27A Bradford Street

27A Bradford Street, fly loft of the Barnstormers' Theater, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

27A Bradford Street, fly loft of the Barnstormers’ Theater, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

In a town of wild structures, this amazing relic is one of the wildest: a fly loft for a theater that was integral to the Provincetown renaissance. Frank Shay, an editor and bookseller, belonged to the Provincetown Players. In 1924, to keep the spirit alive after the troupe moved to New York, he converted his barn into the Barnstormers’ Theater, Leona Rust Egan wrote in Provincetown as a Stage. After Paul Robeson’s successful portrayal of The Emperor Jones, Shay campaigned to bring that production to town. Instead, Egan said, Robeson appeared here in 1925 in a program of spirituals and folk songs. Local lore has it that Bette Davis also trod these boards. The cottage colony around the theater was known in the 1940s and ’50s as Skipper Raymond’s Cottages, run by Frank and Frances (Perry) Raymond, who’s on the mural at Fishermen’s Wharf. Napi Van Dereck now owns the property.

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