This noble Federal-style building is here for a noble reason. Until the 1880s, it stood at Commercial and Ryder Streets, the family homestead of the Rev. Dr. William Henry Ryder, a leading Universalist clergymen of the 19th century. To ensure that the new Town Hall get as spacious a site as possible, Ryder had the house moved to Winslow Street, gave the town the land on which it had stood, and even paid to acquire abutting properties. According to his biography, by John Wesley Hanson, the house was built in the mid-1820s by William’s father, Godfrey. (The plaque says “circa 1780″ and asserts that the house served as a waystation for slaves escaping to Canada.) Though the family had been in Provincetown since about 1700, Ryder made his national reputation in Chicago, where he died in 1888.
More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.