83 Commercial Street

83 Commercial Street, West End Racing Club, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

83 Commercial Street, West End Racing Club, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

The West End Racing Club sounds like a place whose members dress in commodores’ outfits, but it’s a nonprofit group begun at Flyer’s Beach in 1950 that teaches children to swim and sail. One startling fact that propelled its founding: many fishermen did not know how to swim. The hope was to improve their chances of survival in the unlikely event of a sinking or the much likelier event of falling overboard. Among the organizers were Joseph Andrews, Will Hurlburt, George Fillmore Miller Jr., Lawrence Richmond, Francis Rogers, Francis “Flyer” Santos, and Richard Santos. Their shoreline clubhouse was finished and dedicated in 1957 on the site of Mary Bicknell’s Wharf Theater, which was built in 1925 and fell into the harbor in 1940 (not 1941, as the plaque says). The signal flags on the beam, painted by a young Amy Whorf McGuiggan, say, “Welcome to the WERC.” (As cropped above: “lcome to the WER.”)


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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