James Arnold (1781-1868), in whose honor our institution and grounds are named, was a successful whaling merchant who made a generous bequest to be used for “…the promotion of Agricultural, or Horticultural improvements.” During early 1872, Harvard College combined Arnold’s gift with 123 acres of land donated by Benjamin Bussey, and with the appointment of Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927) as Director, the Arnold Arboretum was born.
The Wamsutta Club formed in 1866 as a social/networking group for successful entrepreneurs of New Bedford. They bought the Arnold Mansion in 1919. Membership declined slightly over time, as did the physical state of the building. However, Wamsutta members have recently founded James Arnold Mansion, Inc., a non-profit organization which has begun raising restoration funds for this historic landmark of New Bedford. The property is now owned by James Arnold Mansion, Inc., and the Wamsutta Club will continue to operate there as a tenant.
Read more about this developing story and initiative to preserve the legacy of James Arnold and his home.
Also remember to drop by the Reading Room to view Arnold’s beautiful pietre dure table, bought by Arnold around 1840 during his travels in Italy and donated to the Arnold Arboretum by Mrs. Augustus H. Eustis and Mrs. Frederic Channing Bowditch, descendants of Arnold, in 1940.