25-27A Bradford Street


Former Barnstormers’ Theater / Former Skipper Raymond’s Cottages

In a town full of wild structures, this amazing relic at 27A Bradford Street (c1915) is one of the wildest: a shingled fly loft for a theater that was integral to the early 20th-century Provincetown renaissance. Frank Shay, an editor and bookseller, belonged to the original Provincetown Players. In 1924, in a bid to keep the spirit of the Players alive after the troupe moved to New York, he converted his barn into the Barnstormers’ Theater. More pictures and history »

54 Bradford Street

Shank Painter Condominium

The Shank Painter Condominium, as its name suggests, is oriented largely to Shank Painter Road, though it has the street address 54 Bradford Street. A small cottage colony has stood here since 1940. In the 1960s, was known as the Brown Cottages, which were evidently superintended by Clayton F. Enos (b 1927). A 1965 narcotics raid on the cottages netted 11 young men and women, one of whom was charged with “lewd and lascivious cohabitation.” Seventeen condo units were listed on this lot in 2008. In the late 1950s, a photo studio called Candids by Carter did business at 54 Bradford Street. The longtime commercial tenant of recent years is Salon 54. [Updated 2012-05-14]

7 Commercial Street

 
Delft Haven

Delft Haven, the prettiest tourist cottage colony in town, was begun around 1934 by Ralph S. Carpenter, the retired general manager of the Caribbean Sugar Company of Cuba, who lived at 11 Commercial Street. He named the project for the harbor town in Holland from which the Pilgrims had set sail. Carpenter was among the first hosts to try catering to tourists with amenities. “The rest of the world enjoys a bath once in a while,” he said in 1937. “More than anything else, the town needs bathrooms and better beds.” Delft Haven sits astride the road, with one complex at 7 Commercial Street and another at 10 Commercial Street, and is very conscientiously maintained. More pictures»

857 Commercial Street

 
Ainsworth Cottages

“Everyone deserves a vacation — you don’t gouge people,” Prof. Joshua Arthur “J.A.” Ainsworth liked to say. That was how he and his family have run the nine Ainsworth Cottages at Beach Point since 1957. They are modest almost to the point of being primitive, but in this way they’re a far truer expression of old Cape Cod than the well-appointed hotels in town. And the only thing between the Ainsworths’ guests and the sea is the beach. That is why they come back year after year. More pictures and history»

881 Commercial Street

 
Beachcomber Colony Condominiums

Now, this is my idea of a 1920s tourist court — or call it a cottage colony or an auto camp: seven Lilliputian houses gathered in a cozy U. It could almost have served as the location set for the “walls of Jericho” scene in It Happened One Night. (Five points for you if you understand the reference at all; 10 bonus points if you recall that the fictional setting for that scene was Dyke’s Auto Camp.) Tourist courts were the forerunners of the motel. They sprang up nationwide in the 1920s and ’30s as travelers relied increasingly on their own automobiles. More pictures and history»

892 Commercial Street

 
Beach Point Village Condominium

“Miss Pearl Sawyer and her brothers, Carl and Warren Sawyer, of Medford, are at their Beach Point Village for the summer.” From the 1940s through the 1960s, notices like this could be found in The Advocate every spring. The Sawyers were as dependable as the tides. And every fall, just as surely, the three siblings were reported as closing up their cottage colony at 892 Commercial and returning to Medford for the winter. The property was subsequently owned by Frank M. Tortora, who seems to have sponsored its 1983 condo conversion. More pictures and history»

898 Commercial Street (12 Commodore Avenue)

 
Mayflower Cottages

This cottage colony, which straddles both sides of Commodore Avenue, is one of the few left in town still open as a transient accommodation. The Commodore Avenue parcel has been owned since 1968 by Klara E. Mueller, or Muller (b 1931), who is also the proprietor of the Mayflower Apartments at 6 Bangs Street. The property had been owned since 1954 by Wallace McPhail. In 1989, Mueller acquired the Commercial Street parcel. More pictures»

910 Commercial Street

Bayberry Bend Condominium (Cottages)

Bayberry Bend: It’s a cottage colony. No, it’s a motor inn. Stop! You’re both right. Bayberry Bend was both a tourist court and a motel (928 Commercial). Darwin H. Melis (1908-1988) and his wife, Catherine F. Melis, offered automobile travelers a choice as they approached town along what was then known as Shore Drive. “Bayberry Bend Motel and Cottages” were advertised in The Advocate as early as September 1960, suggesting that the business was begun in the 1950s. In the early 60s, the Melises also operated the Donut Shoppe on Shank Painter Road. They sold Bayberry Bend in 1968. Four years later, Elizabeth and Donald Lukens sponsored the condo conversion.

