The West End Inn, an unusually large Greek Revival house at 44 Commercial Street, looks — appealingly — as if it’s almost all windows. According to the proprietors, it was built in the 1840s as a captain’s house. The historic district survey dates it at 1855. Embert Gibbs, a paper hanger and painter (of the utilitarian variety), lived here in the 1930s and 40s. His daughter Adelaide gave piano lessons, so the house must have been filled with music, even if occasionally off-key. Twenty years ago, the house was called the Bed ’n B’fast. It is now the seven-bedroom West End Inn. It describes itself as being owned and run by gay men, mostly for men.
Jones Locker Condominium
For a period in the 1970s, when Provincetown was at its nonconformist zenith, a neo-Classical belfry, topped by a tapering cupola and whale windvane, stood outside (or very near) 45 Commercial Street. You can get a good glimpse of it inside the back cover of Provincetown Discovered (1986), by Edmund V. Gillon Jr. The remarkably out-of-place structure was also photographed in 1976 by Josephine Del Deo as part of the Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory. Could it have been associated with the Shore Studio Gallery next door at 47 Commercial Street? I’m eager to learn more. More pictures and history»
The Labrador Landing Condominium at 47 Commercial Street occupies a large 1835 structure that distinguished for its dimensions early on: it was the only two-story house on Long Point, where it belonged to John Williams. In 1947, Donald F. Witherstine opened the Shore Studio Gallery. It was one of the first and most important commercial galleries in town. “We could use the amazing Mr. Witherstine in 57th Street also,” Edward Alden Jewell wrote in The New York Times that year. “He is a force, a whiz, a conflagration.” More pictures and history»
The Twin Bays studio apartments at 49 Commercial Street is one of the most immaculately maintained houses in the West End. Passers-by in summertime can count on seeing its window boxes in profuse bloom. There are twin bay windows on the ground floor and unusual twin attic windows. Built around 1820, this was the home on Long Point of Prince Freeman. It was in the center of the settlement, on the shores of Lobster Plain. George S. Payne, an artist who depicted old wharves and fish houses in the late 19th century, once owned this house. More pictures»
Prince Freeman Apartments
Nathaniel Freeman lived in this modest house, built in 1818 in the center of the Long Point community. Catherine and Edward Dahill opened the Prince Freeman Apartments in 1949, taking the name from the first baby born at Long Point. Now called the Prince Freeman Westend Waterfront Compound, 51 Commercial Street continues to be run and owned by the Dahill family. More pictures»
Stephen Nickerson, who built this house on the shoreline around 1790, is thought to have been one of the wealthier residents of town. There was no Commercial Street at the time. The house simply faced the harbor. The 1807 House, as it was known until 2009, took its name from the year in which it was supposed that Nickerson moved the building upland to its current location at 54 Commercial Street, thereby creating space to service his whaling business. More pictures and history»
“Tod Lindenmuth should know the meaning of Provincetown,” The New York Times declared in 1927. “For years he has been absorbing the jumble of its wharves and streets and resolving it into unified compositions in wood-block prints and paintings.” And for 15 of those years — from 1925 to 1940 — he and his wife, the illustrator Elizabeth Boardman Warren (1886-1980), lived at 56 Commercial Street, which was built in the 1840s and still shows a lot of handsome Greek Revival detail. Lindenmuth left a handful of unsigned studies in the house. They are still in the hands of Margaret and Donald Murphy, whose family has owned the property since 1954 and rents out Lindenmuth’s studio and a comfortable two-story former salt shed under the name Our Summer Place. (More than one guest over the years must have taken satisfaction from honestly telling friends, “Oh, we’re just going to Our Summer Place on the Cape.”) More pictures and history
According to Steve Silberman, whose family vacationed here for 40 years, “The original guest house bore the name the Galley, and then the Viewpoint, and was owned by the cookbook author Hazel Meyer and her partner Alice Bartoli, and then by Donald and Joan Morse, before being bought and torn down by the current owners.” In the 1950s, the Galley Shop was operated at this address by “Cap’ns” Dick Knudson and Jim Flag. More pictures and history»
This was the property of Edward O. Weeks at the turn of the 20th century, when it was denominated 50 Commercial Street.
