CCNS Race Point | Life-Saving Station Museum

 

The Old Harbor Life-Saving Station was built in Chatham in 1897, based on the handsome “Duluth” prototype designed by George R. Tolman, examples of which proliferated along the Atlantic coast and Lake Superior. More pictures and history»

Cape Cod National Seashore | Race Point

Old Harbor Museum

Old Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Old Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Old Harbor station being transported to Provincetown, by Josephine Del Deo (1977), courtesy of the Provinceton Public Library.

Old Harbor station being transported to Provincetown, by Josephine Del Deo (1977), courtesy of the Provinceton Public Library.

The Old Harbor Life-Saving Station was built in Chatham in 1897, based on the Duluth-style prototype of 1893 by George Tolman. It was decommissioned in 1944. The Park Service bought it in 1973 and moved the building down cape, by barge, in 1977. (Paradoxically, the Duluth-style Wood End station was razed in the 1960s.) In Seashore Sentinel, Richard Ryder told of an old salt who said, as he watched the spectacle, “I’ve cruised by a lot of Coast Guard stations during my lifetime, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a Coast Guard station cruise by me.” An extensive renovation began in 2008. Old Harbor is now a museum where the staff demonstrates the breeches buoy, a gun-launched lifeline used to pluck sailors off foundering vessels when it was too rough even for the surfboats.


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.

Cape Cod National Seashore | Race Point

Race Point Station

Race Point Station, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Race Point Station, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

The Race Point Life-Saving Station was built in 1872. What is now the Oversand Station was built in 1888 as a stable. The nearby garage served as a barn. Capt. Samuel Fisher, the keeper from 1888 to 1915, helplessly heard the last signal of the Portland in the 1898 gale, before she sank with 192 aboard. In 1922, two years into Prohibition, the schooner Annie L. Spindler, out of Nova Scotia, ran aground with a cargo of Haig & Haig whiskey. It took no time for word to reach town, even before her captain could ask the station to put the hooch in protective custody. The Coast Guard added a main building with a hipped roof and neo-Classical portico in the early ’30s. The watch tower, designed by Julian Latham, looked like a dune shack on 25-foot-high stilts. After the Coast Guard moved into town in 1979, the station was taken over by the National Park Service. It is used today by the Rangers.

Race Point Station, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Race Point Station, by David W. Dunlap (2009).


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 Race Point | First Race Point Light

 

The sight of it can indeed make the pulse or heart race. But the “race” in Race Point refers to the strong currents around the small peninsula on which first lighthouse was built in 1816. The Race Point Light Station was originally a 20-foot rubblestone tower with a revolving light. Joshua Dyer was the first keeper.

Cape Cod National Seashore | Race Point

Race Point Light

Race Point Light, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

Race Point Light, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

“Race” refers to the strong currents around the peninsula on which the first lighthouse was built in 1816. The lighthouse that stands today, flashing white every 10 seconds, was built in 1876. It is a 40-foot-high cylindrical tower of cast iron and brick. The complex around it includes the keeper’s house of 1874-76, the fog signal building of 1888 (originally a whistle, but converted in 1962 to a horn), and the oil house. Before electrification in 1957, the lamp burned kerosene oil. It was automated in 1972. The Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation leased the station in 1995. Volunteers under Jim Walker began a restoration project in 1996 that has rejuvenated the landmark. Solar panels were installed in 2003 and a wind turbine was added in 2007. The keeper’s house was opened to paying guests in 1997, yielding needed revenue. The whistle house, too, has been opened to guests.


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.

Cape Cod National Seashore | Race Point

Race Point settlement

Race Point, by R. Smith (1900), courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

Race Point, by R. Smith (1900), courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

Race Point on "A Map of the Extremity of Cape Cod "(1835), courtesy of John Dowd.

Race Point on “A Map of the Extremity of Cape Cod “(1835), courtesy of John Dowd.

A fishing community developed on the bay side of Race Point; small but substantial enough to warrant its own school district in 1835, by which time Race Point had a dozen or more fishermen’s and pilots’ huts, as well as the salt works of Elisha Dyer and Nathaniel Covill. It was, however, separated from the Cape Cod mainland by Hatches Harbor and the long Race Run, a body of water that made the point hard to reach until the construction of a bridge in 1839. At least one Race Point cottage, Wild Goose, seems to have survived in town, at 14 Schueler Boulevard. There must surely be others.


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.