Brass Key Guesthouse
The Queen Anne House, a unit of the Brass Key Guesthouse compound, is a wondrously eclectic confection of many gables, Carpenter Gothic detailing and gorgeous Ionic columns. As transient lodging, the house has returned to its role in the 19th century, when it was the Cottage Inn, a boarding house run by Caleb Cook. It is also strongly associated with both the nearby Gifford House and the old First National Bank of Provincetown. That connection was first embodied in the person of Moses Nickerson Gifford, whose home this was until his death in 1918. Gifford was the son of James Gifford, namesake of the hotel up the street. He went into the banking business, beginning in 1866 as a cashier at the national bank. Twenty-two years later, in 1888, Gifford assumed the presidency of the bank, which he held for three full decades. But that alone greatly understates his civic role.
Gifford was a trustee of the Public Library and a member of King Hiram’s Lodge, serving as its master from 1879 to 1880. He was the first dues-paying member of the Provincetown Art Association in 1914. (One dollar, in case you’re wondering.) He was active in the Universalist church: as deacon, clerk, Sunday school teacher, Sunday School superintendent and simply as a winning personality. “He will be best remembered by many, by members and visitors alike, as waiting in the vestibule before the service with an outstretched hand and smile of welcome,” the parish memorial read. His wife of nearly a half century, Harriet (Lovering) Gifford, survived him by only 44 days, dying suddenly one evening after entertaining guests here in this house.
John A. Matheson succeeded Gifford as president of the national bank in 1918 and, in the same year, bought this property from the Gifford estate. As a teen-ager in the early 1880s, he had served aboard one of the cod-fishing boats owned by his father, Capt. William Matheson, on two trips to the Grand Banks. He later joined his father in the business. He was also an agent for the steamer Longfellow, Provincetown’s maritime link to Boston, which docked at Matheson’s Wharf. In 1908, he developed the Fisherman Cold Storage Company freezer complex, and remained its president until the mid-1930s, when it was acquired by the Atlantic Coast Fisheries Company.
In 1916, his daughter, Carrie, married Daniel C. Merrill, whose family had taken over the Gifford House in the early 20th century. The couple lived here. As if a foregone conclusion — given his home’s history — Merrill was elected president of the First National Bank in 1959. Andrew S. Turocy III bought the house in 1981 and operated it as a 10-room guest house called Roomers. It was acquired in 2005/8 [?] by the operators of the Brass Key and incorporated into the complex as the Queen Anne House, with nine [?] rooms.