawrence included a parlor, kitchen, living room, and bedroom on the first floor, and additional bedrooms on the upper floors. Behind each building was space for privies and laundry yards. The sixteen units, completed in 1848, were relatively spacious and modern compared to the overcrowded and ramshackle worker tenements in New Bedford later in the 19th century. Wamsutta rented them to overseers, machinists, carpenters, and skilled mill operatives and their families.
As Wamsutta expanded its operations and its workforce, the company added additional housing units near the original brick double houses, but built of wood rather than brick. By 1895, twenty-seven tenement buildings stood in the area roughly bounded by Hicks Street to the north, Logan Street to the south, and North Front Street and Acushnet Avenue on the east and west respectively. Fulton Court and Hampton Court (both streets now gone) extended north from Logan Street into the cluster of buildings. By the 1890s, the original brick double houses had been divided into four units each, doubling their original capacity but halving the space of each unit.
By 1945, all of the original brick housing units had been demolished, but a dozen of the later wood tenements survived until construction of John F. Kennedy Highway in the late 1960s. Today, automotive repair shops, light industry, and a church occupy the entire area.