At the Race Run Sporting Center, housed in this modest structure (c1940), “you could rent a bike, fix a flat, buy a hook and the bait to put on it, as well as get advice on where the bass and blues were running on any given day,” Susan Leonard said. The proprietors were Joseph Smith and his wife, Marilyn Smith. More recently, before moving to the old Eastern School, ArtStrand was here. More pictures and history »
Within this unremarkable roadside building (1972) is one of the most respected and pedigreed showcases in town: the Berta Walker Gallery. Berta Walker was the founding director of the Graham Modern Gallery in New York. Her father, Hudson D. Walker, was an influential art patron and one of the forces behind the Fine Arts Work Center. Her great-grandfather Thomas B. Walker was the original benefactor of the Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis. Her gallery, which opened in 1989, specializes in Provincetown artists. Walker currently represents Donald Beal; Varujan Boghosian; Romolo Del Deo and his father, Salvatore Del Deo; Elspeth Halvorsen; Robert Henry and his wife, Selena Trieff; Brenda Horowitz; Penelope Jencks; John “Jack” Kearney; Anne MacAdam; Erna Partoll; Sky Power; Blair Resika and her husband, Paul Resika; and Peter Watts; as well as the estates of Hans Hofmann, Herman Maril, Nancy Whorf and others.
Safe bet: if you came across this wild, woolly, in-your-face sculpture garden and were asked which of the town’s shopkeepers made his home here, you would probably guess, “It must be the guy who runs the wild, woolly, in-your-face Shop Therapy.” And you would be right. This is indeed where Ronny Hazel lives. Built around 1870, 4 Center Street served originally as the parsonage for the Center Methodist Episcopal Church across the street (now the Public Library). Hazel bought the property in 1991. “The garden is now full of sculptures so striking that some tourists think it’s an art museum,” Boston Spirit said in 2008. “And it kind of is.” Hazel told The Boston Globe in 2008 that he’s counted up to 20 visitors at a time gathered outside. “‘Oh, look at that, honey! Oh, did you see that?’ Not just one voice, like 10 voices. It’s so cool. You just want to tape it.” More pictures and history»
An important Federal-style building, easy to overlook. This was the property of Bessie D. Freeman at the turn of the 20th century, when the building was denominated 191 Commercial Street. City Video was a longtime tenant. The current tenants are A Gallery, showing the works of Eileen Counihan, Steve Desroches, John Dimestico, Alexandre Jazédé, Olga Manosalvas, Adam Peck, Marian Peck, Christopher Sousa and Harry Wicks. Downstairs is FK Full Kit Gear Shop, “Serious Gear for Serious Men.” Serious about what is obvious enough. More history»
Built around 1920 in the Colonial Revival style as a Ford Motor Company garage, 200 Commercial Street is a landmark in the development of the town’s art scene after World War II. In 1949, Weldon Kees, a painter, poet, art critic, jazz musician, playwright and filmmaker, organized Forum 49, an avant-garde series of talks and displays. One of the first programs centered on the question “What is an artist?” More pictures and history»
How many Provincetown guides tell you to go into a bank? Well, please do go into this one. Seamen’s Bank is interwoven in town history, through its banking and lending policies, its corporators, and its philanthropic presence. None of that is especially evident when you step inside its modest headquarters. What is obvious, however, are paintings by some of the town’s leading artists, most of them related to fishing and the sea. Not all of it is first-rate, but even lesser works carry deep significance. The bank has, for instance, kept alive the memory of the three draggers that were lost at sea in recent decades — the Patricia Marie, Cap’n Bill, and Victory II — in paintings by J. Mendes. More pictures and history»
Opposite Lancy’s Wharf is a magnificently eccentric Second Empire pile built in 1874 for Benjamin Lancy, a merchant and ship owner. If it reminds you of an Addams Family tableau, you should know that Lancy reportedly kept his dead mother in her bedroom for three months in 1896, rather than try to bury her in winter. Local legend credits his father, also Benjamin Lancy, with refusing to allow Commercial Street to be laid out in a straight line in the West End. After Lancy died in 1923, the building was acquired by the Research Club, a history-minded civic group, to be used as the Historical Museum. More pictures and history»
Union Square |Thanassi Gallery | Vasso’s Jewelry
The main house at 234 Commercial Street was once the residence of Dr. Clarence P. and Clio (Hull) Curley. He also owned the garage at 225 Commercial. It was built around 1870 in the Second Empire style, while the two-story pavilion in the rear yard was built around 1980. What is missing now is the small Greek Revival store that used to stand in the front yard. The structure was moved to 289 Branford Street, where it stands now. The Union Square complex suffered serious damage in 1976 from a fire set by an arsonist. More pictures and history»
Bill Evaul Studios and Gallery
The building was constructed in the middle decades of the 19th century and was shown as a paint shop in 1858. In the early 20th century, the property was owned by Jeremiah Atwood Rich (d 1932), who conducted the J. A. Rich grocery store for 50 years. (“Funeral Is Held For Mrs. M. J. Rich,” The Advocate, 17 June 1937.)
