Built by shipwrights in 1834 for whaling merchant William Rotch Jr., the Rotch-Jones-Duff (RJD) House and Garden Museum epitomizes the “brave houses and flowery gardens” described by Herman Melville in Moby-Dick. Greek Revival in style, it was designed by architect Richard Upjohn, a founder and first president of the American Institute of Architects.
396 County Street was home to three prominent and influential New Bedford families; William Rotch Jr., 1834 to 1850; Edward Coffin Jones, 1851 – 1935; and Mark M. Duff, 1935 – 1981. The estate chronicles important chapters in American history when New Bedford had a major influence on the international arenas of commerce, trade, and culture via whaling, and later through textiles.
The property encompasses a full city block of gardens which include a boxwood parterre rose garden, a boxwood specimen garden, a woodland garden and a cutting garden. It is the only whaling mansion open to the public in New England that retains its original configuration of grounds and outbuildings.
Today this National Historic Landmark offers house tours, lectures and talks, concerts, theatrical performances, family events, changing special exhibitions, and curriculum-supporting educational field trips for local school students.
We invite you to visit 396 County Street and step back in time to experience the history of a community closely tied to the sea.