Adams (Formerly Adams Pharmacy)
You can’t get a prescription filled here any longer, but it will be years before they stop calling Adams a pharmacy, since that’s what it was from 1875 until 2009, when the prescription service was sold to Stop & Shop. Adams describes itself as the “oldest business in continuous operation at one location in Provincetown” and it remains a nexus of civic life of city life, as it has long been; home to the town’s first telephone switchboard in the early 1900s and, until 2003, to an old-fashioned soda fountain. Paradoxically, the soda fountain was taken out by Vincent Duarte, the current owner of Adams, to safeguard the privacy of pharmacy clients — but now there aren’t any clients and there isn’t any soda fountain.
The main building was constructed around 1850 with Greek Revival details. The business was established by Dr. John M. Crocker (1845-1917). Crocker, who was also the first publisher of The Provincetown Advocate, was living here when the paper was begun in 1869. The streetfront retail space was added at least a century ago in the front yard of the house.
John D. Adams succeeded Dr. Crocker and gave his name to the business in 1875. The Norman Cook family, related to the Adams family, succeeded them. Duarte bought the property from the Cooks in 1989.
Though Adams is no longer a pharmacy, Nancy Whorf’s delightful mural map has survived — thankfully — to show us the town when Adams was in its heyday, including the Aquarium (now a mall), Tillie’s Beach, the old A&P and the Manor nursing home, the artist Peter Hunt’s shop and the Provincetown Playhouse on the Wharf.
Like the buildings themselves, street numbers in Provincetown tend to move around with unnerving frequency, so you’re very likely to find many references to Adams at 254 Commercial Street, rather than 252. Rest assured, it’s the same place.