Town Green (Bas Relief Park)


The centerpiece of Town Green — a little park with a lot of topography — is a monument to the Pilgrims. It’s titled Signing the Compact, but is better known simply as “the bas relief.” Just as Town Green is better known as Bas Relief Park. The park and the monument date from 1920, the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landfall. The splendid vista of the Pilgrim Monument is no accident. The 170-foot-wide park property, once occupied by houses, was taken by the state under eminent domain for just that purpose. Picture essay and more history »

211½ Bradford Street

Mildred Greensfelder Playground

The forlorn sign doesn’t begin to hint at the pioneering influence of Mildred (Wood) Greensfelder, who was the leading force in the 1940s and the 1950s for the creation, maintenance and vitalization of the town’s principal playgrounds; here, on Howland Street, and in the West End, at Nickerson Street. Such was Mrs. Greensfelder’s identification with the issue of playgrounds that Mary Hackett proposed in 1954 that the new elementary school be named in her honor, “as her constancy and perseverance has resulted in a real contribution to the health and happiness of our children.” (“Name for School,” The Advocate, Nov. 18, 1954.)

Naturally — this being Provincetown — not even the subject of playgrounds is pure mom-and-apple-pie. Mrs. Greensfelder found herself in a nasty battle with the Recreation Commission, of all bodies. The donnybrook involved included her resignation from the committee and then a legal struggle that went to court and before the voters. The issue seems to have boiled down to how much macadam should be in a playground and who had the authority to install — if Mrs. Greensfelder didn’t aprrove. And she did not approve. “It is my firm belief,” she declared in 1950, “that such a surface, even when constantly supervised, will be hazardous, and wounds received from falls on macadam can be dangerous and dirty, and bones and skulls can be broken.” (“Pioneer Worker Quits in Protest,” The Advocate, May 25, 1950.)

Even when she and her husband, the playwright Elmer L. Greensfelder, moved to Philadelphia, Mrs. Greensfelder continued to hold a strong interest in the welfare of the playgrounds. In absentia, she urged voters before the Town Meeting of 1956 to approve the money necessary for the removal of dirty sand and the “spreading of clean sand in both playgrounds.”

CCNS Herring Cove | New Beach


There are few beaches along the Atlantic from which you can watch the sun set. Herring Cove Beach (formerly New Beach) is one of them. In the 19th century, much of the upland area of the modern-day beach lay under the waters of Lancy’s Harbor. Nearby was a small settlement of fishermen’s huts, called Herring Cove. Picture essay and more history»

Manuel N. Lopes Square

Manuel N. Lopes was born on Christmas Day of 1892 in Olhao, Portugal. A little more than 25 years later, on 18 July 1918, he was killed in the Battle of Château-Thierry, southwest of Soissons, France — fighting for the United States of America. In between, he had come of age in Provincetown, the son of Manuel Peter Lopes (d 1919) and Mary Theresa (Souza) Lopes (±1861-1946) and the brother of Mary J. Salvador, Mary C. Macara and Mary S. Santos. The younger Manuel was a fish dealer as a civilian. As a soldier, he was honored posthumously for “gallantry in action and especially meritorious services.” And he and four other Provincetown men who had died in the Great War were also honored in 1938 by having squares named after them.

"Lobster Pot Tree and Pilgrim Monument with Lights," by Ewa Nogiec. From "Beautiful Autumn," I Am Provincetown.
More pictures and history»

† 497 Commercial Street

Brown’s Bathing Beach

“By the freezer, by the freezer, by the beautiful freezer. You and me, sir; you and me, sir; oh, how happy we’ll be, sir.” These aren’t real lyrics but they certainly would have applied to Brown’s Bathing Beach, a popular East End recreation spot around the turn of the 20th century. Unless one remembers that the waterfront was first and foremost an industrial precinct, it may be hard to understand why people would have gone bathing just a few wards from the Consolidated Weir Company’s enormous cold storage plant — as if they had anywhere to go that wasn’t cheek-by-jowl with some freezer plant or active wharf. More pictures and history»

