A soft-cover book entitled “History of the Association 1932 – 1999” was published by the late William Macy Miller Jr., K1IBR at the turn of the century. Thanks to SEMARA member Timothy R. Smith, N1TI, we are in possession of the Microsoft Publisher master files. With some dedication and hard work, we hope to convert this book to an enjoyable digital reading experience in its entirety right here on our website – stay tuned! In the meantime, please enjoy a very brief history of our association.
The club began in November of 1932. Alan Cooper, W1HSR, announced the formation of the New Bedford Shortwave Radio Club (NBSWC) in the local newspaper. Initial meetings were held in his house at 27 Willard Street in the south end of New Bedford, and later in the City Mission on First Street.
In 1935, the club changed its name to the New Bedford Amateur Radio Association (NBARA) and began meeting in the cellar of the Ware Radio store at 813 County Street (Southwest corner of Austin Street). The owner of the store charged no rent. In 1936 the club met in a small storefront building at 165 Summer Street. The club also secured its own call letters, W1IXF.
In 1937, the club affiliated with the ARRL. From 1937 to 1940 the club met at 47 Sidney Street. Formal club activity ceased during World War II. However, members did meet informally and infrequently in George Augustine’s, W1KHV, “shack” on Jenkins Street.
In 1947, formal meetings resumed. The name of the club was changed to the “Southeastern Massachusetts Amateur Radio Association” (SEMARA) to more closely reflect the area from which its members came. The club also affiliated with the ARRL under this new name in 1947. They met at the WMCA on 6th Street in downtown New Bedford until 1950.
In 1950, the club affiliated with Civil Defense, and began meeting in the Warming House at Buttonwood Park. An antenna was strung from the Warming House to the island in the center of the skating pond. In 1953 the club moved to the northeast corner of Blackmer and South Second Street.
Finally in 1955, the club bought 3 acres of land at the present location (54 Donald Street) in Dartmouth, MA. The initial purchase was by way of a trust setup by three members. The club was at the end of a dirt road on land that was used as a town dump for many years. The original Quonset hut clubhouse formally was a restaurant called “Wally’s Hut” on Rockdale Avenue just east of Dartmouth Street. It cost more to move it than to buy it!
In 1955, the membership voted to change the club’s call to W1AEC in memory of member Kenneth Dyer who died at sea in 1950 when the scalloper “Four Sisters” sunk. The club uses that memorial call to this day.
In 1958, the club incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a non-profit organization, and purchased the land and clubhouse from the three trustees.
In 1965, the club newsletter ZERO BEAT began publication.
In June of 1974, the club put a two meter repeater (WR1ADR) on the air from Dick Hay’s (W1LE) house on Smith Neck Road in Dartmouth. A 100 foot high repeater tower was erected on club property the fall of same year to host a new repeater being built. The new repeater would have a feature all the members wanted; autopatch!
In the spring of 1975, the new club repeater went on the air from the club’s property. The original tower proved to be inadequate for the coverage desired. The tower was therefore extended to a height of 160 feet in the fall of 1975.
In 1977, the membership built a new meeting hall in front of the old Quonset hut.
In 1999, the 160 foot tower was replaced with a 180 foot communications tower in the woods to the rear of the property under a 20 year lease agreement with NETCOM, Inc. In 2019, a new lease was signed with current tower management company, Blue Sky Towers.