597 Commercial Street

597 Waterfront Apartments

Apartments? Plural? At first glance, No. 597 looks like a cozy bungalow, far too small to be a multi-unit accommodation. But the waterside view tells a different story. It is, in fact, a good-sized building. And the wonderful border collie on the signpost tells part of the story. It’s my guess that the dog in question is Bandit, beloved of John A. Lisbon (1949-2011), a contractor who lived here with his wife, Linda S. Lisbon. John’s father, Joseph Lisbon, was a fisherman who skippered the Francis Elizabeth in the mid-1950s. Linda Lisbon continues to own and run the apartments.

She bought the property in 1992 from the family of the sculptor Avrom “Arlie” Sinaiko (1902-1984), which had owned it since 1951. In the 1930s, there was a nightclub on the property known as the Provincetown Beach Club, and then the Provincetown Beach Terrace. (In 1937, the business moved to 383A Commercial, what is now the Bull Ring Wharf.) The Beach Terrace was run by Erik Huneker and Maida Huneker, husband and wife, and Joseph Lazarovici. The three had collaborated in the making of a 1932 movie, The Founding of Provincetown, which was described as a comedy. In what was apparently something of a triangle — families come in all shapes and sizes — the other shoe dropped in 1946 when Maida divorced Erik and married Joseph.

The Beach Terrace was a one-story, one-room building on the property, with a porch, verandah and kitchen. Could that possibly have corresponded with what The Advocate described as a former children’s playhouse that also stood on the property until 1959? Amateur dramatic productions had been presented there, the newspaper noted, that might even have involved the very young Bette Davis. The Sinaikos had the structure moved because it cut off views from the main house. It was hauled about 300 feet east, The Advocate said, a location corresponds roughly with 609-611 Commercial.

[Updated 2012-07-6]

2 thoughts on “597 Commercial Street

  1. The playhouse was at 595 Commercial Street; in front, on the water, actually over the water and it was moved and enlarged and now resides at 611 Commercial Street. Rumor has it that Bette Davis used to play there. Mrs. Mayo, deceased, remembered sailing with Bette Davis when they were teenagers.

  2. My grandfather (a friend of Arlie & Suzanne Sinaiko) & grandmother rented the bottom floor apartment at 595 Commercial St. from Arlie Sinaiko for the month of August for many years in the 1950s and 1960s (they were in P-town every summer from 1936-68 or so). It’s one of my earliest memories (from mid-late 1950s-on).

    There was also a large room out the back door with its own entrance that we called “the bunkhouse” (where the kids slept)…

    We used to jump off the large bulkhead that supported the moved house when the tide came in and under the bulkhead. I remember Arlie & Suzanne (and Pumper) very well and think of them every Sept. when we are back in Truro/P-town.

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