247 Commercial Street

Crown & Anchor

On a summer’s night, the Crown & Anchor can’t be missed. In fact, it can’t be ignored. Not only is it one of P-town’s most prominent facades, with its grand columned portico and tower, but performers from the Cabaret — usually in drag — boisterously regale passers-by. The hotel business is a sideline; this is the town’s “largest entertainment complex,” true to its roots in the mid-19th century, when Timothy P. Johnson built the Central House (its first name) as a public hall for shows and entertainment, a bowling alley and — quite as important — a saloon.

Allen Reed purchased the Central from Johnson’s heirs in 1868, enlarged it, added sleeping rooms and attached a bowling alley, so that the Central was the largest hotel in town, extending over the water on pilings. Reed was succeeded in 1881 by his son, James A. Reed, the town customs officer, who conducted business “from a room fitted in the building for that purpose.”

The Central’s charms were described as follows in the late 19th century:

This house has accommodations for about 75 guests, has a fine billiard and pool-room attached, ladies’ parlor and sitting-room, gents’ reading and smoking-room, fronts the principal street of the town, while from the veranda at the rear a fine view of the harbor and its shipping can be obtained; the facilities for bathing are also good.

It was the Sea Horse Inn in the ’50s. Staniford Sorrentino reopened it as the Crown & Anchor Motor Inn in 1962, when Bobby Short played a two-week gig.

Much of the building was lost in February 1998 to one of the worst fires in town history, which began next door at the old Whaler’s Wharf. Fortunately, no lives were lost that night. The Crown was rebuilt in 1999.

The elements of the complex in 2008 were: the Crown & Anchor Inn, with 18 guest rooms; the Central House restaurant; the Crown Cabaret; the Paramount Nightclub; the Vault, a leather bar; and Wave, “P’town’s first video bar.”























4 thoughts on “247 Commercial Street

  1. The Seahorse Inn was owned by “Pat” Patrick of the Flagship Restaurant and various other properties. His son Bob Patrick is the owner of Marine Specialties. You may find other interesting info from him as well.

  2. Wonderful site but you barely mentioned the 70’s and 80’s. During Stan’s reign- Disco! Plays onstage! As the theaer page I would think they would mention this”’?

    • I was hired as the pool boy by Stan – he wanted me to work wearing a Speedo. I was a shy kid, but as a year round resident I needed 3 jobs to remain in town.

      I used to line up all the lounge chairs, clean the pool and stock the bars.

      Part of stocking the bars included lifting the wooden floor mats to sweep under them – that was where I struck gold. The floor was always covered with loose change and I could always count on 50 to 60 dollars extra. This was testimony to the frenzied activity from the night before. The bartenders could not open the beer bottles fast enough as tips were hurled across the bar.

      I also got free admission to all of the shows – some of them were legendary. Wayland Flowers to name one.

      Life in town was a beautiful melding of the most colorful, creative, beautiful, originators of most ‘new age’ thought, music and art. All of this was energized by the salt air, the natural landscape and the vortex which forms the infinite soul of Provincetown.

  3. I worked for Gary Flannery and Kenneth Lemon at the C&A from 93-96, starting at Flannery’s Restaurant, working with Tish (cook), Billie Jean(server), and Big Lil(host/cashier) of ‘Illusions’ before working every bar in the place thereafter. Even painted rooms and hallways before the fire. I miss those times, though AIDS brought daily tears to us all back then.

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