This small wharf was the property of Daniel Williams at the turn of the century, when it was denominated 54 Commercial Street. More pictures»
No matter whether you’ve ever set foot here, the quirky, odd-angled, salt-crusted, sea-infused Captain Jack’s Wharf has almost undoubtedly helped form your mental picture of Provincetown. Even now, its eccentric and ramshackle charm seems largely intact, though a consultation with its asking rates will quickly dispel any idea that this is still a Bohemian paradise. Captain Jack — Jackson R. Williams — was born in Provincetown in 1861. He was a fisherman through the 1880s. He applied to the commonwealth in 1897 to build a 100-foot wharf from his property at 73½ Commercial Street. He later added 100 more feet. Then he began to cater to the tourist trade. More pictures and history»
For more than a century, since 1910, the Valentines have accommodated transient guests at the family home on Commercial Street — qualifying for some kind of record in hospitality. The Valentines’ story is also woven through that of the fishery, and — like so many families tied to the sea — they have known their share of great sorrow. In January 1941, Antone Francis Valentine (also known as Anthony), then around 60 years old, lost his life when the 90-foot trawler Mary E. O’Hara sank in Boston Harbor after hitting an anchored barge. More pictures and history»
Across the street from the Pied, a landmark of lesbian history, stands the Ranch, a 20-room gay landmark that is — happily — not much changed since it was opened in 1960 by Alton J. “Al” Stilson (1923-2010). Cheerfully rebuking buttoned-up, tasteful A-gaydom, the Ranch makes it clear that frisky guests are expected and welcome; beards, chaps and all. “The lusty vibe pervades the entire establishment,” OutTraveler said. Off the Ranch, Stilson may not be much remembered, but he played a very important role in 1977, when the Ranch was only one of three guest houses — the Coat of Arms and George’s Inn being the others — to participate in the first Carnival parade. A year later, the proprietors of those three houses formed the “founding nucleus” of the Provincetown Business Guild, Sandra L. Faiman-Silva wrote in The Courage to Connect: Sexuality, Citizenship and Community in Provincetown (University of Illinois Press, 2004). More pictures and history»
On a summer’s night, the Crown & Anchor can’t be missed. In fact, it can’t be ignored. Not only is it one of P-town’s most prominent facades, with its grand columned portico and tower, but performers from the Cabaret — usually in drag — boisterously regale passers-by. The hotel business is a sideline; this is the town’s “largest entertainment complex,” true to its roots in the mid-19th century, when Timothy P. Johnson built the Central House (its first name) as a public hall for shows and entertainment, a bowling alley and — quite as important — a saloon. More pictures and history»
Lotus Guest House | Body Body
A two-and-a-half story shingled commercial structure, with a prominent polygonal corner turret, that was built around 1900 in Queen Anne style. This building would be best remembered by old-timers — real old-timers — as the Cutler Pharmacy. An early use of the word “gay” as a synonym for homosexual can be found in a 1951 anecdote told by “Bossy” McGady in his uninhibited newspaper column: “A ‘Gay Boy’ dashes into Cutler’s, in an awful tizzy, forgot the new eye brow pencil ‘it’ had just purchased.” (“Up Along and Down Along, The Advocate, 16 August 1951.) In the 1970s, this was a restaurant known as Mother Marion’s. It is currently the Lotus Guest House, owned and run by Jeff and Gurli Lovinger. More pictures and hsitory»
Now the Moffett House Inn bed-and-breakfast, this charmingly situated house was built around 1820 in the Federal style. The home of Ross Moffett and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett “was used by them for over 50 years as a residence and painting studio,” Josephine Del Deo wrote. “Although Moffett painted in several other locations until 1964, his wife used the premises for her work as a painter and illustrator during most of the period from 1933 to 1975. Ross Moffett was one of the deans of American painting and lived in Provincetown from 1913 to his death in 1971.” He was the author of Art in Narrow Streets (1964), an account of the development of the art scene in Provincetown in the early 20th century, which you can still find in local bookstores. More pictures and history»
Known in the 1980s as the Gull Walk Inn, it is currently the Secret Garden Inn.
