212 Commercial Street

Global Gifts | Muir Music | Norma Glamp’s

Though it looks like part of a compound with the Art House theater — and is in fact on the same tax lot — 212 Commercial Street was constructed between 1850 and 1870. (The Long Point exhibit at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum identifies it as a floater.) James Matenos owned the property in the mid-20th century and offered rooms for transients and ran a shoe repair shop. The building was firmly pinned on summer visitors’ retail map by 1960 with the Paraphernalia apparel store — “everything to make you Happily Dressed (except culottes!)” it declared in an ad just before Bastille Day. In 1963, Mary Rattray Kanovitz, a costume jeweler from the East Village, opened the Queen of Diamonds, a clothing and accessories store.

Her delightful manifesto of May 31, 1963, defined what the store was and wasn’t:

No diamonds, but we do have necklaces and ear rings of amber, jade, crystal, Venetian glass, antiques and our own. No bowler hats, we prefer Panamas, caps from Pakistan or Brigitte Bardot kerchiefs. No wedding gowns but slacks, marvelous shifts, bathing suits, mohairs, clothes to play in or just look beautiful No dulls or drabs, color and originality our special thing.

Kanovitz and her husband, Howard Kanovitz, also owned the Apple Tree Cottage at 534 Commercial Street. A couple of members of John Waters’s Dreamland ensemble worked at the Queen of Diamonds. In the early 1980s, the Saint Tropez men’s clothing shop was here.

Muir Music, a CD and DVD store owned by Nancy M. Yeaw, is the current retail tenant. In the extension of the old house is the Global Gifts shop, established in the late 1970s by Lydia and David Hamnquist. It specializes in imports from China and Nepal that the Hamnquists select themselves on buying trips.

Norma Glamp’s, formerly Norma Glamp’s Rubber Stamps, is owned by Steven R. Katz, who also owns Memories, at 169 Commercial Street. It’s a gift shop and a gallery that showcases the work of Katz and other artists. The building has been owned since 1971 by the New Art Realty Corporation, currently headed by Benjamin deRuyter.

[Updated 2012-05-27]



2 thoughts on “212 Commercial Street

  1. I have a post card of this house when it was known as “The Burch’s.” I believe Charles W. Burch ran a guest house here some time in the ’20s and early ’30s. He put an ad in The Advocate on Sep. 27, 1934: “House For Sale, 212 Commercial St., opposite new post office, known as the Burch’s. Apply to Charles W. Burch.” At the time, Mr. Burch appeared to be living above his bakery at 251 Commercial Street. I’ll send you a picture of the post card.

    From Denise Avallon.

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