Seamen's Bethel

The Seamen's Bethel is a chapel in New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States, located at 15 Johnny Cake Hill. Built by the New Bedford Port Society, it was completed on May 2, 1832. It is a contributing property to the New Bedford Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.

The Seamen's Bethel was specifically constructed for the many sailors who called New Bedford their home port (mostly whalers), who considered it a matter of tradition that one visited the chapel before setting sail.


In 1851, Herman Melville published his famous tale of the white whale. In it he wrote:
"In this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman's Chapel, and few are the moody fishermen, shortly bound for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a Sunday visit to the spot."
- Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
From this point on, the Seamen's Bethel came to be widely seen as a symbol of the whalers, and later as a symbol of their history.

In film

In 1956, John Huston shot a scene from the movie adaptation of Moby-Dick with Gregory Peck, in front of the real Seamen's Bethel, but interior shots in the movie were not shot on-location. This revitalized tourism to the area.

National Park

In 1996 the Seamen's Bethel, along with the New Bedford Whaling Museum(located across the street), the historic district and other icons of New Bedford whaling were collectively made into the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

See also


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