The Pilgrim House did not accommodate the first visitors, for whom it was named. But it did open for business around 1810 and counted Henry David Thoreau among its guests. (Not an especially satisfied guest, as a page from his 1857 journal makes amusingly clear.) The original structure, set so far back from the street that there was room for a gazebo or bandstand in its front yard, might have dated to the late 1700s. Though much transformed, it managed to last until October 1990, when it was destroyed in a four-alarm blaze that required more than 100 firefighters from seven Cape towns to extinguish and injured more than a dozen people. More pictures and history»
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»
The Captain’s House, tucked at the end of a narrow walkway off Commercial Street, is a bed-and-breakfast with 12 rooms. Until the 2012 season, under the owner Michael P. Stetto, it catered to gay men generally and to “bears” in particular — typically hirsute, heavier set men whose appearance and demeanor is consciously the opposite of the hairless, lithe gay archetype. The new owners are Peter C. Bullis and Mauricio J. Zuleta. “It no longer caters to just bears and gay men, but it’s for everyone,” Bullis told me in August 2012. “The name will stay the same.” ¶ Updated 2012-08-21
Angels’ Landing (West buildings) | Café Dinara
Three buildings spill down to the waterfront from behind 353 Commercial Street. There is a little commercial unit on the square that has seen one coffee shop open after another in recent years. In this picture, taken in 2008, it was Cicchetti’s Espresso Bar, proferring “coffees and tiny nibbles.” That didn’t last long. By 2010, it was Mayorga’s Coffee Shop. Also gone. As of 2011, it was the Café Dinara. More pictures and history»
The Angela of Angel’s Landing was no angel — certainly not in the eyes of America’s photojournalists or its political left wing. She was Angela Calomiris (1916-1995), the daughter of Greek immigrants and a member of the celebrated Photo League in New York City. On 26 April 1949, she stunned her colleagues when she appeared at the trial of 11 Communists accused of plotting to overthrow the government and disclosed that she’d been an undercover agent of the F.B.I. since 1942. 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»
Stephen Cook (1817-1888), whose house this was — that’s his fourth wife, the former Jennifer E. Churchill, at left — was a significant figure in the development of Provincetown and especially of this neighborhood, where he possessed not only this conspicuous dwelling but storehouses across the road and, beyond them, a wharf at what is now 381 Commercial Street. This business was passed on to his nephew, George O. Knowles (b 1842), whose mother, Delia (1821-1898), was Stephen Cook’s sister. Cook was a longtime officer of the First National Bank and served as its president for the last 11 years of his life, at which time the bank’s stock was trading at its highest price ever. More pictures and history»
Bull Ring Wharf | Kidstuff
Above the storefront, the wonderfully plain facade of No. 381 attests to its utilitarian origins as a store house at the foot of the George O. Knowles Wharf property. The original wharf, then owned by the Higgins Lumber Company, was destroyed in 1926 when the Coast Guard cutter USCG Morrill drifted amok during a powerful storm. Higgins continued to own the property until 1948, when it was purchased by Thomas A. “Tommy” Francis and his wife, Deola. They ran it as the Bull Ring Apartments, succeeded in 1962 Munroe G. Moore and his wife, Mary. 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»
“Captain Lavender’s Deck” at the Waterford is not some sort of coy code to entice gay patrons. No, this property once was home to Captain Lavender — in fact, the Captains Lavender: Robert M. Lavender (1847-1928) and Stephen S. Lavender (1852-1910), who appears to have been Robert’s younger uncle. (Stephen’s much older brother, Capt. Joseph A. Lavender, was Robert’s father. Joseph was lost at sea in 1870.) The family came from Nova Scotia, as did Robert’s wife, Louisa J. (1847-1920), herself a remarkable woman. More pictures and history»
Technically, 392 Commercial Street doesn’t exist any longer. It’s part of a unified parcel with 386 Commercial Street. But it is such a distinctively individual building — as it was originally — that it gets its own entry; at least enough of one to note that it served as an adjunct to the Gray Inn, run from 1931 to 1946 by David L. Allen, then after 1946 by Jere Snader. It has also played an annex role for the successors to Gray, including the Ocean’s Inn, the Commons and the Waterford. Other commercial tenants included Polly’s Powder Puff in the late 1930s.
White Caps Rooms and Apartments
In the first half of the 20th century, when there were few women doctors to be found anywhere in America, Provincetown had at least three — surely a great many more per capita than almost any settlement in the country. Dr. J. M. Winslow, an osteopathic physician, had her office here in the early 1930s.
