† 96 Bradford Street

Marine Hall

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.

96 Bradford Street

AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod

Within 14 years of its first appearance in Provincetown in 1982, AIDS had claimed more than 385 lives — one-tenth of the town’s permanent population — Jeanne Braham and Pamela Peterson wrote in Starry, Starry Night. To the extent that patients, survivors and caregivers formed their own cohort, it’s fitting that they should have situated one of their oases in an old fraternal hall. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows dedicated the Queen Anne-style Odd Fellows Hall on Oct. 15, 1895. Picture essay and more history »

115 Bradford Street

Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

This lovely and consequential house (c1875/85) has been in the foreground of thousands of pictures taken from the Pilgrim Monument. The Victorian-era gingerbread trim in its eaves is unmistakable. Walter P. Chrysler made his home here while running the Chrysler Museum of Art. Roslyn Garfield, lawyer, real estate broker and civic leader, had her office here. Staying here as a renter, Urvashi Vaid wrote Virtual Equality. More pictures and history»

83 Commercial Street

West End Racing Club
The West End Racing Club sounds like a place whose members dress in commodores’ outfits, but it is in fact a nonprofit organization begun at Flyer’s Beach in 1950 that teaches children to swim and sail. Their shoreline clubhouse at 83 Commercial Street was finished and dedicated in 1957 on “the same ground where once stood the old Wharf Theater.” This building was to house summer activities and provide a wintertime storage area for the boats. More pictures and history»

219 Commercial Street

United States Post Office

Even more than the grocery stores (after all, some people shopped at the A & P while others shopped at the First National), the Post Office was Provincetown’s commons, its Rialto, its great public meeting ground. But it is not untarnished in civic memory. The Post Office was the site in 1949 of a dreadful tragedy, when the town’s well-respected postmaster, William H. Cabral (b ±1900) accidentally shot and killed James “Jimmy Peek” Souza (b ±1930), a rambunctious youth whom Cabral was merely trying to frighten with his Army revolver. The extent of Cabral’s moral liability was a subject that pitted citizens against one another bitterly. And even if those memories have now softened, the Post Office itself still bears a scar from the shooting. More pictures and history»

221-223 Commercial Street

Seamen’s Bank

How many Provincetown guides tell you to go into a bank? Well, please do go into this one. Seamen’s Bank is interwoven in town history, through its banking and lending policies, its corporators, and its philanthropic presence. None of that is especially evident when you step inside its modest headquarters. What is obvious, however, are paintings by some of the town’s leading artists, most of them related to fishing and the sea. Not all of it is first-rate, but even lesser works carry deep significance. The bank has, for instance, kept alive the memory of the three draggers that were lost at sea in recent decades — the Patricia Marie, Cap’n Bill, and Victory II — in paintings by J. Mendes. More pictures and history»

274-276 Commercial Street

Former Seamen’s Savings Bank | Cabot’s Candy | Shell Shop

Salt-water taffy and seashells. You can almost hear Patti Page singing Old Cape Cod. But this substantial commercial building was not constructed as the unofficial headquarters of long-ago summertime fantasy. It was built in 1892, in Queen Anne style, as the headquarters of the Seamen’s Savings Bank, which occupied the building until 1964, when the new — and still current — headquarters opened at 221-223 Commercial Street. The tenants here are Cabot’s Candy of Cape Cod, owned and run since 1969 by Giovanni “John” Cicero (b 1943), and the Shell Shop, owned and run by Cynthia “Cindi” Gast, which has been in business since 1974. More pictures and history»

277-277A Commercial Street

Walter Welsh Council of the Knights of Columbus | Shor | Outer Cape Kites & Toys | Cape Cod Gourmet | Cafe Maria | Himalayan Handicrafts

Forget Town Hall. It might reasonably be argued that for a time in the mid-20th century, the real locus of political power in Provincetown was upstairs in this building, in the hall owned and used by the Walter Welsh Council (Council No. 2476) of the Knights of Columbus, and by the affiliated St. Peter’s Club. This was where the leaders of the Portuguese Roman Catholic community sat. And where they sat, there was the head of the table. For instance, when the Knights of Columbus publicly appealed to every business in town to close for three hours on the afternoon of Good Friday — as they did each year — it’s a safe bet that most proprietors complied, no matter their religious beliefs, if for no other reason than to keep the custom of Catholic shoppers. More pictures and history»

290 Commercial Street

Former First National Bank of Provincetown | Puzzle Me This

With its second-story pilasters supporting a proudly monumental pediment, 290 Commercial Street certainly looks at first glance like something more than your ordinary retail building. (Never mind the current hot-pink paint job.) Indeed it was: the First National Bank of Provincetown. The original structure, whose extent can be discerned from the bracketed portion of the side eaves, was constructed in 1854. Eugene O’Neill was among the bank’s customers, and his signature card survives. In 1921, the first floor of the structure was extended across the front lawn and up to the sidewalk line. The upper two floors were extended later. The bank remained here until 1950, when it opened its new headquarters at 170 Commercial Street. More pictures and history»

