418 Commercial Street

Former Church of Christ, Scientist | Packard Gallery

A great circle was closed in 1988 when the artist Anne (Locke) Packard bought 418 Commercial Street as a gallery for her works and those of her daughters, Cynthia and Leslie. Up until 1970, this had been owned by the Christian Science Society, which used it as a church and reading room. As it happened, Packard’s grandfather, the painter Max Bohm, was one of the more prominent Christian Scientists in town, though he did not live long enough to have attended services here.


Up until 1918, this was the Rideout property. The Christian Science Society was worshiping in the G.A.R. Hall at that time. Viola Rideout sold the land that year to Eliza A. Kaesche, who passed it on to Emma D. Kaesche, who made two grants to the Christian Science Society, in 1926 and 1931. Since services were being conducted in Marine Hall, 96 Commercial Street, as late as 1929, and since a Reading Room was operating at No. 418 that same year, I’m guessing that the Reading Room was constructed first, with the sanctuary following. In any case, both were conducted at No. 418 by January 1931.

The building was used for worship less than 40 years. Indeed, it’s now been in secular hands longer than it was in religious service. The Christian Science Society sold it in 1970 to Jane C. Potter and Mary B. Walley, who sold it in 1971 to David A. Bowdoin, who sold it in 1977 to Dennis Shaul, who sold it in 1987 to Eva Stuart, who sold it in 1988 to Anne Packard.

Packard was born in 1933 in Hyde Park, N.Y. Her mother was Esther (Bohm) Locke, daughter of Max Bohm. She started painting in earnest in the early 1960s and fairly quickly found an admirer in Robert Motherwell, who snapped up some of her first works. She studied with Philip Malicoat in Provincetown and at Bard College. Her daughter Cynthia (b 1957) studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and then, after coming to town in 1980, with Fritz Bultman. Cynthia’s sister Leslie (b 1959) is the director of the Packard Gallery and a painter in her own right.













6 thoughts on “418 Commercial Street

  1. I am not certain which of the owners converted the “church” into a private home but it was a very elegant place in one of its reincarnations. My mother, Margaret A. Mayo, was a member of the congregation and played the piano there during the 30s.

  2. Because of Massachusetts blue laws, this church kept the restaurants in its immediate vicinity from acquiring liquor licenses. It was almost an annual ritual for Ciro & Sal’s to ask again for the right to serve wine. It was BYOB for many years.

  3. My grandmother Barbara Malicoat designed this building before she was married.

    She and my great-grandmother Florence Bradshaw Brown and my great aunt Beatrice Bradshaw Brown all attended this church in the ’20s and ’30s, but when my grandma wished to marry Philip Malicoat, they threw her out of the church! Then Aunt Bea became Catholic and became the organist for years at St. Peter’s. The next generation never went to church! Ha ha.

    My grandmother was the town illustrator for years. The only one of her designs left is on the D.P.W. trucks, of the Mayflower. She did so much more than the walking tours.

    • Wow! I knew that your grandmother was an extraordinarily creative and talented artist, but I hadn’t realized she was a skilled architect as well. Thank you.

      For readers who may not be familiar with Mrs. Malicoat’s delightful artwork, there’s a sampling of her Christmas cards on the Provincetown History Preservation Project site. I also recommend the catalog for the 2009 exhibition The Malicoats: Four Generations of a Family Creating, which includes artwork by Barbara Malicoat, Florence Brown and Beatrice Brown, as well as a photograph of young Orin.

      • I remember when David Bowdoin lived here in the 70s. I think he converted it into a private home. It was beautiful. David was is his fifties, white hair, in perfect shape, as handsome as a movie star and gracious but reserved. He was an executive with Hughes Aircraft Company and it was said that he was a Mormon as many Hughes employees were. He lived with his beautiful younger partner who was in his 20s, blond, athletic, gracious but reserved. I always thought there was something very moving about their story since they seemed to be in some kind of self imposed exile, very much in love yet somehow fugitive in their relationship. David sold the house a year after Howard Hughes died.

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