Hong Ting Wong (b ±1898), the artist and restaurateur responsible for the Cape Cod Tea Garden, at 327 Commercial Street, and Wong’s Restaurant, at 334 Commercial Street, also operated Wong’s Cozy Den Coffee Shop in this building in the late 1930s, serving fried chicken, chicken chop suey and chicken chow mein. More pictures and history»
Once upon a time, in the mid- to late 1960s, the East End had a book store every bit as good as the Provincetown Bookshop in the center of town. The East End Bookshop was owned and run by the photographer Molly Malone Cook — partner of the fine poet Mary Oliver — and it possessed both literary and artistic heft. Among its customers and visitors were Norman Mailer, Robert Motherwell and Henry Geldzahler. Its setting was a house built in the second half of the 19th century that was expanded over the years into a courtyard complex once known as the Quadrangle and now as Designer’s Dock. More pictures and history»
The prolific and long-active ceramist Paul Bellardo (b 1924) briefly had a gallery here, in 1961 and 1962, which he ran with Hal “Whitt” Whitsitt. Known as the Galleria di Bellardo, it offered original ceramics, gold, graphic arts, painting and sculpture. Bellardo had earlier been at 198 Commercial Street and moved from here to 404 Commercial Street. While at No. 352, he also opened a Galleria di Bellardo in Greenwich Village, at 486 Sixth Avenue. More pictures and history»
As the Tirca Karlis Gallery, directed by Tirca Cohen, this was not just a nexus of the Provincetown art scene in its heyday, but an important landmark for anyone who cared about modern American art. Consider the roster of “16 Americans” in July 1961. It included Milton Avery, Nell Blaine, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Goodnough, Sam Francis, Alfred Leslie, John Levee, Louise Nevelson, Theodoros Stamos and Joseph Stefanelli. More pictures and history»
The tower of the Provincetown Public Library is — and always was — a skyline ornament. But it was even more imposing in 1860 when it was built as the Center Methodist Church, with a steeple piercing the sky at 162 feet. The steeple came down after the Portland Gale of 1898, but the church nonetheless inspired Edward Hopper (as discussed by Stephen Borkowski with The New York Times), among other painters. The Methodists sold it in 1958 to Walter P. Chrysler Jr., whose father founded the Chrysler Corporation. He turned it into the Chrysler Art Museum, a fine-art collection now housed in Norfolk, Va. The old church was briefly the Center for the Arts before reopening in 1976 as the Provincetown Heritage Museum, curated by Josephine Del Deo. (Presciently, one of the life-size dioramas in the museum was “The 1873 Library,” whose wax-figure librarian, by Mary Bono, is shown above.) The museum’s astonishing, ship-in-a-bottle centerpiece was a half-scale model of the legendary schooner Rose Dorothea, built by Francis “Flyer” Santos. In 2005, the building began a new life as the Provincetown Public Library, replacing the Freeman building at 330 Commercial Street.
