554 Commercial Street

554 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

554 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

No. 554 looks as if a head of government might be housed there. In a way, he was. Robert Welsh, judge of the Second District Court of Barnstable County from 1933 to 1973, bought this Colonial Revival-style house in 1936. His father, Walter, the namesake of the Knights of Columbus council, had been the district judge beginning in 1914. Robert succeeded him at a time when district court still convened in Provincetown. Welsh presided over the obscenity trial of William Ward for printing and selling a short story by Hubert Selby Jr., in the Provincetown Review, that became the basis of Last Exit to Brooklyn. Despite the testimony of Stanley Kunitz, Norman Podhoretz, and Jason Epstein, Welsh fined Ward $1,000. His son, Robert Jr., served on the bench from 1973 to 2008.

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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