Building — Background & Images



The Ropeworks building is about 100 years old. As a weave shed, it was part of the Pierce mill complex, and is the only remaining structure. North-facing skylights along the full length of each of the six sawteeth provided plentiful natural lighting.

When the building was used as a liquor storehouse local laws required that all windows and skylights be bricked or boarded up.

Starting in 1974, the building was home to John Ruggles' rope business. The business, founded in the late 1800s, was created to provide cotton rope and braids to the New England textile industry. It evolved to provide fine ropes for marine, industrial and recreational markets. For a few years after The Ropeworks' development started, John continued the business in small parts of the building.


"The Sarah R. Delano Preservation Awards are given annually [by the Waterfront Historic Area League] to area individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the rehabilitation, restoration and interpretation of the historic character and environment of Greater New Bedford. This year's awards will be presented to . . . Norman R. Buck, Adam Buck and Anne Wolfe for their restoration of The Ropeworks Building, 123 Sawyer St., and for their vision of creating artist live/work spaces in New Bedford . . ."
The Standard-Times, May 23, 2006, page A04

"The [New Bedford Preservation Society] presents this award annually to recognize individuals or organizations that have done an outstanding job in either the restoration or preservation of their historic property. . . Receiving awards are . . . Norman and Adam Buck and Anne Wolfe, the Ropeworks . . ."
The Standard-Times, May 13, 2007, from website


25,000 square foot, single-story building.

20-foot+ ceilings.

7-foot-high, energy-efficient, north-facing skylights.

2 loading docks.

13 units, each with a different layout.

Between-unit spaces are insulated for sound and heat with Nuwool recycled fiber.


Wide halls, with walls used to display art.

Patio, trees, garden spaces, fire pit.


Rescuing building (2004-2005)

"They looked at dozens of mills in and around New Bedford until settling on this one, in which they saw great potential for the creation of art."
The Standard-Times, February 7, 2005, page A11

Creating living spaces (2005-2013)

"Old factory buildings are ideal for conversion to artist live/work lofts because of features like skylights, loading docks and heavy load-bearing floors. The height of the spaces, 20 feet plus at the peak, offers opportunities for grand architectural design and room to work on large-scale artwork."
The Standard-Times, February 18, 2006, page A2

Living / Working (2006-now)

"Light pours into the condominium . . . through huge sawtooth skylight windows. With hardwood floors, painted brick and high ceilings, it is the quintessential artists live-and-work space. . . ."
The Standard-Times, April 3, 2006, page A05