The nature of this charming cul-de-sac inspired the name of the Mews Restaurant and Café, which opened here in 1961 as the Inn at the Mews and remained until 1993. It then moved to 429 Commercial Street while keeping its name, which is now somewhat hard to understand at first glance since the current restaurant property looks nothing like a mews. The restaurant was established by Nicholas “Nicky” Wells (d 1985), a real estate developer, and his wife, the artist Ray Martan Wells (1908-2011). They are the namesakes of Nicky’s Park and of the Ray and Nicky Wells Conservation Area. More pictures and history»
Gail Browne Gallery | Sparks
Though considerably altered, the old house at 364 Commercial Street, with its cross-gabled roof, is still recognizable in outline as the central structure in Arthur V. Diehl’s lovely painting Provincetown (1913), in the collection of Helen and Napi Van Dereck — who also own this property and the adjacent No. 362. Tenants in recent years have included the Sparks jewelry store, a massage parlor called Healing Work, La Spiaggia (the beach, in Italian) and the Gail Browne Gallery. More pictures and history»
Capt. Louis Santos (b ±1880), skipper of the dragger Atlanta, and his wife, Mary, bought this house in 1918 and celebrated their 25th anniversary here in 1931. Seven years later, Captain Santos almost drowned when he fell while climbing on to the Cape Cod Cold Storage wharf from his boat, and so was weighed down in the icy water by heavy clothes and boots that he could barely cling to the wharf pilings. Manuel H. Jason and his wife owned the house in the 1950s. I’m presuming this is the same Jason who operated a barber shop in the front-yard commercial annex in the 1940s. More pictures and history»
The main building on this lot, which is also known as 3 Johnson Street, currently serves as the Gallery Inn, with three efficiency apartments. It is operated by Lenore Luttinger, who also owns the building. More apparent to passersby is the one-story commercial extension that was built after the 1940s into what was once a large side yard between Johnson and Arch Streets. More pictures and history»
Pepe’s Wharf may be the loveliest and most inviting of all of Provincetown’s little waterside shopping and dining enclaves — the Mews, Angels’ Landing, Designers’ Dock — thanks to its entrance portal, multiple levels, lush plantings and numerous corners, around which the passageway down to the restaurant and the beach keeps unfolding. It was developed in 1966 by Nils W. Berg (d 1994) and Eva (Kaye) Berg (1920-2009), just four years after Nicholas and Ray Wells had developed the Mews, at 359 Commercial Street. And the property is still in the hands of the Berg family, almost a half century later. “Pepe,” incidentally, seems to have been the nickname of the Bergs’ son Nils (b ±1955). More pictures and history»
This storefront space is important historically as the Jules Brenner shop and gallery, from 1967 to 1974. Brenner (1917-1991) was a silversmith and goldsmith who worked elegantly in the Modernist vocabulary, creating stylish jewelry and accessories with great biomorphic flair. David Mayo recalled the gold jewelry as “spectacular.” Brenner’s wife, Lee (b 1926), helped in the management of the shop. As a gallery proprietor, Brenner showed the work of Red Grooms and Mimi Gross among others. More pictures and history»
This striking double-bay house, which can easily be picked out of photographs taken of the near East End wharves at the turn of the century, has accommodated visitors for more than a half century. Capt. Arthur Duarte (±1902-2002) and his wife, Mary (Flores) Duarte, ran it in the 1950s and early 60s as the Casa Dominho, which was perhaps a contraction of the name of Domingos Godinho, who once lived here. Duarte, a native of Lisbon, was the owner and captain of several fishing vessels from the 1930s through the 1960s, including the Serafina (sometimes spelled Seraphina), the Yankee, and the Skipper. He lived to be 100. More pictures and history»
In events 40 years apart, 393 Commercial Street has embodied two very different trends in the development of modern Provincetown: once as the Sun Gallery, an especially provocative and influential establishment of the later 1950s and early 1960s; and currently as Utilities, which is more than 15 years old and reflects the stylish domestication of Provincetown. In 1995, when Hunter O’Hanian and Jeffry Cismoski were looking for a place to house their new business, the idea of a design-conscious houseware store was still somewhat incongruous. More pictures and history»
Ernden Fine Art Gallery | Cinnamon Sands | Pat’s Happy Park
