Some of Provincetown’s finest and proudest vessels were made at the shipyard occupying the lot between Angel Foods and the former George Bryant house. John G. Whitcomb (d 1901) was a ship’s carpenter from Yarmouth, Me., who moved here in 1865, according to King Hiram’s Lodge, to which Whitcomb belonged.
He lived at what was then denominated 421 Commercial Street (and is now the Provincetown Art Association and Museum). Among the boats that took shape in this yard were the celebrated 137-ton schooner Alcyone, launched in 1866; the 129-ton Cara Morrison, 1866; the 129-ton F. W. Alton, for Thomas Daggett, in 1867; the 166-ton brig, D. A. Small, for David S. Small, 1868; the 131-ton schooner Lattie Belle, for E. C. Small, 1869; and the 137-ton schooner Willie L. Swift, for Samuel S. Swift, 1875. It wasn’t until 1901 that another vessel of this magnitude would be constructed in town, and Whitcomb built it: the yacht Charlotte, for James A. Lawrence of Chicago. “It was such a gala occasion that schools were let out so that the youngsters might witness the launch,” James J. Theriault wrote for the Masons.
The Charlotte was to be his last. Whitcomb died that year and was succeeded by Alexander J. McQuarrie (d 1917), who had first come to the shipyard in 1875 to work on the Willie L. Swift, and McQuarrie’s friend, John Pidgeon. Under the name Pidgeon & McQuarrie, the shipyard continued as a partnership until it was dissolved by mutual consent in 1915. It appears that McQuarrie (also spelled McQuirre or MacQuirrie) was living at No. 421 in 1886 and that Pidgeon was living in the house in 1910.
By this time, Clarence Leonard Burch (±1875-1957) had acquired title to the waterfront property. It eventually passed into the hands of Duncan B. Bryant. His mother, Mary Ann (MacKenzie) Bryant, was the sister of Burch’s wife, Dorothy (MacKenzie) Burch. Bryant sought permission in 1956 to build a motel on this property, but the Zoning Appeals Board turned him down.