On what is now a parking lot and town landing at 55 Commercial Street stood Western Cold Storage, the westernmost of Provincetown’s cold storage facilities; enormous, industrial-strength fish processing and freezing plants which once lined the waterfront. Only one, the Ice House, survives. The Western was built in 1917 and only operated for a year before shutting down. The town seized the property for non-payment of taxes and tore down the building in 1937, leaving a parking lot in its wake that has been there ever since. The Long Point exhibit at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum indicates that a floater house also occupied this site.
The Cape Cod Cold Storage Company freezer compound may have looked somewhat charming from the front facade, but the real heart of this plant, built in 1912, was the enormous four-story factory on the waterfront, served by Freeman’s Wharf (known locally as the Cold Storage Wharf). The factory was financed by Joshua Paine, who was also behind the Puritan and Colonial freezers — and the Provincetown Inn. More pictures and history»
The Puritan freezer was built in 1914. In a 1940 summary of the plants, Irving S. Rogers wrote in The Advocate: “This cold storage was never very successful and only operated for five years. The final shut-down occurred in 1919 and the building was finally destroyed by fire in 1921.”
Fishermens Cold Storage
Fishermens Cold Storage was one of a half dozen fish processing and freezing plants that lined the waterfront in the early 20th century. Machinery kept compressed anhydrous ammonia in pipes at zero degrees to chill fish and bait. This plant, built in 1905, was sold to the giant Atlantic Coast Fisheries Corporation combine in 1937, and was torn down shortly thereafter.
Former Colonial Cold Storage Company | Indigo Lounge | Jake’s Cape House
This is one of the two great vestiges of the cold storage plants, or “freezers,” that once lined the waterfront and gave it an industrial cast that is almost impossible to imagine today. More pictures and history»
The Provincetown Cold Storage Company complex, at the foot of Johnson Street, was constructed in 1893 by a group of investors led by Dan Frank Small. More pictures and history»
Ice House Condominiums (Former Consolidated Weir Company Cold Storage Plant)
Unlovely. Ungainly. Unimaginably large, by local standards. But still, the Ice House embodies one of the more important lessons that architecture has to teach about town history. It is the only one remaining of the seven enormous cold storage plants that once lined the waterfront, giving Provincetown an unmistakably industrial quality that most painters and photographers seemed to have excised from their frames in favor of colorful trap boats and draggers.