Padanaram Village in Dartmouth, Massachusetts is a historic and scenic area on Apponagansett Bay, across the Padanaram Bridge from Apponagansett Park. Padanaram Village—or simply “The Village,” as it is called by locals—is mostly residential, with a few restaurants, shops, and boating-related businesses, as well as the New Bedford Yacht Club. It’s a charming place to go for a walk or enjoy the harbor atmosphere, particularly in the summer when Padanaram Harbor receives most of its activity.
Dockside Ice Cream is a seasonal ice cream shop that has been a summertime favorite for years. Beach Plum Café and Bakery—formerly Cecily’s—serves sandwiches, coffee, and baked goods. The Black Bass Grille and the Sail Loft are two full service restaurants serving lunch and dinner.
The pleasant charm of Padanaram Village contrasts with its rich and dramatic history. The Village was one of a few Quaker settlements to appear within Old Dartmouth after its purchase from the Wampanoag Indians. During King Philip’s War, it was thoroughly destroyed, with all cattle killed and buildings set ablaze. The only survivors were those who fled to nearby garrisons upon hearing a warning. Remains of the settlement can still be seen at the foot of Lucy Street.
In the 1700’s Padanaram became a shipbuilding center, and when a British fleet attacked nearby New Bedford in the American Revolution, a smaller force was also sent to attack the village. Two Tories—Bristish loyalists—who formerly resided in Padanaram had been forced out of the village, and returned with the British, directing them to the properties of the Patriots. The British set fire to three homes, but a woman saved one by throwing water on the fire and the British soldiers. This saved building is now the rectory for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Elm Street.
In the 1800’s, Padanaram prospered as a minor whaling port supplementing activity in New Bedford. In response to trade embargos from the War of 1812, the Village also developed a “salt works” at Ricketson’s Point. Sea water was pumped into artificial evaporating ponds by windmills, and the salt was collected to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration. Eventually, these industries became obsolete, and Padanaram became mostly residential.
The name “Padanaram” came from a prominent early resident named Laban Thatcher, who identified with the Biblical figure Laban who resided in Padan-Aram in Mesopotamia. The village eventually adopted this new name, and dropped its earlier Wampanoag name, “Ponagansett.”