Fort Taber/Fort Rodman is a well-preserved Civil War-era fort that sits on a point of land that thrusts out into New Bedford Harbor, towards Buzzards Bay. Locally named after a Mayor of the city of New Bedford, which it protects, the stone fort's construction fort began in 1857, as part of a system of forts that stretched from Fort Knox in Maine to Fort Fisher, in Long Island. The fort, in part designed by Robert E. Lee, is very similar in design to Fort Popham and Fort Gorges in Maine, drawing design elements from Fort Knox as well (continued below).
In 1869, a lantern room and light keeper’s quarters were built on top of Fort Taber to replace an older light that the fort’s bulk blocked. A cushioning system was devised to protect the lighthouse from any concussions resulting from the firing of the fort's cannons. Construction on the second tier of the fort was completed in 1871, at which time the Army halted all new construction because they considered the fort to be obsolete. A caretaker garrison was stationed there until 1892, at which point the fort was abandoned as a military site in favour of newer concrete emplacements that were built around it. In 1898, the government officially changed the name of the fort to Fort Rodman, after a local civil war soldier who died at the Battle of Port Hudson, LA, in 1863. From 1899 to the 1940's, 6 new batteries (Wallcot, Gaston, Craig, Cross, Barton, and Milliken) were built in the same area, Clarks Point, with the name Fort Rodman applying to both the stone fort and all the other structures. The name Fort Taber was and still is a unofficial name given by the local population.
The fort and lighthouse were restored in the early 1970s, only to fall victim to extensive vandalism and theft. In 1997, however, a $7 million project began to restore the fort and make it into the centre-point of a new city park. The city of New Bedford plans to fully restore the fort and relight the lighthouse.
Fort Taber is, in part, supported by the Fort Taber Historical Association.