Former St. Anne’s Convent
The hills may or may not be alive with the sound of music, but 20 Court Street was once a Roman Catholic convent, housing the sisters of the Love of God (Mother Cecilia is pictured at left). This was not so very long ago, beginning in the early 1960s during the pastorate of the Rev. Leo J. Duart at the Church of St. Peter the Apostle, 11 Prince Street. The house was originally constructed around 1850. In the 1950s, it was the home of Frank A. Days Jr. (±1877-1961) and his wife, Anna Aurelia (Swett) Days (±1877-1957). Days had run F. A. Days & Company, founded by his father, who built the lumberyard on Pearl Street that became the nucleus of the Fine Arts Work Center. (Their daughter, born Anna, had been called into religious service as Sister Mary Leander.)
Not long after Mrs. Days died, in 1957, her husband gave their house to the parish of St. Peter for use as a convent by Father Duart, who was taking the first steps toward establishing a parochial school. Before building the school, Father Duart needed nuns to staff it. And before he could recruit the nuns, he needed a place to house them. Days obliged with this property. The sun porch, shown in the photo below, was converted into a small chapel.
Fidel Castro helped provide the nuns by confiscating the property of the Order of the Love of God. Sisters Cecilia, Carmen, Gloria and Florentina, exiled from Cuba, arrived in Provincetown in 1961. They hastened to take English lessons so they could begin teaching kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classes. The school itself opened in 1967 at 5 Holway Avenue. The moment represented in some ways the apogee of the Portuguese-Catholic establishment in Provincetown. Unfortunately, Father Duart — however boldly — was fighting two longterm trends: the cost of education was escalating while the Portuguese population was diminishing. St. Peter’s school closed in 1971, only four years after opening. The building was leased for use as a public school. (It is now the Hiebert Marine Laboratory of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.)
The nuns returned to New Bedford and then moved out to California.
In the 1980s, 20 Court Street was home to Pamela Genevrino (b 1948) and her partner Linda Gerard (b 1938), the proprietors of the Pied Piper, 193A Commercial Street, who presumably knew how to solve a problem like Maria. It is now a three-unit condominium. • Historic District Survey (1) • Historic District Survey (2) • Assessor’s Online Database, Unit 1 • Assessor’s Online Database, Unit 2 • Assessor’s Online Database, Unit 3 ¶ Posted 2012-11-29