Freeman Building | Provincetown Tourism Office | Provincetown Community Television (PTV)
Prudent Provincetown. Why have three buildings for three functions? In 1873, as a gift to the town, Nathan Freeman built a mansard-topped structure that housed the Public Library on the first floor, a Y.M.C.A. on the second floor and a photo studio on the third.
In the library’s early years, the most colorful of its stewards was Abbie Cook Putnam. And there were some memorable battles, like the time in 1939 when the work of John Dos Passos was barred from open shelves for fear that readers would find his books “radical and filthy.” In 1977, the library — by now the building’s sole occupant — was extensively renovated. The librarian at the time was Alice O’Grady Joseph (d 2010), who was in charge from 1965 to 1982.
But the library was soon cramped again. Not without controversy, the library moved in 2005 to the former Heritage Museum at 356 Commercial Street. Today, the Freeman Building houses Provincetown Community Television (PTV) and the Provincetown Tourism Office. It is a multipurpose building — once again.
Thank you for this amazing collection of Provincetown history. I have a question I’m hoping one of our Town historians can answer. I wonder if anyone can recall if the top of the central tower on the Freeman Library was lost and then replaced. I’ve noticed in some old pictures the tower is there, and in other pictures it is not (it can be seen both with and without the tower in the Gov. Bradford entry). Also, in the more recent pictures, the tower top looks like it’s a different proportion than it does in the old photos. Thanks.
It was replaced in 1976. This link will take you to an interesting article from The Advocate that Althea Boxell clipped for her scrapbooks, now available digitally at the Provincetown History Preservation Project — a fascinating and important resource.