8 Cottage Street

 
Former Oxford Guesthouse

In lodging service for at least eight decades, 8 Cottage was built between 1850 and 1870. From the 1930s through the 1950s, it was run by Ellen M. Rosa as the Paul Revere Lodge. As such it was a center of Portuguese life, as Mrs. Rosa was the chairwoman of the Ladies’ Council of the Portuguese-American Civic League and would turn the lodge over to entertaining and whist parties. There were also some soon-to-be-famous guests at the Paul Revere; among them, in 1934, a young actor named Garson Kanin. He would go on to direct The Diary of Anne Frank and Funny Girl, write Born Yesterday and with his wife, Ruth Gordon, write Adam’s Rib and Pat and Mike.

Mrs. Rosa ran an understated ad campaign: “You Will Find Comfortable Rooms at Paul Revere Lodge” — and seems to have confused Thorvald with Oswald. (Perhaps she was thinking of the lucky rabbit and not the unlucky Viking.)

The family of David A. Browne (±1902-1960) and Mary (Rose) Browne owned the house from the 1950s through 1998. Browne was the custodian at the First National Bank and was credited in 1950 with discovering a fire in the basement of the brand-new bank building at 170 Commercial Street that might have destroyed it before its first day of business. Their daughter, Lucinda G. Browne, operated 8 Cottage Street as an accommodation called the Iva-Tel Guest House.

Stephen G. Mascilo (b ±1948) and Trevor G. Pinker (b ±1950) bought the Iva-Tel in 1998 and rechristened it the Oxford. That was where the two Englishmen met in 1974 when Pinker was earning a doctorate in organic chemistry and Mascilo was staying at a hotel in town where Pinker’s boyfriend was working. That was where they met. “The next day they became a couple,” Emily C. Dooley wrote in a Cape Cod Times profile on 28 May 2004, when the two were getting married after 30 years together.

In Boston on holiday in 1982, they picked Provincetown as a destination by a coin toss and arrived at the Hornblower guest house, 12 Winthrop Street. You know the rest of the story. A few years later, they decided to step away from professional lives that kept them apart for much of the time; Pinker as a general practitioner, Mascilo as personnel manager of the London Hilton. They first bought the Hornblower, which they renamed the Beaconlight, and then the Iva-Tel. They held their wedding at the Oxford.

A “refined English-style B&B,” Kim Grant wrote in the 2003 Explorer’s Guide. She cited the inviting decks and gardens and a “lovely living room, furnished with plump sofas and a fireplace. The seven rooms, she said, had central air-conditioning, a television, a VCR and a CD player, robes and — that rarity in Provincetown — a telephone. She also noted, discreetly, that the Oxford was “primarily a men’s guesthouse.”

Pinker and Mascilo closed the Oxford in September 2010 and turned their attention to Pink Choice, a Web site with information for gay and lesbian travelers. The purchasers were Robert D. Speiser, an attorney who now serves on the Provincetown Cultural Council, and Anthony Brackett. The re-conversion of 8 Cottage Street into a single-family home in 2011 occasioned a debate among town officials over the role of the zoning bylaw in regulating such change. “We’re losing so many guest rooms,” Anne Howard, the chairwoman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said at the time. “We don’t want to lose any more.” (Pru Sowers, “Provincetown Guesthouse Conversion Worries Zoning Board, The Banner/Wicked Local, 12 January 2011.)

Historic District SurveyAssessor’s Online Database ¶ Posted 2012-11-24

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