More pictures »
Governor Bradford School
This elegant, wood-framed, Queen Anne-style building was home to the Governor Bradford School beginning in 1892 and where grades five and six were conducted after a 1931 systemwide reorganization. First to fourth grades were in the Western and Center Schools; seventh onward in the High School. In 1935, it burned down in the middle of the night without any loss of life.
While searching for a place to park, have you ever wondered for whom the Grace Hall Parking Lot was named? Or supposed that Grace Hall was a building that once stood at Prince and Bradford, with some connection to St. Peter’s? (Or do you confine yourself to wondering why it’s so hard to find a parking space?) In any case, Mrs. Hall (±1867-1948) was a founding member of the Research Club, progenitor of the Provincetown Museum, which was born here in 1910. More history»
Village Hall was built in 1832 as a secular meeting place, but was renamed Marine Hall after Marine Lodge No. 96 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was chartered here in 1845. They bought the building the next year. The Masons met here from 1845 to 1870 and the structure also served as Mrs. Stearns’s private school. In 1870, John Atwood Jr. convened a meeting to organize the Board of Trade (now the Chamber of Commerce). In 1886, The Provincetown Advocate began printing here on steam-driven presses. The Odd Fellows built a new headquarters next door in 1895. After the 1950s, Marine Hall was demolished and replaced by a parking lot.
Central School House
The Central School House was one of three district schools built in 1844 — along with the Western and Eastern (still standing) — each to serve a three-grade cohort: primary, intermediate and grammar. Henry David Thoreau may have been referring to this building when he described a school house “filled with sand up to the tops of the desks.” Its site is now a parking lot, associated with one of the more brutal crimes in recent history: the execution-style shooting in 1996 of Linda Silva, an investigator for the Department of Social Services. Seven years passed until the arrest of a suspect, Paul Dubois, whose request for child custody had been opposed by Silva. Dubois was convicted of first-degree murder in 2004.
The Dunlap house? Admittedly, the name “Mrs. Dunlap” on the 1880 atlas caught my eye for personal reasons, even though I know we couldn’t be related. (It’s a long story.) One possibility: perhaps she was the widow of John Dunlap, who seems to be the only person of that name in accounts of town life in the 19th century. Dunlap shows up in three public records: as a two-term Selectman, first elected in 1838; as a one-term Representative, elected in 1840; and then, in 1850, as an agent of the whaler R. E. Cook, which was under the command of Captains Cook, Nickerson and Tilson. It is not far-fetched to think of “Mrs. Dunlap” — if she were a contemporary of John Dunlap — as a woman, say, in her late 60s or early 70s by the year the atlas was published.
Old Colony Railroad Passenger Depot
For better or worse, Provincetown was firmly joined to the mainland on 23 July 1873, when the Old Colony Railroad inaugurated train service from Boston. The passenger depot stood on Bradford Street but the tracks continued down Standish, across Commercial, and all the way to the end of Railroad Wharf, giving fishermen a relatively fast overland route to Boston. Three short spurs branched from the main line at Conwell Street. One ended at an engine house and turntable near Center Street and Railroad Avenue. Each day, four trains ran — or, at least, crawled — up and down the Cape. Picture essay and more history