Provincetown History Snippet: Helltown

Provincetown History Snippet: Helltown

Helltown was a settlement south of Hatches Harbor, with 33 buildings, a fleet of 30 dories, and a working population of about 125 fishermen. When Mary Heaton Vorse asked a captain why it was called Helltown, he answered, “because of the helling that went on there.”...
Provincetown History Snippets: Library on the Move!

Provincetown History Snippets: Library on the Move!

If you’re looking at the Provincetown Public Library, then you’re looking back in time! It started life as the Center Methodist Episcopal Church and was impressive for its time, with a 162-foot tower housing a bronze bell. The spire was damaged during the...
Provincetown History Snippets: HMS Somerset III

Provincetown History Snippets: HMS Somerset III

The British man-of-war Somerset III terrorized the Cape area for some years up to and during the American Revolution, and was often anchored in Provincetown Harbor, where “boats frequently landed, and the officers helped themselves to water, provisions, and anything...
Provincetown History Snippet: Fight Smart, Harm Few

Provincetown History Snippet: Fight Smart, Harm Few

Last year, the wreck of the pirate ship Whydah gave up part of her captain: a leg bone found in concretion is widely believed by archaeologists to belong to “Black Sam” Bellamy, New England’s most famous pirate, who became wealthy not because of greed but through...
Provincetown History Snippet: Sassafras and Colonization

Provincetown History Snippet: Sassafras and Colonization

Sassafras was valued in England for the medicinal qualities of its roots (it was supposed to cure both syphilis and smallpox!), so much so that two ships were sent on the “Great Sassafras Hunt” to New England. One of the captains had previously sailed with...
Provincetown History Snippets: Ptown’s Original Bear

Provincetown History Snippets: Ptown’s Original Bear

Provincetown’s Donald Baxter MacMillan went on 30 expeditions to the Far North between 1908 and 1954.   He was 34 years old on his first trip and a few days short of 80 when he completed his final journey. “While I would like to go into the Arctic for the adventure...
Provincetown History Snippet: Saving Sailors

Provincetown History Snippet: Saving Sailors

In the early 1800s, winters saw an average of two wrecks off the Outer Cape every month. Many sailors made it to shore—and then froze to death right on the beach. In 1872 an efficient lifesaving service was put into operation, with stations every five miles on the...
Provincetown History Snippet: Harry Kemp and Plymouth Rock

Provincetown History Snippet: Harry Kemp and Plymouth Rock

Called the “hero of adolescent Americans,” Harry Kemp was a poet and prose writer who lived and worked in Provincetown during the mid-20th century. What you might not know about him is that he was terminally frustrated with the myth that the Pilgrims first arrived in...
Provincetown History Snippet: Norman Rockwell in Ptown

Provincetown History Snippet: Norman Rockwell in Ptown

It’s not an obvious connection, that between Provincetown and an artist of iconic mid-century Americana, but Norman Rockwell did in fact study here under Charles Hawthorne, and the August 20, 1955 cover of the Saturday Evening Post—titled Mermaid (A Fair Catch)— was...
Provincetown History Snippet: Bound East for Cardiff

Provincetown History Snippet: Bound East for Cardiff

Eugene O’Neill arrived in Ptown in 1916. He was a 27-year-old Princeton dropout who’d been spending his time at sea in a tramp steamer and, almost incidentally, writing some plays. That summer he found a stage for them. In 1915, the summer before O’Neill arrived, a...
Provincetown History Snippets: Rescuing Marine Mammals

Provincetown History Snippets: Rescuing Marine Mammals

Cape Cod is one of only a few places in the world where multiple whales and dolphins frequently beach themselves together on the shore. These mass stranding events require rapid response in order to save as many of them as possible. The International Fund for Animal...
Provincetown History Snippets: The White Wind Inn For Sale!

Provincetown History Snippets: The White Wind Inn For Sale!

One of Ptown’s iconic inns is for sale! For more than four decades, this Second-Empire style house has served the needs of Ptown visitors, starting out as the Casa Vistosa in the 1950s. Architect and historian David Dunlap has said it has “one of the best mansard...
Provincetown History Snippets: Race Point Light Station

Provincetown History Snippets: Race Point Light Station

Race Point’s name comes from the strong crosscurrent (known as a “race”) that made navigation around the northern tip of Cape Cod a nightmare for sailors. Before the construction of the canal, every vessel traveling along the coast between Boston and points south had...
Provincetown History Snippets: Freezing Fish

Provincetown History Snippets: Freezing Fish

Anyone who passes the Ice House on Commercial Street in the East End, across from the Schoolhouse, knows how the condominium complex stands out on this residential area. When Provincetown was a major fishing port, fish had to be kept on ice for the journey to Boston...
Provincetown History Snippets: The Provincetown Asylum

Provincetown History Snippets: The Provincetown Asylum

In the 1800s, it seemed no town was complete without an asylum or almshouse. In some cases, these institutions purported to treat mental illness; in reality, most were designed to warehouse those who couldn’t function in town; there was no social safety net for the...
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