Central Wharf Company Ship Store.
Most of the business of the Central Wharf took place out on the water, but there was an imposing two-story building facing Commercial Street that was known as the ship store, “the whole of which is stored with a complete stock of ship chandlery [candles, wax, soap], ship stores, groceries, seamen’s outfits, paints and oils, coal and wood, the outfitting of vessels being a specialty with them,” said an 1890 account from the United States Commercial Reporter, reprinted by The Advocate in 1956. “From its earliest establishment, the house has been a favorite source of supply for vessels on their trips, and those forming business relations with it will find a large and superior stock from which to make selections.”¹
Red outline shows the Central Wharf Company Ship Store in this detail of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Provincetown, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, by the Sanborn Map Company, 1889. From the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. Digital ID No. g3764pm.g038261889. (Street names and red outline added by author. The numbers in italics are Sanborn identifiers, not addresses.)
The ship store in the late 19th century. Next to it, but far below the street grade, are a coal house and fish warehouse. In the foreground is the fine iron fence of the Edwin A. Grozier residence, 160 Commercial Street. Posted by Salvador R. Vasques III on his My Facebook Memorabilia Collection Facebook page, 15 April 2020.
The wharf was destroyed in the Portland Gale of November 1898. But the ship store and two adjoining buildings evidently survived into the early 20th century, when they were acquired by Edwin Atkins Grozier (1859-1924), the owner of The Boston Post and the magnificent house at 160 Commercial Street, just across the way. By 1910, the ship store and the rest of the Central Wharf remnants had been cleared, opening a fine vista both for the Grozier family and for members of the public who enjoyed the new waterfront Grozier Park.
¶ Last updated on 7 July 2020.
163 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 163 Commercial Street:
Thumbnail image: Posted by Salvador R. Vasques III on his My Facebook Memorabilia Collection Facebook page, 15 April 2020.
¹ “Provincetown Was a Thriving Town, Led All New England in Cod in 1890,” The Provincetown Advocate, 2 February 1956.