An almost urban density gives downtown a lot of its character. But few houses look as jammed into a lot as 5 Pearl, only inches away from 378 Commercial. It was home to Dr. Ella Freeman (Kendrick) Birge and her husband, Dr. William Spafard Birge, who ran the Ocean View Sanatorium, which became the Somerset House. Their granddaughter, Amy Spafard Birge, married the artist Bruce McKain, one in a Provincetown triumvirate of graduates of the Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, with Philip Malicoat and George Yater. She directed Provincetown’s public welfare program until it was taken over by the state. He died in 1990, she 10 years later.
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.