Stephen Cook, whose home this was in the 1800s, owned a wharf across the road that he passed on to his nephew George Knowles, after whom it was called Knowles’s Wharf. In 1901, the upland building — in Italianate-inflected Greek Revival style — was acquired by Dr. William Spafard Birge and his wife, Dr. Ella Freeman (Kendrick) Birge, who turned it into the Ocean View Sanatorium. Florence (Croft) Urtiago and Paulino Urtiago, a Basque, renamed it Casa Gernika in the mid-’40s. The name changed to Somerset House under Roland “Chick” Chamberland and Peter Ryder. Then John “Jon” Gerrity took over in 1970. He had a “strong sense of style,” another innkeeper, Len Paoletti, recalled. In the living room, gold-framed art hung on flat-black walls trimmed in glossy white. Susan Zaks managed the place. It was sold in 1991, after Gerrity died of AIDS. Ownership passed in 2005 to Bob Klytta and Dan Hoort.
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.