609-611 Commercial Street

 
Two distinct houses now share a common tax lot under the ownership of Dr. Elia A. Sinaiko, a retired psychologist; the author of a children’s book, The Emperor of Rain; and a son of the artists Avrom “Arlie” Sinaiko (1902-1984) and Suzanne Sinaiko (1918-1998), who figure large in this part of town. No. 611 is the more interesting of the two. Elia’s brother Jonathan tells Building Provincetown in a comment that this structure once stood near his father’s property at 597 Commercial. In 1959, The Advocate described the Sinaikos moving a small beachfront building, originally constructed as a children’s playhouse, about 300 feet to the east — roughly right here.

It was enlarged and given a modern facade. Sinaiko said he had also heard the rumor that Bette Davis played (or play-acted) in this building in her youth. In the front yard of the house, which Dr. Sinaiko rents as an “historic beachfront cottage,” stands Flight, one of Arlie Sinaiko’s sculptures.

The western building on the lot, No. 609, carries the name Day Spring. In the 1950s, it served as both a classroom and as a gallery for the artists Boris Margo (1902-1995) and Jan Gelb (1906-1979), known as the Boris Margo Art Seminar and as the Artists’ Gallery. Margo and Gelb had a great studio at 56 Atkins-Mayo Road, which survives and is still in family hands; and a dune shack that still bears their name. The artist Umberto Romano (1905-1982) also used this is a summer school in 1960, after he stepped down from the Romano Summer School in East Gloucester, Mass.


 

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