Jessica and Joseph Lema Jr. lived here as newlyweds until they moved in 1939 to 10 Cudworth Street, where Mrs. Lema was still living more than 70 years later. A store called Tribal Offerings was here in the early 2000s, followed in 2003 by the Backshore Gallery, founded and run by Peter Clemons and Marianne Benson. More pictures and history
Lucy Cross House (Casa Lucia da Cruz)
Early in the new year of 1919, Aylmer and Katie Small sold this house to Primo and Lucia da Cruz (Lucy Cross). It has been in the family ever since. Their daughter, Maria da Cruz (Mary Cross), married Preston Grant “Pat” Hall. The couple lived at 396 Commercial Street; operated the Souvenir Shop at 286 Commercial; the Gift Box at 397 Commercial; and, also at 397 Commercial, Pat’s Happy Parking and the Cinnamon Sands cottage. More pictures and history»
Originally the Capt. William Bush house and once known as the Ship Apartments or Tall Ship Apartments, this building has changed astonishingly little in 35 years, as two pictures below (one taken by Josephine Del Deo in 1977) clearly show. Manuel F. “Pat” Patrick and Hilda Patrick owned the Ship Apartments in the 1940s and ’50s, when the best-known resident was Francis J. “Bossy” McGady (±1897-1952), whose “Up Along and Down Along” column in The Advocate conjured every week the voice of an Irishman who had grown up as the child of an innkeeper in Worcester, played football as a tramp athlete for any number of colleges he didn’t attend, More pictures and history»
BayShore No. 20 (Iota)
In English, jot is derived from iota — meaning the smallest bit. In Provincetown, Iota is derived from Jot — meaning Jonathan C.”Jot” Small (±1876-1952), boatbuilder extraordinaire, Arctic traveler and, for a time in the 1930s, proprietor of a restaurant called Jot’s Galley here at 490 Commercial. The cottage served a commercial purpose before and after Small’s tenure, as Flora Winslow DeLaurier’s Bob Shoppe, a hair salon, in the 1920s and as Manuel F. Patrick’s Iota Package Store (read: liquor) in the 1940s. More pictures and history»
There were giants in town. Dr. Frederick S. Hammett (±1886-1953) was among them. Internationally known for his research in cellular growth — research aimed specifically at finding the possible causes and, by extension, the cure for cancer — Hammett was also a devoted Beachcomber, known for his remarkable outfits in the annual costume balls, and at one time the president of the Provincetown Art Association. This was his home. It was also home a decade later to Harold Goodstein. He commissioned the architect Donald Jasinski, designer of the remarkable Farfalla cottage at 236R Bradford Street (otherwise known as the “Mushroom House”), to renovate the building. The project won the admiring attention of House Beautiful magazine in 1967, especially for the staircase in the double-height living room, leading up to a loft bedroom. More pictures and history»
Though the BayShore’s courtyard is private, an arched breezeway between 495 Commercial and 493 Commercial offers anyone who walks by a spectacularly framed glimpse of the harbor. Intended as such or not, it is a welcome little civic gesture, since the impulse to wall off the waterfront for private enjoyment runs strong. Then again, there has always been a strong upland-to-shoreline connection at this property, since it was once Brown’s Bathing Beach. (See 497 Commercial.) And this was Mary Brown’s rooming house. It is now managed by Ann Maguire and Harriet Gordon as part of a multi-unit complex that includes 493 Commercial, 490 Commercial, 481 Commercial and 77 Commercial.
White Horse Inn
Behind the familiar yellow door is the White Horse Inn, which borrows its name from the Greenwich Village tavern of Bohemian fame. The White Horse Tavern was a favorite of Frank D. Schaefer (d 2007), a German immigrant, “a patron of artists, a fine photographer and a man of immaculate taste,” as Philip Hoare eulogized him in 2007. Importantly for our story, Schaefer was also a friend of the artist Jackson Lambert, who brought him to Provincetown in 1962. A year later, Schaefer bought 500 Commercial from Sigrid Gudmunds. He and Lambert set about creating a hostelry that has been compared more than once to a Joseph Cornell box. More pictures and history»
The Old Homestead, originally constructed around 1850, once served as guest house, according to a description by its current owner, Paul van Apeldoorn, on the HomeAway site. He bought the property in 1993 from the Canavan family, which had owned it since the death in 1946 of Capt. Frank L. Rich, who had once been the sexton of St. Mary’s Church across the street.
