47 Pleasant Street

47 Pleasant Street, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap. 
47 Pleasant Street, Provincetown (2013), by David W. Dunlap.47 Pleasant Street Condominium

Two eras of town history, both now seeming almost equally remote, are embodied in this odd-looking mashup. The south half of the hybrid, pictured above, is a classic three-quarter Cape. It is believed to have stood originally at the east end of the Long Point settlement, where it served as the home of one Jonathan Smith, whose storehouse was not far away. Like the other buildings on the point, it was floated over to Provincetown in the mid-19th century, after which it was grafted on to a two-story house on Pleasant Street.

"A map of the extremity of Cape Cod including the townships of Provincetown & Truro: with chart of their sea coast and of Cape Cod Harbour, State of Massachusetts," by J. D. Duncan (1835). Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.The map section shown at left comes from J. D. Duncan’s minutely detailed Map of the Extremity of Cape Cod Including the Townships of Provincetown & Truro in the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. I’ve superimposed upon it a rough location for the Jonathan Smith house when it was on Long Point, based on the map Long Point Provincetown and Location of Its Inhabitants in About 1857 from The Provincetown Book by Nancy W. Paine Smith (1922). The map in Smith’s book is utterly beguiling, though whether it’s a work of forensic archaeology or nostalgic reminiscence is another question entirely. [Correction: The superimposed map legend should read “Jonathan Smith’s house,” not “Joseph Smith’s house.” And it will — some day. Thanks to the ever-observant Denise Avallon.]

"Provincetown, Mass.," by George H. Walker (1910). Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.The 1880 atlas shows a large undivided tract of land between Pleasant Street and the Winthrop Street cemetery. So does the bird’s-eye view at right, from George H. Walker’s Provincetown, Mass. of 1910, also in the Leventhal center. What makes this so significant is that No. 47 served as the homestead of the Pleasant View Farm, a dairy farm operated by Joseph King (b ±1845) and his wife, Rita (Gaspa) King (b ±1862), both Portuguese immigrants, and then by their son, John I. King (±1884-1960), and his wife, Mary (Souza) King (±1905-1985).

A whole book — admittedly one for a very small and discerning audience — could be written about Provincetown’s homegrown dairy industry. Of course, it would make sense that in the days before mechanical refrigeration an outpost as remote as the Cape tip would need a high concentration of dairy farms. Pleasant View was one of several, the most famous being Galeforce, remnants of which still exist in the West End. John King was said by The Provincetown Advocate to have “owned some fine herds of blooded stock” — or purebreds. On several occasions in the 1910s, milk from his farm won prizes for its cleanliness at agricultural affairs. In the middle of World War I, King apologized to his customers for having to raise the price of milk to 14 cents a quart, owing to hay and grain having nearly trebled in price.

47 Pleasant Street, Provincetown (1976), by Josephine Del Deo. Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory, 1973-1977: Provincetown's West End. Courtesy of the Provincetown Public Library. 

King got out of the farming business in 1924 and sold much of his land to Walter Welsh. He later served as custodian of the Governor Bradford School, then entered town politics in 1944, winning election as a selectman, as the town assessor and as a member of the Board of Public Welfare. The Kings’ daughter, Dorothy (King) Lafalce (b 1924), and her husband, Theodore Lafalce (b 1922), lived here through the 1990s and are still in the neighborhood. This property is now a three-unit condo. • MapAssessor’s Online Database, Unit 1 • Assessor’s Online Database, Unit 2 • Assessor’s Online Database, Unit 3 ¶ Updated 2013-07-23

2 thoughts on “47 Pleasant Street

  1. As I love your blog and only wish you could write about every building in Provincetown, it was fun to see our house illustrated.

    My husband Cary and I own Unit 1, the three-quarter Cape side, and adore the house and the neighborhood. We have opened up the inside and added a small rear addition to make it livable year round. While we know it’s a floater, your added historical context is wonderful. It sure is a charmer and does exemplify past and present.

    I speak for many of your readers and fans who wish you could be here full time so that we could see and hear more of your wonderful insights on a daily basis.

    • Jon, it is comments like this that help keep me going when the clock reads 2 a.m. and I feel as if I cannot possibly write another word about another three-quarter Cape. I really appreciate your generosity and support.

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