There is a concept in real estate, “highest and best use,” that assigns value to a property based on the maximum feasible development it could sustain. By this standard, Elena Curtis Hall’s extraordinary waterfront parcels in the near East End, chiefly a parking lot, are badly misused. But from the vantage of civic amenities, Hall — known to some as the “parking lot lady” — has preserved a great patch of sky and an almost unrivaled view of the waterfront from Commercial Street. It’s hard to imagine a higher or better use. More pictures and history»
There are few better examples in town of the profound difference that stewardship can make than in the contrast between 398 and 396 Commercial. Radically different now, they were virtually identical Federal-style houses a half-century ago (apart from the fact that No. 396 had a portico and central chimney). Now, you’d need a practiced eye to discern their kinship. That’s not to say the modification was a bad thing to do. Certainly, it brings a commercial life to the facade that No. 396 lacks. But it did deprive a once-noble structure of much of its dignity. More pictures and history»
Among the businesses that have had a home here over the years were John Psomas’s meat market in the 1910s; Capt. John A. Matheson’s grocery store in the 1910s; Ye Pilgrime Shoppe in the early 1930s (sounds like they could have used Hopkins Cleansers); the Ethel Baker Mayo Studio in the late 1930s; the Pilgrim Shop in the early 1940s; and Michael Alexander, Fine Home Decorator, in the late 1940s. More pictures and history»
Best known in recent decades as the Antonelli Giardelli Gallery, a showcase of antiques and of Thomas Antonelli’s Cape end landscapes, 416 Commercial was — for 70 years — a redoubt for several generations of the Henrique-Parsons family, whose vessels included the Richard & Arnold and the Sea Fox. Capt. Frank Henrique (b ±1876) and Marianna/Marion Henrique (b ±1880) bought the property from the Lorings in 1909. Captain Henrique was the master of the dragger Dorothy. They transferred the property in 1927 to Frank Henrique Jr. and his wife, Mary T. Henrique. For a time, this was home to Capt. Frank H. Parsons Sr., master of the Richard & Arnold (named for two of his sons) and of the Arthur & Matthew. More pictures and history»
Former Church of Christ, Scientist | Packard Gallery
A great circle was closed in 1988 when the artist Anne (Locke) Packard bought 418 Commercial Street as a gallery for her works and those of her daughters, Cynthia and Leslie. Up until 1970, this had been owned by the Christian Science Society, which used it as a church and reading room. As it happened, Packard’s grandfather, the painter Max Bohm, was one of the more prominent Christian Scientists in town, though he did not live long enough to have attended services here.
There is a beguiling myth about Provincetown — and the embrace of this myth speaks well of the town — that it has forever been a tolerant place, where outliers have always found haven. There’s certainly truth to that, but the generality hides the vehemence with which Provincetown’s establishment descended on nonconformity in the 1950s and ’60s. I’ve centered discussion of the case of “Tralala” here because this was the home of William V. Ward (1928-2006), publisher of the Provincetown Review, when he was arrested for printing and selling a short story by Hubert Selby Jr. that authorities deemed “obscene, indecent or impure.” More pictures and history»
The Albert Merola Gallery, under the proprietorship of Albert Merola and James Balla, reached the quarter-century mark in 2012 as one of the most respected galleries in town, showing the works of Fritz Bultman, Pat de Groot, Donna Flax, Michael Mazur, Tabitha Vevers and John Waters, among others. The commercial space served as the Zoltan Gluck Art Gallery from 1967 to 1972, before Gluck moved to 398 Commercial. Residential tenants in the building have included the artist Susan Baker and the potter Peggy R. Prichett, who also served on the town’s Art Commission. These photographs of her apartment and her artwork were taken in 2009. More pictures and history»
The photographers Gurli and Jeff Lovinger opened their gallery here in 2006. This was the Eva De Nagy Gallery, founded in 1960, from the late 1970s through at least the early 1990s, when Gillian Drake described it (in The Complete Guide to Provincetown) as an “interesting gallery of African and Asiatic art, ivory and semiprecious stone carvings, bronzes from Nepal, 17th-century Philippine santos,” and De Nagy’s drawings. By 2004, it was the Clibbon Gallery, which subsequently moved to 120 Commercial.
