In continuous operation for 75 years at the time of its closing in 1965, the Mayflower Gift Shop was perhaps the longest-lived gift shop in Provincetown history. The shop was opened in 1890 by Irving L. Rosenthal, whose father, Sgt. John Rosenthal, had been in charge of the Long Point Batteries (better known to posterity as Forts Useless and Ridiculous). Irving’s son John F. “Jack” Rosenthal took over the shop. In 1938, the younger Rosenthal modernized the front of the building and rehabilitated it a second time after World War II. During the war, he headed the Provincetown Civilian Defense program. On 15 June 1942, Rosenthal supervised the reception and care for 42 survivors from vessels that had been torpedoed off the coast. (“Chosen to Head Relief Committee,” The Advocate, 27 July 1944.)
By 1949, Rosenthal’s little retail empire — doing business collectively as the Mayflower Gift Shops — included the Corner Gift Shop at 250 Commercial Street and the Provincetown Inn Gift Shop at 1 Commercial Street. At the time Rosenthal closed the Mayflower, he was also running the Candle Shop and the Monument Shop.
A successor tenant placed this intriguing ad in 1967: “Girls wanted to work in Antoinette’s Candy Shop, 317 Commercial Street. Also Young Men.”