Provincetown, Massachusetts

The Provincetown Public Library, located in the heart of downtown Provincetown on Commercial Street, serves as both a literal and metaphorical hub for the town.

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Tom Riley (GoXplr Account)

About This Location

The Provincetown Public Library, located in the heart of downtown Provincetown on Commercial Street, serves as both a literal and metaphorical hub for the local community. This venerable institution houses an extensive collection of nearly 40,000 items, providing a treasure trove of knowledge and entertainment to its patrons. In addition to its vast library resources, the Provincetown Public Library proudly showcases more than 30 works of art from the town's esteemed Art Collection.

One of the library's most captivating features can be found on its top floor—a remarkable model of the Rose Dorothea Schooner. This model pays homage to the famed "Indian Head" schooners, with the original Rose Dorothea being a notable vessel in Provincetown's maritime history. Designed by Thomas McManus and constructed at the Tarr & James Shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts, in 1905, the Rose Dorothea was a vessel of exceptional design. Measuring 108 feet in length, weighing over 100 tons, and manned by a crew of 26 sailors, she possessed a rounded bow that allowed her to sail closer to the wind, giving her a distinct advantage over other schooners of her time.

The Rose Dorothea's moment of glory came during Boston's Old Home Week Celebration in August 1907, when Sir Thomas Lipton offered a cup for a Fishermen's Race in Massachusetts Bay. Two Provincetown schooners, the Rose Dorothea and the Jessie Costa, were among the competitors. The race, a grueling 42-mile course, started from Thieves Ledge off Boston Light, rounded Davis Ledge off Minot's Light, proceeded to Eastern Point in Gloucester, and finally returned to Boston. Despite losing her fore-topmast during the last leg of the race, the Rose Dorothea, captained by Marion Perry and skippered by John Watson, claimed victory, winning the prestigious Lipton Cup along with a $650 cash prize. The triumphant return of the Rose Dorothea to Provincetown on August 1, 1907, was celebrated with great enthusiasm, symbolized by a broom tied to her mast, signifying a "clean sweep." No subsequent race was ever held to challenge the Lipton Cup.

To commemorate this historic vessel, construction began in the Heritage Museum, which later became the Provincetown Public Library, to create a half-scale replica of the Rose Dorothea. This extraordinary model, spanning 64 feet in length with a beam of 12 feet and 6 inches, was unveiled and dedicated on June 25, 1988. It stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Rose Dorothea and her significant contribution to Provincetown's maritime heritage.

Beyond its rich history and remarkable model, the Provincetown Public Library offers visitors sweeping views of Provincetown Harbor, providing a serene and picturesque backdrop for reading, reflection, and community engagement.

The Provincetown Public Library's building itself holds historical significance, having originally served as a church constructed in 1860. Known as the Center Methodist Church, this architectural gem earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places on October 31, 1975. This prestigious recognition underscores the building's architectural and cultural importance within the community, signifying its enduring value as a historical landmark. It's reference number is 75000247.

Location Features

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356 Commercial Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts

GPS Coordinates:
42.053500, -70.184528
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
Parking in Provincetown is very limited, especially in the summer. The largest parking lot can be found a few hundred feet from the library at MacMillan Pier. Parking in this lot is $3.50 per hour $35 maximum in 24 hours. There are also some metered parking spots off Commercial Street.


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