This monumental house serves as a gateway to Kiley Court, which was once also known as Peter Hunt’s Alley or Peter Hunt’s Peasant Village. Fittingly, its commercial space has almost always had some kind of link — either in spirit or in practical business terms — with the artistic ambience of this lovely cul-de-sac. More pictures and history»
The eastern gateway to Kiley Court was where the first of the shops was situated that made up Peter Hunt’s Peasant Village, also known as Peter Hunt’s Alley. The small building that has most recently housed Gary Marotta Fine Art is recognizable in a photograph taken more than 70 years ago for an article about Hunt — the Martha Stewart of the 1940s — in Life magazine, “Made-Over Junk.”
Two B’s — Miss Lorraine T. Beatty and Mrs. Eda Beatty Pomeroy — bought this property in 1942 and opened the Two B’s home-made bake shop and candy store. They sold the building in 1945 to Lucille (Crawley) Donahue (±1902-2000), proprietor of the Everbreeze at 429 Commercial, which is now the Mews. Donahue and her sister, Vivian (Crawley) Worman, ran the women’s clothing boutique, Lucille and Vivian, at this location. The Donahue family continues to own the property, almost 70 years later. Subsequents tenants have included the prominent silversmith Paul A. Lobel, from 1950 to 1953, and, since 1998, the Simie Maryles Gallery, run by the artist Simie Maryles and her husband, Moe Van Dereck, a sculptor and musician. He once operated Moe’s Fancy Alden Street Workshop, at 29 Alden.
The antique dealer Austin Dunham (d 1967) had two houses in Provincetown: this one and a much better known residence — though no one has ever been inside its rooms — that sits under glass at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. In 1945, Dunham donated a doll house filled with miniature furniture he had been collecting to the Research Club’s Historical Museum at 230 Commercial. When that collection moved up to the Pilgrim Monument, the doll house was given a prominent spot in the gallery. At No. 436, Dunham operated the Sea Chest antiques shop in the 1920s and 30s, and also offered rooms to let. More pictures and history»
When Mother Avellar died, just shy of her 90th birthday, she left 10 children, 23 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great-grandhild — and the entire community of Provincetown. Angelina Jacinta (Soares) Avellar (1866-1956) was known as “Mother Avellar” far beyond her own brood at 437 Commercial. That brood, “Clan Avellar,” merited an entire chapter in Mary Heaton Vorse’s Time and the Town. “There was never a home with so much life and so much happiness in it,” Vorse wrote. The family included Father Avellar — Jose or Joseph Maria (1864-1946) — and the children: Antone Jason (1885-1961); Florence May (1888-1974); Katherine (b 1890); Angie (1892-1893); Albert Joseph (1894-1962); the twins, Gerald E. (b 1895) and Arthur E. (b 1895); Justin (1899-1900); Justin Francis (1902-1988); Ruth (1904-1904); Walter E. (1907-1964); Raphael (b 1908); and Izabel M. (1909-2007). More pictures and history»
Angela Russo Fine Art/Karilon Gallery
The “Kar-” in Karilon is Karen B. Katzel (1921-2013), the “-ilon” is Ilona Royce Smithkin, and a gallery bearing their fused names has existed at least a half century, originally in Peter Hunt’s old shop at 432 Commercial. Smithkin, who left her native Poland in the late ’30s, studied in Berlin, Antwerp and, in New York, with Robert Brackman at the Art Students League, which has deep and broad connections to the Provincetown art scene. Two of her prominent subjects who also had Cape End connections were Tennessee Williams and Bobby Short. She can — and should — be seen in video clips like Ilona Royce Smithkin: A Colorful Life and the 2010 version of Eyelash Cabaret, with Zoë Lewis. Katzel and Smithkin also owned Poor Richard’s Landing, 437-439 Commercial.
