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.
(Former) Provincetown Community Center
The Colonial-style New Governor Bradford School rose from the ashes of the original. Nearly 100 pupils were enrolled here before it closed in the mid ’50s. The building reopened as the Provincetown Community Center in 1956, under the charge of the town Recreation Commission. Picture essay and more history »
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 »
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.
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.”
Seen from across Herring Cove, the National Park Service’s new Herring Cove bath house pavilions, which opened in 2013, seem almost to be levitating over the beach. Well, indeed they are. Several feet. The entire complex is on pilings, allowing surge waves to pass underneath, as well as to allow the entire complex to be moved farther upland if necessary. That is one of several attractions designed into the $5 million project by its architect and project manager, Amy Sebring, of the park service’s design and construction division. More pictures and history»