20 Shank Painter Road

20 Shank Painter Road, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

20 Shank Painter Road, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

As a work of post-war ecclesiastical architecture, the Provincetown United Methodist Church of 1958-1959, by Donaldson Ray McMullin Associates of Cambridge, stands out. The arresting redwood parquetry and steeply-pitched roof beams direct one’s eyes upward, while exuding warmth, connection to the natural world, and a link to boat building. Originally, the central bay of the facade was almost entirely glass. The interior must have glowed on a winter night like a great, Modernist ember. In the adjoining complex, McMullin use clerestory windows to give the ensemble a feeling of permeability and luminosity.

20 Shank Painter Road, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

20 Shank Painter Road, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

The old Center Methodist congregation of 356 Commercial built this church on acreage that had been owned by Florence Waldin. The complex accommodated 200 worshipers, a school, a choir, church groups, and a Boy Scout troop. There was a lounge, a prayer garden, and a kitchen. And lots of parking. The church opened under the Rev. Gilman Lewis Lane on Easter Sunday, 1960. Before the decade was out, it was the unlikely setting of the premiere of Eat Your Makeup by John Waters.

Today, under the Rev. James Cox, the church belongs to the Reconciling Ministries Network, which embraces Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The Soup Kitchen in Provincetown (SKIP) offers free hot meals to the needy. There is a food pantry, run by Betty Villari, and a thrift shop, coordinated by Villari, Joy Faxon, and Michelle Foley. The church still has a choir, under Casey Sanderson. More than a dozen A.A. meetings are held here every week. In its 1958 prospectus, the congregation declared, “We are a seven-day-a-week church.” Happily, that’s still true.


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.

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