Historic Interest

Provincetown has a diverse history marked by the Pilgrims first landing in the New World in 1620, the creation of the Country’s oldest continuous arts colony, and the birthplace of modern American theater – three events which shaped the history and people of Provincetown.

Pilgrims’ First Landing

In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and made their first landing in the New World in Provincetown Harbor. The Pilgrims stayed in Provincetown for five weeks, where they created and signed the Mayflower Compact. They then continued on to their ultimate destination of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrim Landing is located at the foot of Commercial Street near the Provincetown Inn.

The First Universalist Church

236 Commercial Street  Built in 1847, is the oldest church in Provincetown. Its “Christopher Wren” tower is thought to have been inspired by the famous English architect. It is now called the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House. www.uumh.org

Pilgrim Monument & Museum

The Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association built the Pilgrim Monument to honor the Pilgrims’ first landing in Provincetown. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1907. In 1910, President William Howard Taft dedicated the finished 252-foot tower. In 1910, the Cape’s first building built to house a museum opened at the base of the monument, to educate the public about Provincetown’s role in Pilgrim history and American history.   Today, Millions of visitors and generations of local residents have admired and climbed the 252 foot granite Pilgrim Monument for almost 100 years.  www.pilgrim-monument.org

Provincetown Art Colony

Provincetown’s celebrated reputation as the nation’s oldest art colony began when painter Charles Webster Hawthorne arrived in Provincetown in 1899. Shortly thereafter, he founded the Cape Cod School of Art, where he taught painting for the following 30 summers.  Most of the galleries are clustered in the East End. Summer hours: 11am-10pm; some close briefly afternoons. The Friday night gallery stroll is a Provincetown tradition.

Museums and Galleries

The Pilgrim Monument

The monument was built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the first landfall of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the signing in Provincetown Harbor of the Mayflower Compact. This 252-foot-tall (76.8 m) campanile is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States, and is part of the Provincetown Historic District. The walk to the top is all stairs with no elevator. The Provincetown Museum is a charming mix of the old and the new. The permanent exhibits retain the charm of an old-fashioned history museum. Exhibits highlight the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims, the town’s rich maritime history, the early days of modern American theater in Provincetown, and the building of the monument.   There is also a recreation of a 19th century sea captain’s parlor at home and his quarters at sea, a diorama of the Mayflower Compact being signed aboard the Mayflower in Provincetown Harbor, and a scale model of the first theater of the Provincetown Players. www.pilgrim-monument.org

The Provincetown Art Association and Museum

(PAAM) is located at 460 Commercial Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is the most attended art museum on Cape Cod. The museum’s permanent collection includes over 2,500 objects, a number which continues to grow through donations and new acquisitions. PAAM mounts approximately forty exhibitions each year,serving as a significant cultural and educational resource for the Provincetown and Cape Cod communities.  www.paam.org

The Whydah Pirate Museum

The museum is located downtown at the tip of MacMillan Pier.   After years of searching, underwater explorer Barry Clifford and our project team made world headlines with the discovery of the pirate ship Whydah.

Wrecked in a storm off Cape Cod in 1717, the Whydah pirate shipwreck and her treasures are still being archaeologically recovered. With the discovery of over two hundred thousand artifacts – including sixty cannon, over ten thousand coins, 400 pieces of Akan gold jewelry, and much more – this project has completely revised the world’s understanding of pirates.  This museum is a staff favorite.   www.whydah.com