The 600-seat Provincetown Theatre opened in 1919 and was run by Victor Lewis of the New York Store. In 1973, Dale Elmer combined it with the Handcrafter next door to create Whaler’s Wharf, an artisans’ collective and craft market. Elmer gave tenants a chance by renting space “for next to nothing,” recalled Jill Turner Odice, who managed the Handcrafter. They included Christie Andresen, Taqwa Glassworks; Richard Cuencas, R. C. Handcrafted Jewelry; Cynthia Gast, Shell Shop; Myra Gold, MG Leather; James Green, Picture Yourself Portraits; Craig Littlewood, ivory carver; Jan McPherson, painter on wood; Lorraine Najar, Lorraine’s Too; Christopher Pearson, Pearson Studio; and Eddie Smith, Driftwood Originals. The balcony was partitioned off to create a cinema, The Movies, run by Monte Rome, Dennis Dermody, and Bruce Goldstein.
The whole complex, and much of the Crown & Anchor, were destroyed by fire in 1998. David Bragdon, who was on watch that night, later killed himself in distress. “The old Provincetown died that night,” Odice said. The Whalers Wharf of 2000 was developed by Paul deRuyter and Bruce MacGregor, and designed by Regina Binder of Binder Boland Associates as a festival marketplace. The facade evokes the original arch, whose shattered remnants can be seen on the beach out back. The 70-seat Whalers Wharf Cinema was purchased in 2011 by the Provincetown Film Society and renamed Waters Edge Cinema. Other tenants include Ross’ Grill (Kenneth Ross, now César Gerena), the Nut House, and Christof’s Fine Jewelry.
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.