6 Winthrop Street

6 Winthrop Street, Atwood Foss House, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

6 Winthrop Street, Atwood Foss House, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

“Atwood Foss House,” the handpainted sign says on this noteworthy example of the gable-front Greek Revival style. John Atwood is said to have constructed this house out at Long Point around 1836, near a little bridge over the Lobster Plain. Once the structure was floated over to town, it served as the home of Benjamin Crocker, who had a dry and fancy goods shop at the turn of the 20th century. An instructive comparison is with 12 Winthrop, which is essentially the same house with less ornamental frou-frou. James Franklin Foss bought No. 6 in 1975. He also owns the nearby Watership Inn and the Gifford House Inn.


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.

† 22 Winthrop Street

22 Winthrop Street, Provincetown (1880). 1880 Atlas of Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Courtesy of Ken Janson and Robert Vetrick.Lock Up

The town jail in the 19th century was way out in the farmland of Winthrop Street. It was built in 1845 and served as the principal holding facility until the construction of the current Town Hall, which had detention cells in the basement. Rest of the entry to be written.

(On the 1880 atlas plate, note that on the opposite side of Winthrop Street, south of Bradford Street, is the property of B. H. Dyer. This is currently Dyer’s Barn, 9 Winthrop Street.)

43 Winthrop Street

43 Winthrop Street, Thomas Killburn gravestone of 1794, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

43 Winthrop Street, Thomas Killburn gravestone of 1794, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

Town Cemetery is the place to go for star-gazing (Norman Mailer, Robert Motherwell, et alia). At St. Peter’s Cemetery, you can immerse yourself in the story of Portuguese Provincetown. But if it’s the classic New England death’s-head grave markers you’re seeking, you must visit the Winthrop Street Cemetery, the oldest existing burial ground in town. Here you’ll find an abundance of winged skulls, like the especially toothy fellow pictured here, symbolizing the ascent to heaven of the soul of Thomas Killburn, who died 4 August 1794, at 76 (meaning he had been born before the incorporation of Provincetown in 1727). His epitaph — borrowed somewhat from the tomb of Edward, the Black Prince: “Stop here my Friend and cast an eye / As you are now so once was i / As i am now so you must be / Prepare for Death and follow me.”

43 Winthrop Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

43 Winthrop Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

The founding date of the cemetery is given as 1723, based on the oldest known stone, which is inscribed — under a death’s head: “HERE LYES ye BODY OF Mrs. DESIER COWING ye WIFE OF Mr. JOHN COWING WHO DECd FEBry ye 8 1723/4 IN ye 40 YEAR OF HER AGE.” A descendant, Brian Cowing, lives across the road at 22 Brown Street. In 1962, Salvador R. Vasques III compiled an alphabetical record of inscriptions, which can be consulted on the Provincetown History Preservation Project website. There are some 600 burials, but many are difficult to find. Maintenance has been a problem for at least a half century, often dependent on volunteers to re-erect toppled stones and clear away underbrush from the hillocks. In recent years, Dr. Richard Keating, one of the first residents of Seashore Point, has been a leader in the effort to unearth and conserve graves and monuments.

43 Winthrop Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

43 Winthrop Street, 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.