337 Commercial Street

 
Lands End Marine Supplies

Lands End has so much stuff, and so many different kinds of stuff, that it’s tempting sometimes to wonder: if you can’t find it at Lands End, do you really need it? Joseph E. Macara (±1905-2000) first hung out the Lands End shingle in 1940 at 303 Commercial Street (now the Post Office Café & Cabaret), but constructed this store almost as soon as World War II ended. It opened in September 1946 and the main facade on Commercial Street is remarkably unchanged, though the building itself has grown to gargantuan proportions (at least by Provincetown standards). The Advocate credited the original design to Macara; his wife, Helen (Thomas) Macara (d 1999); and the builder, Maline Costa, who also established and ran [?] the Moors.

Macara’s parents, Joseph and Mary (Lopes) Macara, had come to Provincetown from Portugal. He was graduated from Provincetown High School in 1924 and married Helen, his high-school sweetheart, four years later. Macara bought the Hilliard’s Wharf property in 1944 and built the store two years later, presumably when wartime supply restrictions began to ease. In 1952, he constructed a waterfront building for marine supplies, on the site of McGuire’s Sail Loft, 337R Commercial. (“Joseph E. Macara, 95, Founder of Land’s End Marine Supply,” The Banner, 14 December 2000.)

Joseph Macara’s nephew Craig Russell began working at the store in 1973 after leaving the Navy. He took over the business when Macara retired. Under a major expansion in 2003, the front and back buildings were joined and the entire complex was extended farther eastward to form a stubby L around the parking lot. At the crux of the L is the distinctive little lighthouse that symbolizes the store.

The expansion created a great stretch of blank wall, 4 by 48 feet, for which Russell commissioned his cousin, the artist Peter Macara (b 1950), to create a mural. Imagine a 192-square-foot black canvas! Sounds challenging enough, but the 1:12 proportion is what made it exceptional. Macara decided to render the town itself in a panoramic spread, as if it were being seen from a vantage not far from Long Point. He created the enormous work on six Masonite panels, each six-by-eight-feet each, using an easel that had belonged to his aunt, Helen Macara. (Peter’s parents are Norbert Macara, Joseph’s brother, and Juanita Macara. They are still living at 21 Brewster Street, the house in which Peter was born. He and his brother Richard share the property at 35 Alden Street.)

The mural, the family’s continuing involvement and the store’s long history all conspire to make it feel a peculiarly Provincetown institution, even though it is a member of the national True Value hardware cooperative, headquartered in Chicago. Its inventory is as impressive as it was in 1946 (“Townsfolk Revel in New Lands End,” The Advocate, 19 September 1946):

Among the supplies to be stocked are marine and house paints, builders tools and hardware, clothes for hunting and fishing, power tools, cooking and kitchen utensils, galvanized ware, stainless steel utensils, garden tools, fertilizer, seeds, boats of many kinds, outboard motors, nautical novelties, large line of brass fixtures, hunting equipment, and, of course, all of the gear needed by the commercial fisherman.

¶ Updated 2013-05-04


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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