90 Commercial Street

Former Seamen’s Savings Bank

For the first three decades of its existence, from the 1830s through the 1860s, the building at 90 Commercial Street was the Union Exchange, serving the large and busy Union Wharf. It was purchased in 1868 by the Seamen’s Savings Bank, which was then across the road, at No. 99. The bank remained here until 1892, serving many Long Point transplants before moving to 276 Commercial Street. When the New York art dealer Harry Salpeter opened a gallery here in 1954, he was told by Frank Roza, then the owner of the building, that he’d discovered a small cache of Portuguese coins. Ten years later, Romanos Rizk applied to operate an art school here.

170 Commercial Street

 
Joe Coffee & Cafe | Bravo!
This plain commercial building, constructed for the First National Bank of Provincetown and designed by Hutchins & French of Boston, replaced the second Centenary Church. It opened in 1950. Twelve years later, the bank began offering drive-in services here. It was known in later years as the Shawmut Bank and TD BankNorth. It now houses the Bravo! mens clothing — though not too much of it — store and Joe Coffee & Cafe, which moved here from 148A Commercial. More pictures and history»

182 Commercial Street

Snip Salon | Ptown Massage + Bodywork

Just the shape of this building — never mind the retail overhaul of its front facade — should tip you off to its great age. A peek around the side, where there are half windows under the eaves, confirms the suspicion. The Historic District Survey places its construction roughly in 1830. F. Ronald Fowler (b 1946) — realist landscape painter, figurative artist, proprietor of the Fowler Gallery (formerly at 423 Commercial Street) and an illustrator of The New Joy of Gay Sex, lived here until recent years. More pictures and history»

219 Commercial Street

 
United States Post Office

Even more than the grocery stores (after all, some people shopped at the A & P while others shopped at the First National), the Post Office was Provincetown’s commons, its Rialto, its great public meeting ground. But it is not untarnished in civic memory. The Post Office was the site in 1949 of a dreadful tragedy, when the town’s well-respected postmaster, William H. Cabral (b ±1900) accidentally shot and killed James “Jimmy Peek” Souza (b ±1930), a rambunctious youth whom Cabral was merely trying to frighten with his Army revolver. The extent of Cabral’s moral liability was a subject that pitted citizens against one another bitterly. And even if those memories have now softened, the Post Office itself still bears a scar from the shooting. More pictures and history»

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»

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»