† 333R Commercial Street

Provincetown Boat Works

The most common route to demolition in Provincetown’s historic district seems to follow these lines: applicant obtains permission to rehabilitate old building, applicant discovers that old building is too structurally compromised to save, applicant tears down old building. The case of the Provincetown Boat Works, a three-story waterfront building from the 1970s, took its cues from that increasingly familiar scenario.

In a 1976 ad, reproduced here, the boat works offered a 16-foot Maine peapod in mahogany, rigged as a sailboat, for $1,700. (Peapods are double-ended craft with a tapering symmetry not unlike a peapod.) A 2008 article in The Banner identified the former owner of the boat works as John Bennett, leading me to wonder whether this was the John Bennett who owned and captained the schooner Hindu until his death in 2002. A 2007 report by the fire engineers, about discovering a 2,000-gallon tank on the site that had been installed in 1977, identified the owner as Dick Bennett.

I believe this was the building in which the Provincetown Gym did business in the 1980s. I’m assuming that a former boat-building loft would be as good a place as any to open up a gymnasium.

William A. Bonn, a developer based in Coral Gables, Fla., proposed demolishing the building in 2008, but withdrew the application when it was clear that the Historic District Commission would not approve. He then submitted a plan for refurbishing the structure, which was authorized. By 2009, however, around the time the photo below was taken, it became evident to the Historic District Commission that Bonn was razing the structure, not reconstructing it. It turned out he was doing so with the permission of the buildings commissioner, Russell Braun. A public confrontation between the two agencies ensued as demolition proceeded. (Pru Sowers, “Building Razed in Provincetown Historic District,” The Banner/Wicked Local, 25 March 2010.) The violation issued against Bonn was lifted by the Historic District Commission in April 2010, provided he resubmit his construction plans. (Pru Sowers, “Boatworks Violation Lifted in Provincetown,” The Banner/Wicked Local, 15 April 2010.)


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