608 Commercial Street

Suzanne’s Garden

Patience et longueur de temps font plus que force et que rage. “Patience and time do more than strength and passion.” The aphorism, from Jean de la Fontaine, is — fittingly — the motto of Suzanne’s Garden, a public park that took form in a most unlikely way over a rather long span of time. To begin, it occupies a small fraction of what was once the Sears family estate, one of the “great lots” that ran from harbor to ocean until the creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore. The property was purchased in 1959 by Avrom “Arlie” Sinaiko (1902-1984), a doctor and a sculptor, and his wife, Suzanne Sinaiko (1918-1998). This was once the yard of 606 Commercial [could this be where the Ford was half-buried in 1969?] but was split off by the Sinaikos when they sold No. 606, and retained as a vacant lot. More pictures and history»

682R Commercial Street

Whistle Path Woods

This has nothing to do with just putting your lips together and blowing. Whistle Path is a footpath winding through the northwest corner of these woods that was used by so many cranberry pickers on their way between town and dune bogs in the 19th century that engineers on the Old Colony Railroad were compelled to sound a warning where their tracks crossed the path. As the configuration suggests, the seven-acre Whistle Path Woods were once part of a “great lot” running from Provincetown Harbor to the Atlantic Ocean. The 80-acre parcel was purchased in 1919 by the artist Max Bohm, whose home and studio, Grand View, 676 Commercial, is still the most imposing human-created feature on the site. Continue reading

784 Commercial Street

Foss Woods

This 15-acre conservation area is, by degrees, lending its name to the small neighborhood between the East End and Mayflower Heights/Beach Point. And that seems appropriate, since the Foss family of Malden, Mass., has been an important part of life in the eastern outskirts for more than a century. More pictures and history»

74-82 Harry Kemp Way

82 Harry Kemp Way, Provincetown (2011), by David W. DunlapNicky’s Park (Ray and Nicky Wells Conservation Area)

Nicky’s Park is a four-acre parcel, owned and managed by the town through the Conservation Commission, about half of it wetland. It is intended “for quiet public enjoyment at a level of use appropriate to sustain the significant natural resources.” The name honors Nicholas and Ray Wells, influential movers in real estate, commerce and the arts from the 1960s through the early 1980s, whose land this was. More history»

61 Howland Street

61 Howland Street, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap. 
Old Colony Nature Pathway

This 24.6-acre open space, owned by the town, stretches about 1.3 miles from Howland Street, where it is essentially an extension of Harry Kemp Way, to a point just beyond Snail Road. It is known as the Old Colony Nature Pathway as it occupies the right-of-way of the Old Colony (later New Haven) Railroad. More pictures, history and a map»

16 Jerome Smith Road

16 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap. 
16 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap.Provincetown Skate Park

This 10,000-square-foot corner of the municipal Jerome Smith parking lot was set aside in 2003 as a skate park, as Town Meeting approved a $50,000 budget. The parcel was fenced in and graded with smooth concrete. Ray Duarte and other highway workers assembled the ramps and obstacles, as did volunteers like Nathan Herrick, John Lambrou, E.J. Martinez and Wesley Medeiros. The park is run by the Recreation Department. • Assessor’s Online Database ¶ Posted 2013-02-13

12 Pilgrim Heights Road

12 Pilgrim Heights Road, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap. 
12 Pilgrim Heights Road, Provincetown. Map by David W. Dunlap.Provincetown Conservation Trust Land

An irregularly-shaped, 1.39-acre parcel of heathland was granted to the Provincetown Conservation Trust in 1983 by Sumner E. Robinson (1931-1999). Born in Boston, Robinson attended Cornell and New York University. In 1957, he founded/took over [?] the World of Watson’s Department Store in Orleans, which he owned and ran for the next 29 years. He lived in Provincetown, Orleans and Fort Lauderdale. Robinson also gave a 0.38-acre parcel to the trust at 2 Pilgrim Heights Road. • Assessor’s Online Database ¶ Posted 2013-06-23

65R-67 Pleasant Street

65 Pleasant Street, Provincetown.Ruth E. Hiebert (1922-2004) — benefactor, advocate, businesswoman and occasional lightning rod — started her life larger than life as the only child of Provincetown’s most famous physician, Dr. Daniel Hiebert and his wife, Emily L. Hiebert. She spent her final years here, in a large home she’d built for herself in the mid-1990s. Hiebert graduated from Provincetown High School and continued her studies at Tufts University, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in 1944. During World War II, she met a young lawyer named Maurice E. Fitzgerald (d 1969), who was serving in the Navy, when his ship visited Provincetown. They were to become lifetime companions. More history »

