Fishermen’s Wharf is the oldest of the big three piers, constructed in 1917-1918 by S. Sklaroff & Sons of Philadelphia, specialists in smoked fish. Sklaroff’s Wharf stretched 1,380 feet. At the end was a two-story pier shed used to clean and pack fish. Midway was a storehouse. In 1936, the wharf was renamed Monument Dock when it became the terminus for Steel Pier, a Boston ferry. (The pier aligns almost perfectly with the Pilgrim Monument.) The Sklaroffs sold the wharf in 1943. It was purchased in 1955 by the Monument Fish Company, headed by Anthony Silva, Edward Salvador, and Lawrence Taves. The storehouse blew away in a 1960 blizzard and the pier shed was gutted in a 1962 fire. The ruined wharf was purchased by Robert Cabral. He rebuilt it as a 1,025-foot pier; added the Provincetown Marina facilities, which he designed; and called it Fishermen’s Wharf. The height and sharp angles of the dock master’s office were meant to draw the attention of yacht captains arriving in the harbor, said John E. Ciluzzi Jr., whose brokerage represents Cabral Enterprises.
The future of the pier was source of friction between Cabral, who wanted to use it as a parking lot, and town officials, who worried about environmental harm. A 260-foot-long bone of contention, from 2002 to 2008, was Provincia, tied up at the wharf. Robert and his son Vaughn bought her with plans to open a waterfront outlet of Clem & Ursie’s. But the vessel was trapped in jurisdictional and regulatory limbo. In the end, the Cabrals sold her. Since 1997, they have been trying to sell the pier, too. In 1995, Nils “Pepe” Berg opened the Dancing Lobster restaurant on the pier. It was succeeded by Townsend Lobster and Seafood Market and 9 Ryder Seaside Dining, which Fred Hemley and Francis Iacono opened in 2012.
Stalwart throughout, five Portuguese women —”their strength and courage easily matching and supporting that of their male seafaring counterparts” — have overlooked the harbor from enormous murals in They Also Faced the Sea, an installation by the photographer Norma Holt and the artist and gallerist Ewa Nogiec, supported by Richard di Frummolo, among others. Almeda Segura was at the end of the pier shed. The faces visible in the picture above belong, from the left, to Eva Mae Silva, of 8 Brown; Mary (Hopwood) Jason, of 27 Conwell; Beatrice (Palheiro) Cabral, of 10 Law; and Frances (Perry) Raymond, of 18 Pleasant. Mrs. Cabral was a matron at the Herring Cove Beach Bathhouse and in Town Hall, and a chambermaid at the Provincetown Inn. Her trademark greeting was, “Hello, darling.” She seems to be saying it even now.
More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.