Captain Lysander Condominium (Unit 1).
Colossal corner pilasters mark this robust, yet refined, Greek Revival home at 96 Commercial Street, which was built in the early 1850s and has served in recent years as a 25-room guest house, Captain Lysander Inn. Its name came from its builder, Captain Lysander Paine, a partner in the fishing concern of J. & L. N. Paine, whose wharf was nearby. (The proprietors probably imagined that a guest house called Captain Paine would be tougher to market.) By far the most nationally significant resident of this house was Edith Linwood Bush (1882-1977), Paine’s granddaughter, who moved here in 1952 after retiring as the dean of the Jackson College for Women at Tufts University.
She had been the principal of Provincetown High School for two years before returning to Tufts in 1920, where she was made a full professor of mathematics five years later, the same year as her appointment to head the women’s division. Bush was the first woman professor to teach in the College of Engineering at Tufts. The president of Tufts said at her retirement that “her concept of a coordinate college was that of an institution which combined the special advantages of a separate college for women and of the more traditional coeducational college” and that under her administration “all of the academic resources including the use of all scientific laboratories and libraries at Tufts College have been made available to Jackson College students.” Bush Hall, a dormitory at Tufts, was named in her honor in 1959.
Her brother, Vannevar Bush (1890-1974), now described as a progenitor of the Internet, has also been called a father of the atomic bomb and as a pioneer in computing science. What’s remarkable is that all three are accurate. For the purposes of our story, he also spend a good deal of time in Provincetown. A Tuft alumnus, like many in his family, Bush cofounded what was to become the Raytheon Manufacturing Company, developed a differential analyzer, headed the National Defense Research Commitee in World War II, and served as chairman of the Carnegie Institution, M.I.T., and Merck & Company. His role in the development of nuclear fission and of the atomic bomb was heralded in The Advocate on 9 August 1945, after the destruction of Hiroshima, under the headline “Cape End Plays Its Part in Bomb.”
To trace the family steps back to the builder: Capt. Lysander N. Paine (1831-1918), son of Joshua and Nancy Paine, was a Provincetown native. His brother Joshua was one of the original partners in what became J. & L. N. Paine’s Wharf, constructed in 1853. Lysander was admitted to the partnership in 1865, when the company took the name under which it was best known. In 1874, Lysander became president of the Seamen’s Savings Bank. He had one child, Emma Linwood Paine (1860-1947), who married a Universalist minister, the Rev. R. Perry Bush (d 1926). Edith and Vannevar were their children.
The Bush family sold the property in 1981 for $150,000 to Jack Seidner, Frank McKenna, and Peter Lerta. That same year, Seidner opened the property as the Bywater Guest House, with 13 guest rooms. He and McKenna sold 96 Commercial the next year to Charles I. Edwards of Plymouth. He and Madeline M. Edwards incorporated the Captain Lysander Inn in 1984. Officers of the corporation included Jeanne Doherty and Sarah Norfleet, who were instrumental in running the inn. The property was sold in 2003 to Timothy Harrington of Miami Beach, and the Captain Lysander Inn company was formally dissolved two years later. Harrington converted the property into a four-unit condo in 2003. The owners of the main house, Unit 1, since 2007 are residents of Milton.
For a view of Unit 2, please see 96 Commercial Street.
For a view of Unit 3, please see 96 Commercial Street.
For a view of Unit 4, please see 96 Commercial Street.
¶ Last updated on 11 September 2018.