Angela Russo is the photographer, printer, and gallerist who has managed this space since 2005. “At the gallery, she sells prints of her photographs, which she produces digitally on fine, exotic papers and other surfaces, such as canvas,” Howard Karren wrote in The Provincetown Independent of 23 July 2020. “She also sells the Impressionist oil paintings of centenarian Ilona Royce Smithkin … and the erotically charged male figure paintings of Bruce Sargeant, the satirical persona (and queer riff on John Singer Sargent) of artist Mark Beard.”
The painter Robert Bruce Rogers (1907-1981) had his studio here in the 1930s, at about the same time as Paul Smith (1904-1977) opened the Provincetown Bookshop, which doubled as a lending library. When it began in 1932, the bookshop specialized in works by Provincetown-related authors, a not-inconsiderable cohort that included Phyllis Duganne (1899-1976), Susan Glaspell (1876–1948), Inez Hogan (1895-1973), Harry Kemp (1883-1960), Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953), George O’Neil (1896–1940), John Dos Passos (1896-1970), Lynn Riggs (1899-1954), Arthur D. Howden Smith (1887–1945), Wilbur Daniel Steele (1886-1970), Mary Heaton Vorse (1874-1966) and Edmund Wilson (1895-1972).
Isadora Duncan’s nephew, Menalkas Duncan (1905-1969), occupied this space in the 1950s under the name of the Duncan Sandal Shop. Duncan came about his interest in classical footwear through a most unusual circumstance. His father, Raymond Duncan (Isadora’s brother), was a devotee of things Grecian. “Devotee,” in fact, is not nearly strong enough a word to describe a man who dressed himself and his wife and his boy in the robes of ancient Greece as a matter of everyday wear around the house and out in the street. Raymond wove historically accurate clothes on a historically accurate loom, built his own historically accurate furniture, and married a historically accurate Ionian woman named Penelope, who played a historically accurate lyre. Once, in 1910, when young Menalkas was out walking around New York City in his historically accurate chiton, he and the adults accompanying him were hauled into a police station upon the complaint of a child welfare agent that the grown-ups had caused a minor “to be improperly and cruelly clothed.” This caused a predictable sensation in the press, as did the stories 10 years later when Menalkas — by now a 15-year-old — bolted the family in Paris and was next seen in a “neat gray suit of modern pattern.” How many teen-age boys in the 20th century revolted against their parents’ insistence that they not get a haircut?
Menalkas seems to have overcome that rebellious streak enough to specialize in the manufacture of sandals that looked nearly identical to the ones he and his family had worn decades earlier: two pairs of crossed straps joined to a central thong running between the big toe and second toe.
Later in the 1950s, Selma’s Jewelart was here (and on Charles Street in Greenwich Village). The store, run by Selma Dubrin, was later at 423 Commercial. By the early 60s, this was the Stuttman Gallery, run by Esther Stuttman.
With the addition of the Alvin Ross Wing in 2005, the facade of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum now expresses almost perfectly the strong undercurrent of creative tension — between traditionalism and (moderate) modernism — that has long vitalized this institution. With expansive glass walls, the new ground-floor gallery reaches out to the community; a deliberate gesture by the architects, Machado and Silvetti Associates of Boston. The addition, which roughly doubled PAAM’s size, is a lesson in urbanism: contextually appropriate architecture doesn’t have to be imitative. Instead, the new wing, clad in cedar shingles and louvers, keeps a deferential distance, spatially and aesthetically, from the old Ephraim Cook house, to which it is joined.
Hulk (Beachcombers’ clubhouse) | (Former) William Boogar Foundry | McGuire Gallery and Studio
You could walk dozens of times past this nondescript old waterfront building — the Hulk is its official designation — without realizing that it has long been a locus of power, influence and camaraderie in the Provincetown art colony. I certainly did. And you know what? The Beachcombers are fine with that. They deliberately assume a low profile. Almost nothing about the Hulk gives away its purpose publicly, except a small hand-painted sign saying, “Parking only while in the Beachcombers.”
