184 Commercial Street

Marc by Marc Jacobs

What is now among the most up-to-date venues in Provincetown is a house that dates to the mid-19th century, according to the Historic District Survey. James Fuller owned the building at the turn of the 20th century, when it was denominated 181 Commercial Street. It was the home in the mid-1960s of Bert Perry (±1921-1966), the piano player for many seasons at the Ace of Spades Club across the street.

(“Find Piano Player Dead in Room,” The Advocate, 2 June 1966.) Lobsters were being sold here at least through the 1970s, when the building was owned by Manuel Silva and his wife. Eileen Roland acquired the property in 1991 for $165,000. It housed a store called WA, founded in 1996 by Thomas M. Rogers, which since moved to 220 Commercial Street. Then, in 2007, it became a Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique.

To his own evident surprise, Mike Albo, the Critical Shopper columnist for The New York Times, found that he liked the place very much. “I thought it would be full of precious, overpriced safari bags — and it does have them — but here’s the shocking thing: a lot of stuff here is cheap and pretty great,” he wrote. (“Marc Jacobs’s Excellent Vacation,” The New York Times, 24 July 2008.)

Some Ptown regulars grumbled that it was too snooty for this salty, sexy town and would dilute the charming local flavor. But anyone with a speck of taste would choose the place any day over that irritating Black Dog store down the street. …

Marc by Marc Jacobs has enjoyed immense success. It is one of the few stores open year round, and it turned a profit after just a year in business. Who knows these days.

The image of precious fashion boutiques lining the street may gross you out, but the Marc Jacobs makes sense. It complements Map and the other cool clothing shops, creating a healthy, stylish ecosystem for the town. And anyway, the brand’s trend-making, gossiped-about namesake is brazenly gay, has a messy love life and can’t stop posing half-naked in front of people.

Sounds like Provincetown to me.






2 thoughts on “184 Commercial Street

  1. In the summer of either 1951 or 52′ in the atic lived Richard Allan. Mr. Silva owned a small lobster boat (as did his son, who did not live at home); Mrs. Silva sold lobsters from the side door of the house. Every few days she would leave me a quart of milk and the most delicious lobster sandwich at the door that led to the steep stairs to the atic. I am now a retired Professor of Law but in 1953 went to work at CBS in television.

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