This view up Commercial Street may be the most storybook tableau in town — a 20th-century fiction, of course, but wholly beguiling all the same. Ten Commercial Street is the other half of the Delft Haven cottage colony (see 7 Commercial Street), created around 1934 by Ralph S. Carpenter, who lived across the way at 11 Commercial Street. It was, in a modest way, a predecessor to more recent developments like Telegraph Hill; borrowing many aesthetic cues from the town but packaging them in an improbably immaculate — and isolated — setting.
At the time, as The Advocate noted, visitors had to cope with “decaying rubbish, loathsome horse mackerel heads on the beaches and litter of all kinds on the streets.” Carpenter, the newspaper said in 1937, proved that “charm, beauty and cleanliness are profitable.” But only for certain people. As a contemporary brochure noted pointedly, patronage was “restricted.” Restricted to whom? It’s hard to imagine Jewish or African-American visitors flocking to the Yankee-inflected Cape tip in the 1930s in any case. Openly gay couples would also seem to have been out of the question (though Carpenter would gladly have turned away same-sex pairs). Perhaps he was telling his many Portuguese neighbors that they weren’t welcome, either. ¶ Updated 2012-11-24