This site has been hopping since 1938. For most of those years, it was home to Manuel Cabral’s Bonnie Doone Restaurant and Thistle Cocktail Lounge, a popular gay rendezvous in the 1950s. In 1958, Cabral tore down the neighboring Conant Street School, which had been used for about 25 years as the headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, to add parking spaces for the restaurant. Picture essay and more history »
Gulf Oil Gas Station
The Bradford-Standish intersection is downtown Provincetown’s utilitarian heart: two service stations (with convenience stores attached) and a former garage and car dealership. Like many old Gulf installations, the Gulf Oil Gas Station at 130 Bradford Street has a Colonial Revival motif. Hubert and Laura Summers owned this property until 1958 and ran a popular restaurant, It’s Hubert’s, which also doubled as the Provincetown bus terminal. They sold the parcel to Gulf Oil. Marcey’s Service Station soon opened, under Edward “Marcey” Salvador, whose name is still commemorated in the oil company. Salvador sold the gas station to James J. Cordeiro, who turned it over to his son Neil Cordeiro to run. It was known then as Neil’s Gulf Service Station. Picture essay and more history »
The Old Colony depot saw a second life as a bus station in the 1940s. In 1950, Joseph Duarte replaced it with a garage and service station for Duarte Motors, his Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealership. (The rear of the building is a modestly handsome International-style pavilion.) More pictures and history»
This Second Empire-style house (c1870/1875) loomed large over the railyard. Menalkas Duncan, a prominent leather crafter (and Isadora Duncan’s nephew), bought it in 1955 and used it as the Duncan Sandal Shop. It’s since been an office, the Provincetown Fabric Shop, and a flower shop, which Maghi Geary and Laura Darsch acquired in 1988 and renamed Provincetown Florist. Picture essay and more history »
Against a tradition of impromptu theater spaces, a purpose-built playhouse opened in June 2004 in the reconstructed Provincetown Mechanics garage (formerly Cape End Motors). It is now the 130-to-145-seat Provincetown Theater. It was developed by the Provincetown Theater Foundation as a home for the Provincetown Theatre Company (founded 1963) and the Provincetown Repertory Theatre (founded 1995), and designed by Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber of Yarmouthport. More pictures and history »
Carver Court, a little midblock passage formerly known as Court Place, is very close to the Gifford House. In fact, the Gifford family was connected with this property until 1913, when it was acquired by Margaret J. Ramos, who owned it until 1929. She and her husband sold the house that year to Betty Lockett Spencer, the wife of the prominent precisionist painter Niles Spencer (1893-1952). To my eyes, anyway, Spencer’s enormously appealing work combines Stuart Davis’s joyful cubism with Charles Sheeler’s sharp focus on industrial landscapes. His rendition of the Unitarian-Universalist Meeting House is an enduringly fresh take on that beautiful — but clichéd — icon. Even more delightful a surprise is Spencer’s take on the scrolled bracket over a doorway. Both Universalist Church, Provincetown and Provincetown Corner are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Spencer had a studio in the former shirt factory at 26 Court Street, but he was using this house in the 1930s and perhaps until the early ’40s, when he and Betty were divorced. His death merited an obituary in The New York Times.
By 1946, Betty’s new husband, Ernest L. Perry, a native of São Miguel in the Azores, had set up his public accountancy practice at 3 Carver Court, offering bookkeeping, auditing, and income tax preparation; as well as help with Social Security, withholding and unemployment claims. He died six months after Spencer, in November 1952. His business telephone number, 31, was perpetuated as her home phone number, 487-0031, after Provincetown switched to automated dialing.
In 1982, following Betty Perry’s death, the property passed to the couple’s two daughters, Doris and Muriel, and their husbands, Ralph J. Westnedge and Charles Veloza. Veloza’s estate sold 3 Carver Street in 2013 to Scott Watters and Richard D. Porreca, a residential and commercial construction project manager and an illustrator whose pen-and-ink line drawings of Provincetown architecture can seen on the Facebook page, Inked Well Illustrations.
Porreca told me in 2015 that he and Watters had found pieces of Spencer’s artwork in the attic of the home and, during a renovation, evidence that the house had been constructed on a foundation of ship’s masts.