Cape Cod National Seashore | Province Lands

Superintendent’s house

Superintendent's house, Beech Forest, by Nancy Marie Thibeault (1973).

Superintendent’s house, Beech Forest, by Nancy Marie Thibeault (1973).

On the east side of the parking lot at Beech Forest Trail are stone steps that led to the home of Henry and Eva Helmer. He was the superintendent of the Province Lands from the 1940s to the 1960s, when they were under state control. The house was razed years after his death in 1966. The tranquil one-mile trail runs through a variety of natural settings around Blackwater Pond. The comfort station, from 1964, was designed by F. Clifford Pearce Jr. The inviting Lily Pad Dock was built in the mid-1990s. The poet Mary Oliver drew much inspiration from this pond and its environs. If you should find a pencil secreted in the crook of a tree branch, it’s hers.


More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.

CCNS Province Lands | “Hippie House”

 

This fascinating structure, nestled on a wooded hillside north of Shank Painter Road, embodied the best traditions of outlaw construction in Provincetown: it was built where it shouldn’t have been, without any evident authorization to be there, of materials no one would use to build a house, by a person or persons unknown, at some indistinct time in the past, to serve an undefined purpose, which it did with surprising robustness. More pictures and history»

Cape Cod National Seashore | Province Lands

Province Lands bound stones

Province Lands bound stone B, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

Province Lands bound stone B, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

In 1692, the Province of Massachusetts Bay subsumed Plymouth Colony, including the colony’s common acreage on Cape Cod, which came to be known as the Province Lands. Provincetown was established within the Province Lands in 1727. Its residents were soon buying and selling parcels of property, ignoring the minor detail that the state owned the land inalienably — at least in theory. After decades of tension, the matter was resolved by the Statutes of 1893, Chapter 470, which effectively split the settled town from a 3,200-acre area north and west. The irregular border was marked at 15 intervals by tall granite markers, incised with the legend “STAT. 1893 CHAP. 470,″ “P. L.” and a letter designation. Two of the easiest to find are Bound B, at the entrance to the National Seashore on Province Lands Road, just behind the National Park Service sign; and Bound I, in the yard at 111 Race Point Road.


More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.