In 1866, Charles Warren Clifford organized an athletic club to play a new version of baseball. That was the beginning of the Wamsutta Club. The Club soon evolved into a social club. As the Club grew, it made several moves to acquire more space. Former locations include the old Ricketson blockof Purchase Street, the old Masonic Building at Pleasant and Union Streets, and after being formally chartered in 1889, the former PerryHouse at Union and County Streets. The present location, long one of New Bedford’s landmarks, had been built in 1821 by James Arnold. After the death of his widow in 1919, the Wamsutta Club purchased the Arnold Mansion. Two large wings were added on the north and south, and squash courts were added on the west side, in a basement addition.
During the period 1890-1925, the Club was a major rendezvous for area businessmen, when the textile industry was at its height in the city. There is no way to estimate the number of bales of cotton that were bought and sold during meetings among businessmen at the Club.
When the Great Depression struck and the textile industry declined, the Club faced a problem of declining membership. Dues were reduced, the membership was re-established on a broader base, and the Club’s programs were expanded to meet the needs of a changing community.
Interesting facts:The Wamsutta Club is a private social club in New Bedford, Massachusetts, founded in 1866. It was a club for the affluent members of New Bedford's community, which at the time was supported by the flagging whaling industry as well as the up-and-coming textiles.