350 Commercial Street

Monty’s | Phenomena Estate Jewelry & Art

Capt. Alexander “Alec” Kemp (±1854-1946), master of the schooner Sea Fox, was described by The Advocate as the “last great Grand Banks skipper” at the time of his death at the age of 92. He lived at 350 Commercial Street. Born n Cape Breton, he arrived in Provincetown when he was 16 but spent most of his life at sea. (“Funeral Is Held for Captain Kemp; Death Ends Long Voyage of Cape End’s Grand Grand Banker, The Advocate, 17 January 1946.) “For 45 years, he fished on the perilous Grand Banks, making 49 trips in that period, doubling up with two trips a year when demand was good and conditions favorable. He was proud of his most unusual record — as well he might be — that he never lost a vessel, but even more important, never lost a man.”

This was the property of Mrs. Nellie F. Gifford at the turn of the century, when it was denominated 323 Commercial Street.

As The Adult Book Shop, run by Joseph Palladino of Boston, this was the site of a key encounter in 1966 between the forces seeking to liberalize Provincetown and those who wanted to keep it just the way it was. A petition to the Selectmen, with more than 90 signatures, said that while the “Adults Only” sign might protect youngsters, “we must also be protected — as far as possible — from sick adults.” An investigation by Detective Manuel Jason of the Provincetown Police Department, along with members of the District Attorney’s office, concluded that the Adult Book Shop was a perfectly legal operation.

Monty’s, founded in 1992, specializes in Italian and domestic ceramics and pottery, housewares and Christmas ornaments, with a special emphasis on the glass ornaments produced by the Christopher Radko Company. It’s not clear to me at this time whom Monty was; the owner of the building and the properietor of the business is Frederick A. Schulenburg of South Wellfleet. Phenomena opened in the downstairs retail space in 2010, replacing Monty’s II.

One thought on “350 Commercial Street

  1. This property has a rather convoluted history, some of which I am aware of as we were abutters from 1962 on.

    Firstly, I’m sure there is some confusion regarding an adult bookstore at that location in 1966. When we bought the adjacent property, the front building shown in your photo did not exist. There was still a long lawn and a picket fence in front of what is now called the Captain’s House [350A Commercial Street].

    Shirley Mariaschin bought the property around 1971 and wanted to subdivide it into two lots, but did not have enough frontage. My recollection is that she told the assessor’s office there was a mistake and they took her word for it. She subsequently built the front building, which had two small shops a little below ground level and a larger one upstairs in which her husband sold over-the-counter pharmacy items. She ran an antique jewelry shop in one of the lower level shops and the other was rented out for various seasons to Aubre Gioler and Flemming Pederson, a Dane, who made beautiful bead jewelry and others I can’t recall. Burt Wolfman sold costume watches there for a couple of years in a shop that I think may have been called It’s About Time. Because of the situation regarding the lots, I believe in 1975, rather than selling the building, she gave a 99-year lease to the “buyer.”

    The Captain’s House has always had a difficult situation regarding access to the building for oil deliveries, etc. We allowed oil trucks to pass their hose through our small parking area at the rear of 352 and over the fence, with the proviso that no trucks pull into the parking space, as that is where our cesspool was located. This situation may have changed since the sewer system was put in, but there is still only a six-foot right-of-way leading to the Captain’s House.

    I think there also may be some confusion regarding Nellie (Smith) Gifford owning the property. In the 1890 census she was a widow, living with — probably — her daughter Nellie N. Law and son-in-law Louis A. Law in Margaret Kemp’s house.

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