Cape Cod National Seashore | Herring Cove

Herring Cove Beach

Herring Cove Beach, by David Jarrett (1980s).

Herring Cove Beach, by David Jarrett (1980s).

First Herring Cove Beach Bathhouse, shower area, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

First Herring Cove Beach Bathhouse, shower area, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

Herring Cove Beach (formerly New Beach) offers something for everyone, generally in degrees of abandon that correspond to distance from the parking lot. The opening of the first Herring Cove Beach Bathhouse in 1953 was a sufficiently auspicious event to draw Gov. Christian Herter. Designed by Mario Caputo, the state-built bathhouse was a handsome-enough Modernist structure with a glass-block facade. It could almost have passed for a small-town airport terminal. Adjoining shower and locker pavilions brought its length to 148 feet. It was given a marvelous send-off in 2012 as the setting of an art festival, “10 Days That Shook the World: the Centennial Decade,” organized by Jay Critchley and Ewa Nogiec.

New Herring Cove Beach Batthouse, by David W. Dunlap (2013).

New Herring Cove Beach Batthouse, by David W. Dunlap (2013).

The new Herring Cove Beach Bathhouse pavilions, which opened in 2013, seem almost to be levitating over the beach. Actually, they are. Several feet. The entire complex is on pilings, to increase storm resistance and — if necessary — portability. The $5 million project was designed by Amy Sebring of the Park Service. Together, the pavilions create a sense of a small town square. Picnic tables at the heart of the square are shaded by a lovely trellis structure. Far Land runs a summer concession. There are outdoor showers — basically upright standpipes — and also an indoor shower pavilion with clerestory windows that make it feel like outdoors. Sea creatures formed of patterned shingles frolic on the facades. All in, Sebring has shown that contemporary vernacular architecture can be contextual without being cliché.


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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