George W. Standish, Master Carpenter & Spar Maker.
In the late 19th century and into the early 1900s, the site now occupied by the Anchor Inn Beach House was a shipyard that specialized in the making and repair of spars; typically, the rounded timbers designated yards, from which sails were hung; or booms, along which sails were stretched; or the masts themselves. “Particular attention paid to yachts,” George Washington Standish (1827-1905) promised in an 1885 advertisement. Irma Ruckstuhl described the mast-making process vividly in Old Provincetown in Early Photographs: “The work of forming a ship’s mast from a huge log with a shipwright’s adz and a variety of special planes was done completely by hand, using only the experienced eye as a gauge.” Strenuous as the work was, Standish kept at it until within a month of his death, at 77, of influenza (“la grippe,” the death certificate said).
He was born in Warren, Me., not far from Penobscot Bay, and married Anne Creighton (1830-1916). Provincetown, however, was his home for more than 40 years, the Yarmouth Register said. And how appropriate for someone named Standish. According to the Town Records and Reports for 1904, at a Town Meeting just three months before he died, “George Washington Standish, lineal descendant of Capt. Myles Standish, was requested to cast the first ballot for the Town to raise and appropriate $5,000 to aid in building the Pilgrim Monument.”
George Standish’s shipyard sat between Joseph Manta’s Wharf (center) and B. H. Dyer’s Wharf (extreme right). The whaling brig D. A. Small was tied up at Dyer’s when this photo was taken in the late 1880s. In the distance, beyond Manta’s Wharf, is Bowley’s (or Steamboat) Wharf. Posted by Salvador R. Vasques III to the My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection page on Facebook, 7 August 2016. “Cite of Anchor and Ark building,” says the handwritten note at the top of the picture. Piles of spars are seen in the center foreground.
Advertisement in the 1885 guide and directory, Chequocket; or, Coatuit; The Aboriginal Name of Provincetown. From the MacMillan Collection on the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 364. The Railroad and Central Wharves were better known landmarks than Manta’s and Dyer’s.
Standish’s shipyard is not labeled, but you can see the open space on the shoreline between Rich’s (or Dyer’s) Wharf at the bottom and Manta’s Wharf at the top. The blue building on Standish’s lot is identified, “Boat Builder.” This is a detail of Plate 4 in the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map From Provincetown, Barnstable County, Massachusetts (1889), at the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. Digital ID g3764pm.g038261889.
¶ Last updated on 11 December 2020.
Also at 175 Commercial Street:
• Anchor Inn Beach House | Former Anchor & Ark Club | Former A. C. Lombard house.
Thumbnail image: Posted by Salvador R. Vasques III to the My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection page on Facebook, 7 August 2016.
• George Washington Standish (1827-1905)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 120345714.