221-223 Commercial Street

Seamen’s Bank

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»

274-276 Commercial Street

Former Seamen’s Savings Bank | Cabot’s Candy | Shell Shop

Salt-water taffy and seashells. You can almost hear Patti Page singing Old Cape Cod. But this substantial commercial building was not constructed as the unofficial headquarters of long-ago summertime fantasy. It was built in 1892, in Queen Anne style, as the headquarters of the Seamen’s Savings Bank, which occupied the building until 1964, when the new — and still current — headquarters opened at 221-223 Commercial Street. The tenants here are Cabot’s Candy of Cape Cod, owned and run since 1969 by Giovanni “John” Cicero (b 1943), and the Shell Shop, owned and run by Cynthia “Cindi” Gast, which has been in business since 1974. More pictures and history»

277-277A Commercial Street

Walter Welsh Council of the Knights of Columbus | Shor | Outer Cape Kites & Toys | Cape Cod Gourmet | Cafe Maria | Himalayan Handicrafts

Forget Town Hall. It might reasonably be argued that for a time in the mid-20th century, the real locus of political power in Provincetown was upstairs in this building, in the hall owned and used by the Walter Welsh Council (Council No. 2476) of the Knights of Columbus, and by the affiliated St. Peter’s Club. This was where the leaders of the Portuguese Roman Catholic community sat. And where they sat, there was the head of the table. For instance, when the Knights of Columbus publicly appealed to every business in town to close for three hours on the afternoon of Good Friday — as they did each year — it’s a safe bet that most proprietors complied, no matter their religious beliefs, if for no other reason than to keep the custom of Catholic shoppers. More pictures and history»

290 Commercial Street

Former First National Bank of Provincetown | Puzzle Me This

With its second-story pilasters supporting a proudly monumental pediment, 290 Commercial Street certainly looks at first glance like something more than your ordinary retail building. (Never mind the current hot-pink paint job.) Indeed it was: the First National Bank of Provincetown. The original structure, whose extent can be discerned from the bracketed portion of the side eaves, was constructed in 1854. Eugene O’Neill was among the bank’s customers, and his signature card survives. In 1921, the first floor of the structure was extended across the front lawn and up to the sidewalk line. The upper two floors were extended later. The bank remained here until 1950, when it opened its new headquarters at 170 Commercial Street. More pictures and history»

307 Commercial Street

Provincetown Chamber of Commerce | Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch | Lopes Square Variety | Shell Designs | Atlantic Accents | Bay State Cruise Company

Fittingly, the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce is situated just about dead center at the commercial heart of Commercial Street: Lopes Square. It was constructed as the Board of Trade Building and originally stood ever so slightly offshore on pilings, reached by a short gangway. Because town criers have long had a formal or informal relation to the board or the chamber, I’m using this entry to briefly cover their history. (Kenneth Lonergan, the most recent town crier, is pictured here at the centenary of the Pilgrim Monument.) More pictures and history, plus the town criers»

5 Holway Avenue

5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap. 
Charles "Stormy" Mayo, 5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap.Hiebert Marine Laboratory, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

“We believe that the successful management and preservation of ecosystems depends on strong, detailed knowledge of species and their natural history,” declares the mission statement of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1975 by Charles Atkins “Stormy” Mayo III (b 1943; pictured); his wife, Barbara Shuler Mayo (1945-1988); and Graham Giese (b 1931), senior scientist at the center and oceanographer emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The coastal center’s headquarters are at 115 Bradford Street, but it is out on the waters of the Gulf of Maine — and here in this building — that its core work is done.

5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown (2008), by David W. Dunlap.

Research Vessel Ibis, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.

More pictures and history»

3 Jerome Smith Road

Frank Silva, William Marshall, Frank Meads, Bill Cabral and Frank Fratus, Provincetown (1917). 
3 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap.Lewis A. Young Post, No. 3152, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Look at those faces. These are just a few of the men who enlisted in the Navy in May 1917. Not the Portuguese Navy; the United States Navy. It’s a stirring testament that men with intimate ties to their seaside town but almost no cultural bonds to the nation in which they lived should have responded so quickly a month after President Woodrow Wilson declared war. (By the end of World War I, 319 residents of this small town had enlisted in the armed forces.) The ethnic composition also set the tenor of this post, which has long ranked among the more important Portuguese-American social institutions, though it is by no means exclusively so.

3 Jerome Smith Road, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.

More pictures and history»