|Our original Town Hall on High Pole Hill, where the Pilgrim Monument stands today.|
Once the house was moved Rev. Ryder donated the land to the Town, and purchased two adjoining estates as well, to accommodate the rather grand design of Boston architect John A. Fox, and in August of 1886 the largest town hall ever built on Cape Cod was dedicated. It had cost $50,400 to build, and stood as a testament to the tremendous success of Provincetown in its early fishing and whaling days.
One of the nicest features that came out of this project is the creation of space to really highlight a bit of the Town's art collection, consisting of roughly 300 works of art which have been donated, or acquired by the Town, over many years. Some of these paintings periodically rotate into the public view when works adorning the walls of Town Hall and other town offices are exchanged for different works from the collection, while others are on permanent display. There is a new space at the far end of the first floor hallway permanently showcasing one of Charles W. Hawthorne's greatest paintings, entitled Crew of the Philomena Manta, painted in 1915 and made a gift to the Town of Provincetown by the artist in 1916.
Hawthorne founded the Cape Cod School of art here in 1899, and was perhaps the greatest influence on local artists of that time. Click to see my July 10th post about Hawthorne and his art school. By 1916 Provincetown had 8 art schools with some 300 students, in great part due to the efforts of Hawthorne and some of his early protégés. Seeing the artworks displayed on Town Hall walls is one of the best reasons to take a stroll through the building. And one of the best perks of working for the town is that these folks each get to choose one of these 300 paintings to hang in their offices. Next time you're there paying your excise tax or getting your shellfishing license, take a look around you and enjoy some of this wonderful art.