476 Commercial Street

476 Commercial Street, Figurehead House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

476 Commercial Street, Figurehead House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

Could there have been a more memorable lady in Provincetown? I’m not referring to the figurehead that gives No. 476 its name — Figurehead House — but to Abbie Cook Putnam, the town librarian from 1901 to 1935, who lived here. She would not issue Eugene O’Neill a library card on his own standing in 1917, since he wasn’t a property owner. And when he showed up drunk at the library after winning the Pulitzer Prize, she tossed him out. Miss Putnam’s grandfather, Capt. Henry Cook, lived in this Second Empire-style house. On the Indian Ocean in 1867, the A. L. Putnam, a whaling schooner in the Cook fleet, came across a lone figurehead, severed from whatever vessel she had once adorned. She was brought back to town and placed on Capt. Cook’s house where she, or a plaster replica, have been perched ever since.


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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