313-315A Commercial Street

 
Former Post Office | Equipped | Cape Cod Times Provincetown Bureau | Lily Pond | Coffee Pot | Red Shack | Surf Club Restaurant and Bar

Together with No. 309, flanking Lopes Square, these buildings serves as a kind of gateway for the many thousands who arrive aboard the Boston boats. The Coffee Pot is a popular local hang-out and the Surf Club, until recently, held on to a rough-and-tumble, old-Provincetown patronage, many of whom came to hear the Provincetown Jug & Marching Band. The Surf Club formed an anti-gentry triumvirate with the Old Colony Tap, also owned by the Enos family, and the Governor Bradford. (In these joints, you’d never hear the word “triumvirate.”) More pictures and history»

323-325 Commercial Street

 
Old Colony Tap | Victor Powell’s Workshop

Chances are, you’re not neutral about the Old Colony; a legacy dive bar, if such a thing can be imagined. You may embrace it happily as a true surviving vestige of hardscrabble Provincetown and a good place to meet friends, away from the phoniness and pretense of neo-Ptown. Or you may shudder as you go by, especially when it’s evident through the plate-glass windows just who’s drinking long before the sun is over the yardarm. What’s beyond debate is that the Old Colony is a town institution, founded in 1937 by Manuel G. Cook and run since 1955 by the Enos family, who also own the Surf Club. More pictures and history»

336 Commercial Street

 
Sage Inn and Lounge

After the disastrous fire of 1990, Donald R. Edwards, whose family founded and still owns the Governor Bradford, rebuilt the Pilgrim House. While it occupies roughly the same footprint, in its new incarnation, the property was more about entertainment than accommodation, though it did have 20 guest rooms. More pictures and history»

359 Commercial Street

 
Mews Condominium | Luxories | Harbor Lounge | Patty Deluca Gallery | Century 21 Shoreland | Sophia Reznick Gallery | SS Cherry Vintage Clothing | Anathan Benson Group | Native Art

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»

463 Commercial Street

 
Flagship

The Flagship, with its renowned and utterly improbable dory bar, is one of those cherished institutions that’s missed even by people who never knew it. Built and used at first by the artist E. Ambrose Webster (pictured at left) as an instructional studio, it was for many years the place to dine and drink in the East End. Its history is interwoven with that of the Beachcombers next door, at 465A Commercial. Part pier shed, part foundry, part wharf, part studio, it’s hard to tell where the Flagship leaves off and where the Beachcombers begin. For a time in the 1930s, the Flagship catered the Beachcomber dinners, making the distinction between them even tougher to discern. But the spirit of the Flagship endures, though it’s a private home now. And as long as there’s a dory bar in place, there will always be a Flagship.


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4-6 Masonic Place

4 Masonic Place, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap. 
4 Masonic Place, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap.Atlantic House (A-House)

Though other venues occasionally rival or eclipse it in popularity, notoriety or renown, the Atlantic House has been — amazingly enough — a nexus of nightlife in Provincetown for more than half a century, ever since it was purchased in 1949 by the Cabral family, which continues to own it. April Cabral-Pitzner, one of Reginald W. Cabral’s daughters, is the current proprietor. The A-House is on almost every gay visitor’s first-time itinerary, whether he comes back a second time or not. And while most patrons probably have more urgent matters than civic history on their minds when they step into one of the three bars here, it also happens that this one of the longest-lived establishments in town. Even if you don’t remember much the next morning, this is still a place rich in memories. Imagine, for instance, the summer of 1955, when Billie Holiday, Eartha Kitt and Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, all headlined in the Cabaret Room within a month of one another. (Could most jazz clubs on West 52nd Street have made such a boast?) Oh, yes; on the other week that August, the legendary drummer Gene Krupa topped the bill.

4 Masonic Place, Provincetown (1955). Adevrtisements in The Provincetown Advocate from 18 August 1955 (Kitt), 1 September 1955 (Fitzgerald), and 4 August 1955 (Holiday). From Provincetown Online: The Advocate Live!, by the Provincetown Public Library. 

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67 Shank Painter Road

67 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (1978). Advertisement in the Provincetown Art Association and Museum Summer Catalog 1978. Courtesy of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. 
(Formerly) Piggy’s Dance Bar

To see Piggy’s in the daylight is like staying past last call, when fluorescent lights suddenly drain a room of anything resembling magic. For magic is what suffused this unprepossessing building in the 1970s, say those who knew it. Straights danced with gays. Lisbons danced with Bravas. Fish cutters danced with matte cutters. Piggy’s offered an exuberant — often bacchanalian — cross-section of town.

67 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap. 

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