170 Commercial Street

170 Commercial Street, Bravo and Joe, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

170 Commercial Street, Bravo and Joe, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

170 Commercial Street, Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, courtesy of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

170 Commercial Street, Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, courtesy of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

Matchbook cover, courtesy of Salvador R. Vasques III.

Matchbook cover, courtesy of Salvador R. Vasques III.

There aren’t many vigorously original works of architecture in town, so it seems especially grievous that one of the few such structures — the strikingly handsome Shingle-style second Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church — should have been torn down. The first Centenary Church was built on this site in 1866, the 100th anniversary of the founding of American Methodism. The steeple was one foot taller than that of the rival Center Methodist Church. Firefighters could not reach it on the night in 1908 when the church caught fire. Two boys were killed in the disaster. The second church was constructed from 1909 to 1910. It closed in the early 1940s, after the departure of its last regular pastor. The property was acquired in 1948 by the First National Bank of Provincetown, which was then at 290 Commercial. Next year, the bank offered to sell the church building for its “excellent lumber.”

Ye Olde Colonial in style, the bank was designed by Hutchins & French. It opened in 1950. What distinguished it were eight large murals by the artist Colton Waugh on marine subjects, specially commissioned to hang between the window bays. First National went through various incarnations before disappearing into the giant Shawmut. “In the dismantling of the bank in the ’70s, the murals disappeared and have never been found,” Josephine Del Deo said. Subsequent tenants have included Mail Spot Express, Robert Cardinal’s West End Gallery, Bravo! mens’ clothing, and Joe Coffee & Cafe, which moved here from 148A Commercial and greatly enlivened what had been a pleasant but little-used front yard.


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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