419 Commercial Street

A delightfully odd facade — a giant bay seems to burst forth from a gambrel-roof cottage — characterizes this home and former store. It was the first place in which the silversmith Paul A. Lobel set up shop in Provincetown, in 1949, expanding his renowned business from the Greenwich Village store at 165 West Fourth Street. By the mid-60s, it was known as Gala Leah, which featured hand-crafted objects, antiques and clothing. Leona Rust Egan and Marguerite L. Young purchased the property in 1974. They opened and ran a store called the Ironmongers, dealing in antiques, books, prints and jewelry.

“Ironmongers. The name means hardware store in England,” Egan told me in 2012. “We specialized in antique metals: iron, brass, bronze; silver and gold. We ran the shop from 1978 to 1990.” There is no longer a commercial tenant at No. 419, though Egan still owns the building.

Egan is the author of the two most succinctly comprehensive works on the theatrical tradition at the Cape tip: Provincetown as a Stage: Provincetown, the Provincetown Players, and the Discovery of Eugene O’Neill (1994), dedicated to Young’s memory; and Provincetown Theater: A Walking Tour of Historic Theater Sites (1996). The third chapter of Provincetown as a Stage, “City of Sand, City of Canvas,” which sets the stage for O’Neill’s arrival — beginning in pre-history — is the best single account of the evolution of this place at land’s end; a 42-page tour de force that will get anyone’s exploration of Provincetown’s past off to an illuminating start.

[Updated 2012-02-20]





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