963 Commercial Street

 
Beach Point Club

Liz slept here. That Liz. In September 1957, with her third husband, the producer Michael Todd, who was to die six months later in the crash of his private plane, the only one of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands whom she didn’t divorce. The Todds spent an evening at the Harbor Lights Village cottage colony as the guests of Thomas and May O’Donnell. More pictures and history»

52 Creek Road

52 Creek Road, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap. 
52 Creek Road, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap.Formerly Amelia’s Little Cottages

Readers of Provincetown: From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort by Karen Christel Krahulik will quickly recognize Amelia (Rego) Carlos (1910-1998), who opens the book as the personification of town residents who rented bedrooms and out buildings to visiting tourists, many of them gay or lesbian. “Through these boarding houses,” Krahulik wrote, “Portuguese women built trusting relationships with gay men and women, and helped facilitate Provincetown’s 20th-century transformation from a fishing seaport to a vacation destination.” Formerly designated 29 Mechanic Street, this was the home of Madame Carlos, or Mother Superior, as some guests called her affectionately. More pictures and history»

21 Dewey Avenue

21 Dewey Avenue, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap. 
Cottage 8, 21 Dewey Avenue, Provincetown (2008)-02Waterside Condominium

The Waterside cottage colony consists of five 240-square-foot cottages, virtually identical, in a neat row paralleling Dewey Avenue, but set back a bit. They were built around 1950. Between them and the street are two larger houses and two other small cottages. The owner of Cottage No. 8 (pictured in the inset photo) rents it by the week through Provincetown Vacation Rentals. More history»

15 Howland Street

Harry Kemp Cottage, 15 Howland Street, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap. 
Paul Tasha, 15 Howland Street, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.Tasha Hill (or Tasha Village)

Not that the Tasha family set out to create such a thing when they bought this enormous property in 1944, but their sprawling compound has a mystical feeling at times, as if it were a fantastic movie set depicting ur-Provincetown — not a literal rendering, of course, but a three-dimensional expression of the old town’s spirit: dense, communal, primitive and modest; inventive, ingenious, improvised and eccentric; romantic or shabby or mysterious, depending on your angle of vision and the time of day. Also, this must be one of the last places in town where residents can hear chickens from their bedrooms. Presiding over the compound these days is Paul D. Tasha (b 1952; pictured), a fisherman and horseman; the youngest child of Herman J. Tasha (1908-2000) and Rose “Sonny” (Savage) Tasha (1910-1994), who moved here from 222 Bradford Street, and a grandson of John Tasha (±1874-1954), who moved to Provincetown from São Miguel in the Azores. Significantly — and appropriately — Tasha Hill was also the last home of Harry Kemp, the Poet of the Dunes (1883-1960), whose cottage is shown in the above photo. Hazel Hawthorne Werner (1901-2000), the writer and author of Salt House (1934), also lived here. More pictures and history»

36A Pearl Street

36A Pearl Street, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap. 
Channing Wilroy, 36A Pearl Street, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap.After Baltimore, Provincetown is probably the community with which John Waters is most closely associated. And Waters himself spends summers here. But only one member of his old Dreamland troupe actually settled in Provincetown for the long haul following the crazy years of the 60s. That was — and is — Channing Wilroy (b 1940), who has owned a cottage colony at the end of the Pearl Street cul-de-sac since at least 1984. The grounds are landscaped with more than a touch of whimsy: a traffic light, a little windmill, old traffic signs. There is some poetic justice to all this, since the proprietor of the cottages in the late 1960s, Carl Feldman, made it clear that eccentricity wasn’t tolerated at 36A Pearl. “No hippies or beatniks desired,” he said in a 1967 ad in The Advocate for a “knotty-pine-panelled cabin situated in a gay, natural setting.” More pictures and history»

20 Race Road

No picture yet.Race Road Condominium

Emma L. (Smith) Marshall (b ±1893), who grew up at 11 Pleasant Street, and her husband, Joseph A. Marshall (b ±1894), together ran the Fishermen’s Market at 128 Bradford Street. In 1952, they bought a number of properties, including this cluster of four buildings, from John Agna. Emma’s great-niece, Wendy Hankins, told me in 2013 that Bette Davis had stayed here in her youth. (Among the places where Davis was supposed to have appeared was the Barnstormers’ Theater, 27A Bradford Street.) More history»

36 Shank Painter Road

36 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap. 
36 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.Shank Painter Common Condominium | Fireside Insurance Agency | Comcast

This cottage colony on the edge of Shank Painter Pond seems to date from the ’50s or early ’60s. Jeff Knudsen, who bought Unit 18 in 2012 with his spouse, Michael Schwartz, has been doing some investigating of his own. He spotted no evidence of the complex in a 1956 photograph of Shank Painter Road and said that neighbors recall the cottages going up sometime around 1960. There is a reference in the 1987 Chamber of Commerce guide to Silva’s Apartments and Cottages at 34 Shank Painter Road. But that was five years after Marilyn J. Downey and John W. Downey set up the condominium trust. The Downeys were onetime proprietors of the Shamrock Motel and Cottages at 49 Bradford Street. More pictures»