11 Commercial Street


Ralph S. Carpenter, the developer of Delft Haven (at 7 Commercial Street and 10 Commercial Street), overlooked the cottage colony from his own ample house at 11 Commercial Street, which was built around 1880. His quest for tidiness seemed to extend to his views on morality.

Carpenter became a Selectman in 1952. That year, he co-signed — with Frank H. Barnett, the chairman, and William A. White, the clerk — “An Appeal to All Decent People in the Town of Provincetown,” saying the town was “at this moment overrun with a throng of men described by Archbishop Cushing as ‘the lowest form of animal life.’”

“Help stamp out” the “degrading and soul destroying influence” of homosexuals, they wrote. “Let us not permit our town to become a Sodom or Gomorrah.”

[Updated 2012-08-19]




3 thoughts on “11 Commercial Street

  1. My first job as a teenager in the early 1970s was cleaning house and running errands for the gentle and kind Mrs. Constance Carpenter who, at the time, was in her early to mid-80s but was as spry and as sharp as could be.

    If memory serves me, she owned a handsome Ford Zodiac and every few weeks I drove her to Hyannis for appointments. I wonder if she realized that I had had my license for mere months!

    What I remember most about 11 Commercial Street are the stunning Spanish bells, brought back from Cuba, that hung from wooden frames in the yard. They gave that beautiful corner of Provincetown a distinct look and feel. The Carpenters traded one of their bells for a magnificent Frederick Waugh seascape that graced their living room wall adjacent to a large window that looked out across Provincetown Harbor. Waugh had his bell installed in the belfry of St. Mary’s of the Harbor, the church that had been his devotional project in the last years of his life.

  2. I have received the following email from Neysa Carpenter Garrett, to whom I am indebted:

    “I believe the house at 11 Commercial Street originally belonged to Ralph’s father, Edmund James Carpenter, who wrote The Pilgrims and Their Monument (1911). My grandfather was Ralph’s brother. My aunt has many photographs of Provincetown early in the century, and I have three paintings from that time. One appears to be of Commercial Street, at or near that house.”

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