So who are the Beachcombers? Think: Century Association and Skull & Bones — in a camel costume. That is, an arts organization that takes its mission and itself quite seriously, but that can’t help indulge sometimes in hijinks that would have been more or less appropriate for a boys’ summer camp. It is no coincidence that it was founded two years after the Provincetown Art Association across the street, and by many of the same people. As the art colony grew in the early 20th century, it needed both a place to exhibit its work seriously and a place to fraternize privately. Its 1916 constitution said its purpose was “to promote good fellowship among men sojourning or resident in or about Provincetown who are engaged in the practice of the fine arts or their branches” or “who are intimately connected with the promotion of the fine arts” — defined to mean painting, etching, engraving, sculpture, architecture, designing, illustrating, writing, music and acting. Officers, committees and events were given maritime names. More pictures and history»
A plaque on the building notes that it was once the whale oil refinery of David C. Stull (1844-1926), the Ambergris King, who lived at 472 Commercial. The quarterboard (a replica, according to George Bryant) recalls the Montezuma, a whaler commissioned in the 1850s. The storefront space was the East End Market and the Little Radio Shop, managed by S. F. Weeks, in the 1930s; the shop of the silversmith Jules Brenner from 1956 to 1966 and the Boat House Gallery in the mid-2000s. It is now the East End branch of Julie Heller’s long-established and well-respected gallery downtown.
You might think many things about the spartan box at 481 Commercial, with its odd little clerestory windows, as you scurry by in search of authentic cultural milestones. You might wonder where the Historic District Commission was when we needed it. You might ponder how anyone could see out those windows. You probably wouldn’t think, “Ah, this is one of the most important landmarks of the last golden age of the Provincetown summer art colony, and a vital outpost of the Abstract Expressionist movement in the early 1950s.” But it is. And it was.
Now the Chandler House Gallery, a two-bedroom condominium, this building was constructed 60 years ago as the Kootz Gallery; the Provincetown branch of Samuel M. Kootz’s important and influential gallery at 15 East 57th Street in Manhattan, where the works of Abstract Expressionists (Kootz called them the “Intrasubjectives”) were given a generous home. The New York gallery opened in 1949 with a show that included Robert Motherwell, Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky and Ad Reinhart. That was for starters! More pictures and history»
Thirty or forty years before the notion of “adaptive reuse” gained currency in the preservation movement, the Eastern School was adaptively reused. Again. And again. And again. It has a remarkable track record of community service, made even more astonishing by the fact that is one of the few extant buidings in Provincetown that were mentioned by Henry David Thoreau in Cape Cod: “Notwithstanding all this sand, we counted three meeting-houses and four school-houses nearly as large.” The Eastern School was constructed in 1844, along with the Western School on Tremont Street and the Central School at 126 Bradford Street, both now demolished. Each served three grades. “These schools were furnished with blackboards, maps, globes and all the latest appliances for education in that day, and were considered models,” Nancy W. Paine Smith wrote in The Provincetown Book. More pictures and history»
Like the abutting 4 Fishburn Court, No. 6 is actually part of the Fine Arts Work Center campus at 24 Pearl Street. This full Cape was constructed in the mid-19th century. It was home in the mid-1950s to Manuel Reis (±1890-1958), a deep-sea fisherman who had been born in Olhao, Portugal, and his wife, Mary. Arthur Duarte (b 1902) and Mary Duarte (b 1902) were living here in the early 1980s. More pictures and history»
It is something of a wonder that Napi’s is “only” approaching its 40th anniversary, in 2015, since it’s one of those institutions so interwoven with town life that it would be hard to imagine Provincetown without it. And like the best such institutions, Napi’s is sui generis — it would be hard to imagine this restaurant anywhere else; not with its wildly sculptural brick wall by Conrad Malicoat and its cold-air duct embellished with an Arctic scene by Jackson Lambert. Napi’s is the product of a personal vision that’s imaginative, free-flowing, aesthetic, resourceful, somewhat ornery, more than a little bit eccentric and deeply rooted in the town. The impresario in this case is the peppery, garrulous Anton “Napi” Van Dereck Haunstrup (b 1932), pictured here, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Helen (Schmidt) Van Dereck Haunstrup (b 1940). More pictures and history»
Two lively traditions — the theater and the arts — are embodied in this dilapidated but utilitarian shed, exactly the sort of place in which much of the town’s cultural flowering occurred. It has been in the hands of the Heller family since 1972/1973, when Lester Heller (1919-2009) and Adele Heller (d 1997) took over the Provincetown Playhouse on the Wharf, here at 2 Gosnold Street, and converted it into an Equity house. Sadly, they were given little time to implement their vision. Arsonists destroyed the theater and adjoining costume and set shop in 1977, though the box office and Eugene O’Neill Museum (located in this building) survived.
