This beautifully situated and relatively intact full Cape was constructed in the early 19th century. “Located well away from the waterfront, this property likely served as a small farmstead,” Tom Boland wrote in the Historic District Survey. At the turn of the 20th century, Boland noted, the house belonged to George O. Knowles, namesake of the wharf at 381-383 Commercial Street, at the foot of Pearl Street. What has almost undoubtedly accounted for its fine state of preservation since then is its ownership by a single family, the Bakers, since 1926.
Benjamin Alton Baker (±1872-1952) was born in Wellfleet but spent most of his life in Provincetown, where he worked as an agent for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railfoad and also, in the 1940s, as custodian of the Pilgrim Monument. His wife, Madge (MacDonald) Baker (d 1950), had been born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her sister Wilhelmina (d 1948) was also a Provincetown resident, married to John Bert Bangs. The Bakers had a son, Edward M. Baker, to whom they transferred the property in 1945. He was married to Alice B. Baker. They lived in New York City and in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
It was in New York City that their son, Robert A. “Bob” Baker (1939-2007), was born. After spending many summers in Provincetown, Bob became a permanent resident in 1960 and opened a store called Bob Baker: Furniture Maker. (“Bob Baker, 68,” The Provincetown Banner, 10 May 2007.) His skills in cabinetry and as a carpenter were sometimes put to much larger service than furniture. Baker was among those who helped Napi Van Dereck build Napi’s Restaurant, 7 Freeman Street, in the 1970s. “When I started to build the restaurant, he came on board and helped me do a lot of work on the building,” Van Dereck said. “He was a master craftsman, tremendously good at what he did. He was a ‘harumpher’; some called him a curmudgeon, and he had very strong opinions. He had an attitude that sort of got in the way sometimes, but there was no question about it — he was a master at what he did.” (“Bob Baker: A Master Craftsman Remembered in Provincetown,” The Cape Codder, 11 May 2007, through Find a Grave.)
Thirty-four Pearl Street is now owned by the fourth generation of Bakers, Bob’s children: Andus D. Baker and Saphira M. Baker. • Historic District Survey, main house • Historic District Survey, workshop • Historic District Survey, shed • Assessor’s Online Database ¶ Posted 2013-06-13