The Pilgrim House opened around 1810. It was run by the Giffords of the Gifford House, and counted Henry David Thoreau among its guests. Not a very satisfied guest, as his 1857 journal makes clear: “I have spent four memorable nights there in as many different years, and have added considerable thereby to my knowledge of the natural history of the cat and the bedbug. Sleep was out of the question. … At still midnight, when, half awake, half asleep, you seem to be weltering in your own blood on a battlefield, you hear the stealthy tread of padded feet belonging to some animal of the cat tribe, perambulating the roof within a few inches of your head.” A century later, the hotel housed the Sea Dragon Club and the Madeira Club, where the young Lily Tomlin performed and, it is rumored, Barbra Streisand hung out hoping for a gig. A four-alarm fire in 1990 destroyed the hotel.
Its owner, Donald Ray Edwards, of the Governor Bradford, rebuilt it and added the Vixen nightclub, a popular women’s bar managed by Shawn Nightingale. Diane DiCarlo and Jeanne Leszczynski bought the property in 2011 and transformed it into the Sage Inn & Lounge. It’s worth strolling down the alleyway, where the front yard used to be, to see a trompe-l’oeil mural peopled by Amelia Earhart, Maya Angelou, and Gertrude Stein. Tenants include B.Exclusive clothing, Mail Spot Express, Piercings by the Bearded Lady, and Muir Music, owned until 2015 by Nancy Muir Yeaw (pictured), whose intelligent offerings were truly curated. She gave me a welcome lesson in Fado 101.
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.