The White Porch Inn, which opened in 2007 under the proprietorship of Thomas G. Shirk, cultivates a casually refined image. But 7 Johnson Street was once a rather more raffish establishment known as the Coat of Arms. And in that period, under Arpina (Eghigian) Stanton (b 1924) and her husband, Dr. Harry H. “Skip” Stanton (1928-2001), it was among the groundbreaking establishments in town, as one of only three guest houses to join in the first Carnival parade in 1977, thereby declaring quite publicly that it served and cultivated a gay and lesbian clientele. (The others were the Ranch, 198 Commercial, and George’s Inn, 9 Court Street.) These formed the nucleus of the Provincetown Business Guild. Continue reading
At least as far back as the 1950s, Franklin J. Oliver (1918-1982) and Hilda V. Oliver (1922-2004) made their home here. They were married in ±1936. Oliver, a deputy chief in the Provincetown Fire Department, died 19 November 1982 while fighting a suspicious fire in a bakery, when he was struck over the head by an air pack. Mrs. Oliver, who had worked at the Colonial Inn and at the Cape Colony Inn, sold the property in 1996 to Edward “Ted” Chapin (b 1950) and his partner, Torrence Boone. They subsequently acquired and renovated 6 Pearl Street, but Chapin maintains an art gallery, Gallery4Pearl, on the ground floor of this house, which was constructed in the mid-19th century. More pictures and history»
As a teacher, Charles W. Hawthorne is given much credit for Provincetown’s emergence as an art colony. As a landlord, Frank A. Days Jr. (1849-1937) isn’t given credit enough. The low-cost artist studios he and his successors furnished here and on Brewster Street ensured that many people were able to study and practice in Provincetown who otherwise could not have afforded to live here. Azorean by birth, Days arrived in Provincetown at the age of 18. In 1911, he bought a large parcel on Pearl Street and established a contracting and construction supply company — F. A. Days & Sons — with Frank A. Days Jr. (1877-1961) and Joseph A. Days. In 1914, Days constructed artists’ studios atop the lumber houses on the south side of the lumberyard and began renting them, first to Ross Moffett and Henry Sutter; soon thereafter to Hawthorne, Edwin Dickinson and Charles Kaeselau. These studios, renovated most recently in 2010, now form the historical core of the Fine Arts Work Center campus.
Pop culture has long been Shank Painter Road’s stock in trade. High culture, not so much. That is, until 2009, when Ewa Nogiec (b 1952), a photographer, painter, illustrator and graphic designer, opened Gallery Ehva in the principal commercial space at No. 74, owned by Charles W. Silva, whose other properties along the road begin at the Stop & Shop. Nogiec is a native of Wroclaw, Poland. She attended the Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Poznaniu (Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan). By her own account, the conceptual artist Jarosław Kozłowski was her most important teacher. In 1981, the convulsive year in which martial law was imposed in Poland to curb the rapid growth of the independent trade union movement embodied by Lech Wałęsa, Nogiec learned about Provincetown while on a visit to New York. More pictures and history»