Steamboat Wharf was once the maritime gateway to Provincetown, where passengers arrived by steamboat from Boston. The pier was originally known as Bowley’s Wharf. It was built in 1849. Joshua and Gideon Bowley also built a ship outfitting store on Commercial Street in 1851.
It was renamed Matheson’s Wharf after Captain William Matheson of Nova Scotia, who owned it in the latter half of the 19th century (when it was denominated 186 Commercial Street), as well as eight vessels, including the three-masted schooner Jessie T. Matheson and the Grand Banks schooner Lizzie W. Matheson, named for his daughters. He also bought the Bowleys’ store in 1882, where Jessie and another daughter set up a millinery, fancy goods and souvenir shop. The pier was extended into deep water in 1863 to receive the steamer George Shattuck, from Boston, which ran until 1874.