438 Commercial Street

438 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

438 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

438 Commercial Street (1920), from the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

438 Commercial Street (1920), from the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

Today’s Red House looks just like that of picture postcards nearly a century old. It’s astonishing. One explanation is the fact that it has been in the hands of only one family since 1899, when it was purchased by Edwin Pliny Seaver, the superintendent of public schools in Boston for 24 years and a Harvard overseer. Seaver was a progressive figure in championing the relatively young kindergarten movement as “an excellent bridge for leading the child over from home life into school life.” A school in Jamaica Plain bears his name. In 1931, his granddaughter Roberta Seaver married Ernest Gebelein, whose family still owns the house.


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.

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