462 Commercial Street

Ravenwood (Silverleaf Condominium)

Four accomplished women — Helen Carr (Dugdale) Wood, Eva De Nagy, Diane J. Corbo and Valerie A. Carrano — have been associated with this property since 1944, when it was known as the Silver Leaf Cottage. Wood (±1875-1960) bought the building in 1944 from Theodore Chase. Born in England, Wood had come to America with her parents, settling in New Bedford. She studied art before and after marrying William A. Wood, an engineer who helped plan the first telephone lines to reach the lower Cape. One of her daughters, Mildred Greensfelder, is commemorated by the children’s playground at 211½ Bradford Street. Three years after she bought the place, the enormous elm in the front yard was toppled during a hurricane.

In 1959, shortly before her death, Wood sold Silver Leaf to Dr. Paul Szafir and his wife, Eva De Nagy (1911-1999). De Nagy was born in Hungary to a well-known portraitist, Ernest De Nagy. She had a brother, Laszlo De Nagy, who is not to be confused with the famous Hungarian artist and Bauhausler, László Moholy-Nagy, though their dates are strikingly similar (1906-1944 for Nagy, 1895-1946 for Moholy-Nagy). Ernest encouraged his daughter’s artistic career. She studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, whose alumni included Vincent Van Gogh and René Magritte. She opened an art gallery here in June 1960 with a show of painters who were also printmakers, including Jan Gelb, Boris Margo and Seong Moy.

Corbo (b 1946) had been coming to Provincetown for 13 years before she and Carrano (b 1950) purchased this building in 1983. In Provincetown: From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort, Karen Christel Krahulik distilled the process:

Corbo moved to Provincetown for two reasons. First, she depended on Land’s End [Provincetown] as an escape from the pressures of working with terminally ill patients in the oncology and intensive care units Yale University Hospital in New Haven, Conn. Second, she found comfort in Provincetown’s acceptance of nonconforming people. Corbo’s first connection with Provincetown bordered on the spiritual. ‘It was really very refreshing and renewing to me,’ she explained, ‘and being able to walk the beach any time of the day or night and find solitude and peacefulness really helped me in my work.’

To help pay the cost of their new home, Corbo and Carrano, who was at Yale doing epidemiological research, converted their property into a guest house called Ravenwood. They opened a short-lived restaurant, Pub Down Under, at 179 Commercial, and then the very successful Snug Harbor, at 157 Commercial. It was at Ravenwood that the nucleus of what would become the Women Innkeepers of Provincetown first met, on a social occasion. The Women Innkeepers first sponsored a Women’s Weekend in October that grew into Women’s Week, one of the milestones on the celebratoy calendar each year. Ravenwood continues as a member of the group, which in 2012 also included the Fairbanks Inn, 90 Bradford Street; Gabriel’s at the Ashbrooke Inn, 102 Bradford; Heritage House, 7 Center Street; Inn at the Moors, 59 Province Lands Road; and Rose Acre, 5 Center.

Corbo and Carrano have assumed far larger civic roles, as well. Corbo served as town nurse and also as director of the town’s Public Health and Human Services Department, which includes the important Council on Aging — a post in which she was followed by Carrano, who stepped down in 2010. (Pru Sowers, “Provincetown’s Carrano to Retire From C.O.A. Post,” The Banner/Wicked Local, 11 January 2010.) They were also among the first to apply for marriage licenses in May 2004, when that became possible in Massachusetts. “We have been experiencing so many waves of sorrow while we’ve been here, so many sorrows around H.I.V.,” Corbo said at the time. “It’s so nice to have a joyful feeling in town.”


 

 


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