But that’s not what the people of Provincetown call it. Even those far too young to understand the reference call this double-barreled motel, stretching some 200 feet along both sides of Commercial Street, the “Green Monster.” The construction in 1964 of a four-story commercial structure on the beachfront (a three-story upland companion was to follow) so alarmed the town that a new zoning by-law was quickly enacted — while the motel was under construction, in fact — capping the height of future buildings at two-and-a-half stories, or 35 feet. Opponents of the Surfside even attempted to persuade Barnstable Superior Court to apply the height limit retroactively and compel demolition of the upper part of the motel. That’s how unpopular it was. More pictures and history»
Members of the Mayo family have owned No. 570 for more than a century, and have run it as an accommodation at least since the 1930s, when it was called Mayo’s Cape Codder. At the time, Charles Atkins Mayo (b 1885) lived here with his wife, Mary A. Mayo (b 1886). Mayo was a fisherman whose son, Charles A. Mayo Jr. (b 1910), was nationally renowned for his pursuit of the giant bluefin. In 1962, Mayo Jr. was described by Sports Illustrated as “perhaps the finest tuna skipper on the Atlantic coast.” The Cape Codder is now owned by his son, Charles Atkins “Stormy” Mayo III (b 1943), a founder of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies who currently directs its right whale habitat studies. More pictures and history»
Eleanor Roosevelt slept here. And not before or after, either, but while she was First Lady. This little-known episode, long overshadowed by the stories of Jacqueline Kennedy’s evening visit in 1961, occurred on Tuesday, 1 October 1940. It was a very grim moment in world affairs that seemed to point ever more inevitably to global war: Germany, Japan and Italy had just days earlier signed the tripartite agreement creating the Axis. And the presidential election was only a month away. Roosevelt, The Advocate reported, had come to Provincetown for a “short respite … from telephones, turmoil and other distractions.” The First Lady was accompanied only by her private secretary, Malvina “Tommy” Thompson, and was at the wheel herself as they drove up to the Colonial Inn around five o’clock. More pictures and history»
Apartments? Plural? At first glance, No. 597 looks like a cozy bungalow, far too small to be a multi-unit accommodation. But the waterside view tells a different story. It is, in fact, a good-sized building. And the wonderful border collie on the signpost tells part of the story. It’s my guess that the dog in question is Bandit, beloved of John A. Lisbon (1949-2011), a contractor who lived here with his wife, Linda S. Lisbon. John’s father, Joseph Lisbon, was a fisherman who skippered the Francis Elizabeth in the mid-1950s. Linda Lisbon continues to own and run the apartments. More pictures and history»
Like so many beachfront properties, the Watermark Inn presents two very different faces to the world. On the Commercial Street side, it appears to be a complex of modest older buildings around a sweet little courtyard, not too far removed from its days as the Colonial Inn Beach House (photo at right). But on the water side, it is a glassy, angular, modern expanse, designed by Kevin Shea, who owns the inn. More pictures and history»
For three decades, until 1980 [?], this was the White Dory inn, which was run for the last 10 years by William Ray “Bill” Ingraham (1927-2008), pictured at left, and his husband, Raymond Sparks. (They were together a half century before getting married in 2007.) A 1976 guide, written while they were the proprietors, said of the White Dory: “The comforts of a fine motel, and the warmth and friendliness of a Cape Cod guest house.” Ingraham was a carpenter and woodworker, an electrician, and a professional firefighter. He served as clerk of the works for a number of key municipal construction and renovation projects, and was the town electrical inspector from 1972 to 1996. More pictures and history»
What was it that Mom used to say … “Keep something around long enough and it’s sure to come back into fashion”? (Or was it just, “Keep something around long enough?”) In any case, as unlikely as it would have seemed a few years ago, Provincetown’s old Holiday Inn survived long enough — after an intermediate phase as the Best Inn and the Cape Inn — to be appreciated for a midcentury vibe, permitting its renascence in 2011 as the Harbor Hotel, under the ownership of Finard Properties of Boston and Turnstone Property. “The hotel’s architecture, with its long horizontal lines and abundant glass, allows it to be repositioned as a sleek, stylish resort,” their prospectus said in 2010.
The Breakwater Motel, one of the first in Provincetown, marks its 60th anniversary in 2013. In an era when travelers are supposed to care about the thread count in their sheets, its pitch is refreshingly modest: “The perfect choice if you are on a budget and just need a clean tidy room in a great location.” (The rates in 2012 ranged from $65 a night off-season to $175 a night in season.) Perhaps it was its location at the edge of town that kept the Breakwater from being a lightning rod when it was constructed in 1953 by Dick Bishop of Elizabeth, N.J., and Carl Bradley of Cranston, R.I. More pictures and history»
“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»
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»
Sandcastle Resort and Club Annex
This appears to be a classic old Shore Drive motel, but I’ve had no luck so far identifying its builder, its date or its original name(s). The assessor dates it at 1940. That strikes me as early. Certainly, though, you’d expect an 11-room, L-shaped motel like this to have been built in the late ’40s or early ’50s. The parcel includes a fairly broad neck connecting it to the beach. By the summer of 2008, the building looked as decrepit as it appears in this photo. That fall, it was acquired by New England Vacation Management Services, the company controlled by Clifford Hagberg that now runs the adjacent Sandcastle time-share complex.
Bayberry Bend Condominium (Motel)
Bayberry Bend: It’s a motor inn. No, it’s a cottage colony. Stop! You’re both right. Bayberry Bend was both a motel and a tourist court (910 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.