500 Commercial Street

500 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

500 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

Mary Martin Schaeffer and Frank Schaeffer.

Mary Martin Schaeffer and Frank Schaeffer.

Behind that yellow door is the White Horse Inn, which borrows its name from the Greenwich Village tavern of Bohemian fame. The White Horse Tavern was a favorite of Frank Schaefer, a German immigrant, “a patron of artists, a fine photographer and a man of immaculate taste,” as Philip Hoare eulogized him in The Independent in 2007. Schaefer was also a friend of the artist Jackson Lambert, who brought him to town in 1962. A year later, Schaefer bought No. 500. He and Lambert set about creating a hostelry that his wife, Mary Martin Schaefer, likened to the world’s largest Joseph Cornell box. In a stellar cast of transients — Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Grace Paley, and Gore Vidal — one of the more constant has been the director John Waters. The guest house continues under Mary’s good care.


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.

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