307 Commercial Street

Provincetown Chamber of Commerce | Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch | Lopes Square Variety | Shell Designs | Atlantic Accents | Bay State Cruise Company

Fittingly, the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce is situated just about dead center at the commercial heart of Commercial Street: Lopes Square. It was constructed as the Board of Trade Building and originally stood ever so slightly offshore on pilings, reached by a short gangway. Because town criers have long had a formal or informal relation to the board or the chamber, I’m using this entry to briefly cover their history. (Kenneth Lonergan, the most recent town crier, is pictured here at the centenary of the Pilgrim Monument.) More pictures and history, plus the town criers»

5 Holway Avenue

5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap. 
Charles "Stormy" Mayo, 5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap.Hiebert Marine Laboratory, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

“We believe that the successful management and preservation of ecosystems depends on strong, detailed knowledge of species and their natural history,” declares the mission statement of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1975 by Charles Atkins “Stormy” Mayo III (b 1943; pictured); his wife, Barbara Shuler Mayo (1945-1988); and Graham Giese (b 1931), senior scientist at the center and oceanographer emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The coastal center’s headquarters are at 115 Bradford Street, but it is out on the waters of the Gulf of Maine — and here in this building — that its core work is done.

5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap.

Research Vessel Ibis, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.

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3 Jerome Smith Road

Frank Silva, William Marshall, Frank Meads, Bill Cabral and Frank Fratus, Provincetown (1917). 
3 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap.Lewis A. Young Post, No. 3152, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Look at those faces. These are just a few of the men who enlisted in the Navy in May 1917. Not the Portuguese Navy; the United States Navy. It’s a stirring testament that men with intimate ties to their seaside town but almost no cultural bonds to the nation in which they lived should have responded so quickly a month after President Woodrow Wilson declared war. (By the end of World War I, 319 residents of this small town had enlisted in the armed forces.) The ethnic composition also set the tenor of this post, which has long ranked among the more important Portuguese-American social institutions, though it is by no means exclusively so.

3 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.

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2 Masonic Place

2 Masonic Place 01, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap. 
2 Masonic Place 02, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap.King Hiram’s Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons | Cape Tip Sportswear

It always pays to look up beyond the store window. Here, you’ll find the square, the compass and the “G” — geometry, God, grand architect of the universe — that mark this as a home of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. King Hiram’s Lodge, which received its charter in 1795 from Paul Revere, is the oldest continuously operating institution in town. Its members are so tied into early Provincetown history that its early rolls read like a directory of street names: Atkins (and Mayo), Atwood, Conant, Cook, Dyer, Freeman, Johnson, Ryder and Young. Members still meet every first Monday in an ornate lodge room adorned by nearly life-sized trompe-l’oeil Masonic symbols, like the twin pillars and a virgin weeping over a broken column.

2 Masonic Place 03, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap. 

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24 Pearl Street

Advertisement in the Provincetown Art Association Fourth Annual Exhibition catalog (1918). Collection of the author. 
Frank A. Days Sr. Provincetown High School.Fine Arts Work Center

As a teacher, Charles W. Hawthorne is given much credit for Provincetown’s emergence as an art colony. As a landlord, Frank A. Days Jr. (1849-1937) isn’t given credit enough. The low-cost artist studios he and his successors furnished here and on Brewster Street ensured that many people were able to study and practice in Provincetown who otherwise could not have afforded to live here. Azorean by birth, Days arrived in Provincetown at the age of 18. In 1911, he bought a large parcel on Pearl Street and established a contracting and construction supply company — F. A. Days & Sons — with Frank A. Days Jr. (1877-1961) and Joseph A. Days. In 1914, Days constructed artists’ studios atop the lumber houses on the south side of the lumberyard and began renting them, first to Ross Moffett and Henry Sutter; soon thereafter to Hawthorne, Edwin Dickinson and Charles Kaeselau. These studios, renovated most recently in 2010, now form the historical core of the Fine Arts Work Center campus.

24 Pearl Street, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap. 

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† 11 Prince Street

11 Prince Street, Provincetown (ND). Parish scrap book. Courtesy of the Rev. Henry J. Dahl. 
"A History of St. Peter's Church, Provincetown, 1874-1949."Church of St. Peter the Apostle (1874)

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam. The words of Jesus, taken from the Gospel of Matthew, can be seen clearly in the scroll held by the right hand in the figure of St. Peter at the church that bears his name. “You are Rock, and on this rock I will build my church.” There could be no more fitting a patron for Provincetown than Peter, the fisherman, to whom Jesus gives the keys to the kingdom of heaven, which the figure holds in its left hand. The church building was completed and blessed on 11 October 1874 during the pastorate of the Rev. John J. Maguire (d 1894).

