313-315A Commercial Street

 
Former Post Office | Equipped | Cape Cod Times Provincetown Bureau | Lily Pond | Coffee Pot | Red Shack | Surf Club Restaurant and Bar

Together with No. 309, flanking Lopes Square, these buildings serves as a kind of gateway for the many thousands who arrive aboard the Boston boats. The Coffee Pot is a popular local hang-out and the Surf Club, until recently, held on to a rough-and-tumble, old-Provincetown patronage, many of whom came to hear the Provincetown Jug & Marching Band. The Surf Club formed an anti-gentry triumvirate with the Old Colony Tap, also owned by the Enos family, and the Governor Bradford. (In these joints, you’d never hear the word “triumvirate.”)

Older residents will also recall No. 315 as the downtown market of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company before the construction of the town’s first supermarket in 1958. They may have even had a tooth filled, or pulled, here.

In the 1880s, this was the preëminently logical site of the Post Office, at a juncture where ship, rail, vehicular and pedestrian traffic all intersected. On the 1882 Bird’s Eye View of the Town of Provincetown, shown above with colors added, the Post Office is No. 10. Based on its appearance in this admittedly sketchy form, I’m proceeding on the assumption that the current structure is a direct descendant — if greatly renovated — of the 19th-century Post Office. The site was then “a bowling alley frequented by lusty seafaring young-bloods, and then a general store patronized by the prim, bonneted housewives of crusty skippers who navigated the seven seas on the hunt for leviathan,” according to a newspaper account of the A&P opening. (“Colonial Design Followed in New A&P Building,” 1935.) To judge from one of the photos in the picture gallery below, it was also a billiard hall.

When the A&P opened downtown in 1935, great emphasis was placed on its Colonial Revival design. One newspaper described it as the “first real achievement in the current movement to restore the town’s architecture to the old charm and simplicity that ruled here in the palmy days of whaling ships, Grand Bankers and West Indies packets.” (At the moment, the scrapbook clipping is unidentified. It carries a Provincetown dateline, suggesting strongly that it’s not from The Advocate.)

The approbation of Richard E. Miller, “dean of the Provincetown art colony” and leader of the conservative movement within the Provincetown Art Association was quoted at great length. He was especially grateful that the enormous chain had avoided building its standard red-front store.

The A&P Company is to be complimented and given thanks for turning out a building that is in keeping with the old architecture of the town. For a long time the artists here have been agitating among townsfolk not to change the true character of this distinctive environment. It has not only aesthetic value, but it is tremendously important in building up the local tourist business.

People from all over the United States come here to see a typical New England fishing village. The more we can hold to that character the more attractive Provincetown will be to summer visitors. We can applaud A&P for its efforts toward making this character permanent. …

I think there is reason now to conclude that Provincetown is at last becoming art-conscious. And we can thank A&P for showing the way.

“Weather-bitten veterans of the Provincetown fishing fleet” were consulted by the newspaper on the accuracy of the schooner silhouettes painted on the awnings and replied that they were “correct in every detail.” The big multipane windows were made of stainless steel and were double hung. They could be opened so that customers could be served on the exterior of the store.

This A&P lasted almost a quarter of a century before being replaced by a true supermarket at 32 Conwell Street, managed by Wilfred Rogers, who had been the manager here. One of the longest tenants of the building was the dentist Dr. John D. McCurtain, who saw patients here in the 1950s and 1960s. Hopkins Cleansers occupied the space over the A&P in the late 1940s.

There are references to the Surf Club at this address, under the proprietorship of Herman Janard, at least as early as 1958, meaning that the bar and restaurant have been around more than a half century. Janard — whom an Advocate columnist dubbed the “Cottage, Cabbage and Cocktail King” in 1956 — was a partner of Leonard Edward “Lenny Blue” Enos Sr. in the J. & E. Fruit and Produce Company, the Old Colony Tap and the Surf Club. Enos’s wife, who was also involved in the management of these establishments, was Lucia Santina (Bocanfuso) Enos (d 2007), whose parents had come from Ischia, Italy. Their son Leonard “Lenny” Enos Jr. still runs the Surf Club. (“Lucia S. Enos, Longtime Proprietor of Old Colony Tap, Surf Club,” The Banner, 4 October 2007.)

As a club, its best-known attraction from 1972 to 1990 was its house band, the Provincetown Jug & Marching Band, founded by Eugene “Geno” Haggerty (±1938-2002) and the other jug musicians in the Rumpus Room behind the Old Colony in the 1960s. Haggerty played the trombone, the washboard and, of course, the jug. (“Eugene ‘Geno’ Haggerty, 64,” The Banner, 4 April 2002.)

Other commercial tenants over time have included:

• Caramel Corner and Body Body (296 Commercial Street), where the A&P was and where Equipped is now;

• Astronaut Bar-B-Que & Sandwich Shop and La Boutique, in what was the back half of the A&P and is now Lily Pond;

• Center Barber Shop, where Red Shack is now;

• Hideaway Club, where the Surf Club is now;

• Starving Artists’ Studio at No. 313A in the early 1960s, a portrait studio whose artists included Franklin “Frank” Milby (b 1933);

• Casa Cafe, in the early 1960s; and

• Loco Lindsays, Pronto Restaurant and Zareh Leather.

¶ Updated 2013-03-13


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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