CCNS Province Lands | Municipal Airport (PVC)


More than 300 acres were taken out of the Province Lands to permit construction of the Provincetown Municipal Airport (PVC), a project begun in 1947. Burns & Kenerson were the original architects. The single runway — 7/25 — is 3,500 feet long. The first scheduled flights to and from Boston, operated by John C. Van Arsdale (1919-1997), began in late 1949 on Cessna Bobcats. 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»

330 Commercial Street

Freeman Building | Provincetown Tourism Office | Provincetown Community Television (PTV)

Prudent Provincetown. Why have three buildings for three functions? In 1873, as a gift to the town, Nathan Freeman built a mansard-topped structure that housed the Public Library on the first floor, a Y.M.C.A. on the second floor and a photo studio on the third. More pictures and history»

356 Commercial Street

Provincetown Public Library

The tower of the Provincetown Public Library is — and always was — a skyline ornament. But it was even more imposing in 1860 when it was built as the Center Methodist Church, with a steeple piercing the sky at 162 feet. The steeple came down after the Portland Gale of 1898, but the church nonetheless inspired Edward Hopper (as discussed by Stephen Borkowski with The New York Times), among other painters. The Methodists sold it in 1958 to Walter P. Chrysler Jr., whose father founded the Chrysler Corporation. He turned it into the Chrysler Art Museum, a fine-art collection now housed in Norfolk, Va. The old church was briefly the Center for the Arts before reopening in 1976 as the Provincetown Heritage Museum, curated by Josephine Del Deo. (Presciently, one of the life-size dioramas in the museum was “The 1873 Library,” whose wax-figure librarian, by Mary Bono, is shown above.) The museum’s astonishing, ship-in-a-bottle centerpiece was a half-scale model of the legendary schooner Rose Dorothea, built by Francis “Flyer” Santos. In 2005, the building began a new life as the Provincetown Public Library, replacing the Freeman building at 330 Commercial Street.

More pictures and history»

On Freeman Street

Douglas N. Trumbo Memorial, by Jackson Lambert, Freeman Street, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap. 
Douglas N. Trumbo Memorial, by Jackson Lambert, Freeman Street, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap.Douglas N. Trumbo Memorial

What would otherwise have been the dull sides of a small, utilitarian pump house were transformed by the artist Jackson Lambert (1919-2011) into a whimsical, fanciful and nearly three-dimensional graphic history of Provincetown, beginning with the arrival of Thorvald Ericsson (whether he arrived or not). There are cats and a seagull, salt works and a lobster trap, the Mayflower and the Monument and the Methodist church, all rendered like mosaic tiles on masonry blocks. More pictures and history»

† 1 High Pole Hill Road

Town Hall, depicted on the front door of the Town Hall safe, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap. 
1 High Pole Hill Road, Provincetown (±1854). Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell: Book 1, Page 113. Courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project (Dowd Collection).First Town Hall

Elevated high above the little village it served, the Town Hall of 1854 was clad in the very architecture of democracy — Greek Revival — though in its nobility, it could just as easily have been mistaken for a house of worship. With a pinnacle that could be seen far out to sea and a tower clock available for the citizenry to consult, Town Hall also served as a utilitarian landmark. What a splendid symbol of municipal government! And what a dumb idea for a public building: constructed of hard pine and situated well out of reach of any fire apparatus. You know what happens next, and on 16 February 1877, it did. Town Hall burned down, taking with it many of the records that would have made historical research so much more fruitful. Having paid $350 for High Pole Hill, the town was not about to walk away from its investment, though it would take another 30 years for the proper replacement to be found. ¶ Posted 2013-01-25

† 16 Jerome Smith Road

16 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap. 
16 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown (2009), by David W. Dunlap.Temporary Town Hall (2008-2010)

This was the seat of municipal government when Town Hall underwent its cellar-to-rooftop renovation. Or rather, these were the seats of municipal government, since the arrangement involved five trailers joined together in the Jerome Smith parking lot, opposite the Provincetown Skate Park. Roughly 40 town employees began reporting here for work in November 2008. The inside was no less Spartan. Quarters were almost ship-like in their compact economy. But somehow, the republic survived. ¶ Posted 2013-02-13