11 Prince Street, Provincetown (ND), by Bill Quinn. Published by Cape Cod Photos. Courtesy of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum (Salvador R. Vasques III Collection, No. PC 2747). 

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11 Prince Street

11 Prince Street, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap. 
The Rev. Henry J. Dahl, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap.Church of St. Peter the Apostle (2008)

Though the priesthood was a late vocation for the Rev. Henry J. Dahl (b 1941), pictured at left, he found himself involved in the arduous — if ultimately rewarding — challenge of church building within four years of his ordination in 1996. After helping the Rev. Marcel Bouchard construct a new home for Corpus Christi in East Sandwich, Father Dahl might reasonably have expected that he’d had his once-in-a-priest’s-lifetime experience in church development. Perhaps he imagined that his principal task when called to the pastorate of St. Peter’s in 2002 would be the maintenance and conservation of a building at 11 Prince Street that had after all been standing stoutly for 130 years; defying the Portland Gale and the Hurricane of 1938, among other onslaughts.

Provincetown offers nothing if not surprises, however. Only three years into his service on the lower Cape, Father Dahl was confronted — overnight in the dead of winter — with the worst catastrophe to befall the parish. St. Peter’s burned to the ground. And it fell to him to rebuild. Two-and-a-half years later, the deed was done, to designs by Tom Palanza of Mansfield, an architect and a deacon of the church.

11 Prince Street, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap.  More pictures and history»

5 Sandy Hill Lane

5 Sandy Hill Lane, Provincetown (2013), by David W. Dunlap 
"CASAS," by Carol Pugliese. Provincetown Community TV, via Vimeo.CASAS, Carrie A. Seaman Animal Shelter

If you thought Building Provincetown was somehow “above” posting videos of adorable kittens, you were mistaken. I was just waiting for the right entry. And this is it: CASAS, the no-kill shelter for adoptable cats and dogs from all over the lower Cape. Carol Pugliese produced a documentary on the shelter for Provincetown Community TV that is available through Vimeo. More history»

20 Shank Painter Road

20 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap. 
20 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap.Provincetown United Methodist Church

“Is God dead?” was the question posed by Time magazine in 1966. The answer could have been: “If He’s still alive, he sure isn’t paying much attention to the architecture being committed in His name.” The general descent in quality of religious buildings in the West after World War II reflected the trauma their builders had just endured; a conflict that left even the faithful with many doubts. Rather than try to inspire awe or mystery or rapture, post-war houses of worship seemed content to take their cues from stripped-down residential and commercial buildings.

In that context, the Methodist church designed by Donaldson Ray McMullin Associates of Cambridge (that’s one man’s name, not a three-person firm), built from 1958 to 1960, was a remarkable achievement. Its compelling nave, with arresting redwood parquetry and steeply-pitched, exposed roof beams, tends very much to direct one’s eyes and thoughts upward, while exuding warmth and a connection with the natural world and to the craft of boat building.

20 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap. 

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25 Shank Painter Road

25 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap.Engine 1 (also designated Engine 190) went into service in 2002. [Link] 

25 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap.Provincetown Fire Department Headquarters

With the construction in 1993-1994 of a new four-bay fire house and adjacent headquarters building, the Provincetown Fire Department — one of only two volunteer departments on Cape Cod — consolidated operations from three different locations in the West End and downtown: Pumper House No. 1, 117 Commercial Street (now a private home); Pumper House No. 2, 189 Commercial Street (now a public restroom); and Pumper House No. 3, the former headquarters, at 254 Commercial Street (now a kind of all-purpose streetfront public space).

25 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.Ladder 2 (192) of 2009 [Link] and Engine 3 (193) of 2003 [Link]. 

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26 Shank Painter Road

26 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap. 
26 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap.Provincetown Police Department Headquarters

In 2013, the people of Provincetown were having a hard time agreeing on anything regarding the Police Department. But it seemed to be generally acknowledged that a former funeral home, dating to 1975, had long since outlived its usefulness as police headquarters after 29 years of wear, tear, ad hoc repair and constant overstuffing. Just what the answer would be — a rebuilt station on this site, or a new station downtown or at 24 Race Point Road — remained elusive as this was being written. Chief Jeff Jaran had taken the remarkable step in 2012 of personally documenting many of the station’s most glaring deficiencies in a 25-minute video called Police Station Tour, introduced by Town Manager Sharon Lynn. It was difficult to watch it and conclude that everything was just fine as is.

"Police Station Tour," by Provincetown Community TV. On Vimeo.Police Chief Jeff Jaran in the dispatch room, on a video tour. [Link] 

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