357 Commercial Street

Galería Cubana | (Formerly) Now Voyager Bookstore and Gallery

When 2011 began, Provincetown had three good independent bookstores. That astonishing figure yields an average of one good independent bookstore for every 1,000 year-round residents. If New York City, America’s publishing capital, enjoyed such a ratio, there would be 8,000 good independent bookstores throughout the five boroughs. (There aren’t.) But the realities of the upended publishing industry finally caught up with Mark Leach, proprietor of the 21-year-old Now Voyager Bookstore and Gallery for the previous nine seasons, who had “been serving the community’s gay and lesbian book needs with aplomb,” in the words of Kim Grant’s Explorer’s Guide to Cape Cod. At the end of 2011, he finally had to close the store.

The name of the store, which opened in 1991, brings Bette Davis to many people’s minds, including mine. But the more literate among us may better recall the lines from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass: “The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted, / Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.” And there was much to find here. Though Now Voyager’s strength was in its collection of fiction and nonfiction books of special interest to lesbian and gay readers, it also had a reliable — if limited — inventory of general-interest titles.

Sharing the commercial space at No. 357 is the Galería Cubana, founded in 2007 and directed by Michelle Wojcik, who describes herself as one of only about 30 licensees in the United States authorized to import Cuban artwork. She has another gallery in Boston.

The property was known in the 1950s as the Sea Side Apartments.












2 thoughts on “357 Commercial Street

  1. Now, Voyager Bookstore was opened in 1990, not 1991, by two New York expats, Nan Cinnater and Diane Johnson (Nan currently works at the Provincetown Bookshop and Diane at the post office). The author is correct: Nan and Di based the name of their bookstore on the Walt Whitman poem and used the quote on their bookmarks for many years. It specialized initially in Lesbian and Gay fiction (and even had its own large section for gay books, quite daring for 1990), general fiction and non-fiction, and mysteries (Nan was an avid mystery reader). For the first five summers, I was their summer manager (the art gallery in the back of the store initially was an apartment where I lived with that expanse of Ptown Harbor as a backdrop) and spent many many wonderful days and nights surrounded by books, as well as so many authors in town at the Fine Arts Work Center or just visiting who would stop by to chat and promote their books (we usually already had them in stock, much to their delight): I also worked for the first summer with Mark as it transitioned owners. Kip and Gloria Silva were the wonderful, wonderful owners of the Sea Side Cottages well into the mid-1990s, when the Silvas decided to retire to Florida and sold the property as condominiums. Kip did all the repairs and Gloria was the tireless custodian and housemother to renters who came back year after year. The Silvas threw great parties on July 4th on the back deck overlooking the harbor with the fireworks exploding over the water. It was a wonderful time to be in Provincetown!!!

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