Pilgrims’ First Landing Park

Province Lands Road Rotary, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap. 
"A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England" (1865 edition).Pilgrims’ First Landing Park

The rotary at land’s end is the site of the First Landing Marker, which rises from an apron of commemorative and memorial paving stones. It was originally placed here in 1917 by members of the Research Club, an antiquarian minded group of Mayflower descendants that had been founded seven years earlier at 84 Bradford Street. They based their dubious assertion about the landing spot on a map in an 1865 edition of A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plymouth in New England, by Certain English Adventurers, Both Merchants and Others, published in London in 1622 and better known as Mourt’s Relation, after the typographically corrupted name of the author of its preface: George Morton.

Province Lands Road Rotary, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap. 

More pictures and history»

179-185 Route 6

179-185 Route 6, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap. 
179-185 Route 6, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.Shank Painter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

To appreciate the importance of this 29.5-acre refuge, walk out to the end of the viewing platform and look across Shank Painter Pond. Even in summer, a heavy tree cover cannot fully disguise the density of development along the pond’s southern shore. “In 1975, 1986 and later in 1995, the town’s open-space plan rated this area as the town’s top priority for protection,” the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts said of Shank Painter Pond. “In spite of these declarations, exorbitant land prices and public sentiment against eminent domain land takings kept its acquisition for conservation out of reach.” What led to the creation of this sanctuary was one of the boldest development plans to date. In 1995, the Patrick family (of Marine Specialties renown), proposed a 19-lot subdivision on property along the north shore that they had owned since the 1970s. More pictures and history»

Route 6

Route 6 and Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap.Whale’s Tail Memorial by Robert Koch, above; fire hydrant by Ilene Charles, below. 

Route 6 and Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap.Pilgrim Bark Park

This being Provincetown, there would be no place for a utilitarian dog run; especially since a mastiff and a springer spaniel were among the passengers aboard the Mayflower — or so says the nonprofit Provincetown Dog Park Association, which opened this park in 2008 on a one-acre strip of the original Route 6 right of way. There are two off-leash runs, one of them set aside especially for smaller dogs, 25 pounds and under. Artists have contributed substantially to the park. Whale’s Tail Memorial by Robert Koch is a tall steel sculpture that could also be taken as an eternal flame, rising over brick and bluestone pavers inscribed with personal, intimate tributes. More pictures and history»

244 Route 6

244 Route 6, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap. 
Rear Adm. Robley D. Evans. Wikimedia Commons.Evans Field

Almost directly opposite the end of Shank Painter Road, across Route 6, appears a large clearing in the woods. If you go exploring there, you’ll not only be stepping back into Provincetown history, you may even be stepping on Cuban soil — if local legend can be believed. For this was Evans Field, graded and constructed in 1905 on what had been the cranberry bog of Joe Holmes, by officers of the North Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Rear Adm. Robley D. “Fighting Bob” Evans (1846-1912), for whom the field was named. Best known for leading the Great White Fleet on a round-the-world projection of America’s growing power, Evans is pictured at left.

Evans Field, Provincetown (±1905). Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell: Book 4, Page 7. Courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project (Dowd Collection). 

More pictures and history»

386 Route 6

386 Route 6, Provincetown (2013), by David W. Dunlap. 
386 Route 6, Provincetown (2013), by David W. Dunlap.Dunes’ Edge Campground

It’s still possible for two people to stay in Provincetown for less than $50 a night — thanks to Robert Collinson (1920-1978), who founded the Dunes’ Edge tent site in 1960; his widow, Miriam M. Collinson (b 1942), who kept it going long after his death; the Town of Provincetown; and the Trustees of Reservations, a statewide trust founded in 1891 that is chartered to hold land tax free for the benefit of the public. The Trustees acquired this 17-acre property on the edge of the Cape Cod National Seashore in 2013 after four years of negotiation. They continue to run it as a seasonal campground for 85 standard tents, pop-up tents and vans, as well as 15 motor homes or travel trailers. Besides affordable accommodations, the Dunes’ Edge deal also preserves a priceless relic of woodland living, 1960s style.

386 Route 6, Provincetown (2013), by David W. Dunlap. 

More pictures and history»