99-101 Commercial Street

99-101 Commercial Street, Furtado's Boatyard, courtesy of Joseph Andrews.

99-101 Commercial Street, Furtado’s Boatyard, courtesy of Joseph Andrews.

Restaurants come and go. Sal’s Place came in 1962 and stayed until 2014, when its remarkable run was celebrated and its passing mourned. It was in the Union Wharf Building, an upland relic of the Union Wharf, which was built around 1830, the first 1,000-foot-plus wharf. It was the setting of Furtado’s Boatyard. Manuel “Ti Manuel” Furtado was the father of 20th-century boatbuilding in town. His alumni went on to establish Flyer’s Boatyard (Francis “Flyer” Santos) and Taves Boatyard (Frank “Biska” Taves). He was born in São Miguel, in the Azores, landing in town in 1898 as a ship’s carpenter. He fished on the Grand Banks. Around 1920, he set up shop at Union Wharf, where he was known for his “painstaking skill and craftsmanship,” The Advocate said after his death in 1945.

99-101 Commercial Street, Sal's Place, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

99-101 Commercial Street, Sal’s Place, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

Lora and Alexander Papetsas, by Dan McKeon (2014).

Lora and Alexander Papetsas, by Dan McKeon (2014).

The Skipper restaurant was here in the ’50s. Salvatore Del Deo opened Sal’s after his partnership with Ciro Cozzi at Ciro & Sal’s dissolved. He turned the business over in 1989 to Jack and Lora Papetsas. Their son, Alexander, joined them. The little cottage next to Sal’s — at times indistinguishable from it — is A Home at Last. It served as the geographic center of gravity for much of the lovely memoir My Provincetown: Memories of a Cape Cod Childhood, by Amy Whorf McGuiggan. At press time, a proposed enlargement that would almost double its size had become the latest flashpoint in the battle between development and preservation.


More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.

100 Commercial Street

100 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

100 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

Roxanne "Jill" Pires, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

Roxanne “Jill” Pires, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

There was a day not long ago when there were few things as common as Portuguese families living at the west end of Commercial. Now, there are few things as unusual. But some families remain; a quiet, enduring and modest presence. Roxanne “Jill” Pires — a retired waitress, bartender, and customer-service agent — lives in a home that has been in her family’s hands nearly 70 years. Her parents, Manuel Pires and Winifred Fredina (O’Donnell) Pires, bought this house in 1946 for $5,000. She traces its history to the 19th century, when it was Thomas W. Dyer’s paint store. During a renovation, Pires uncovered some of the original wood-pegged timber framing.


More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.

100 Commercial Street

 
There was a day — and not too long ago — when there would have been few things as common in town as a Portuguese family living at the west end of Commercial Street. Now, there are few things as unusual. But some longtime families remain; a quiet, enduring and modest presence in the midst of growing (if tastefully understated) ostentation. Roxanne “Jill” Pires (b 1944) exemplifies that tradition, living in a home just beyond the Turn that has been in her family’s hands for more than 60 years. More pictures and history»

101 Commercial Street

 
A Home at Last
The little cottage next to Sal’s Place — and seemingly at times indistinguishable it — is known as A Home at Last. It served as the geographic center of gravity for much of the lovely memoir My Provincetown: Memories of a Cape Cod Childhood, by Amy Whorf McGuiggan (b 1956). Her grandfather, the painter John Whorf, lived at 52 Commercial Street. Simply by describing conditions on the deck at No. 101, where her family spent its vacations — liberated from the rigidity of Hingham, Mass. — McGuiggan captures the whole sense of summer in the 1960s: “The deck railings were draped all summer with bathing suits, bulky orange life jackets and an assortment of wet towels, no two of which matched. More pictures and history»

† 104 Commercial Street

Benjamin Lancy the first, “a man who gave stalwart descendants to Provincetown and who influenced its history,” built his home here in 1780. In December 1939, The Advocate noted: “Only a few pieces of the skeleton of what was once a building of historic importance now remain and those, too, will be gone as the Atlantic Coast Fisheries Company completes the work of razing the home built on the bend of Kelley’s Corner on Commercial Street more than a hundred and fifty eight years ago …. But … several fine parts of the house … will be kept intact in Provincetown’s museum, maintained by the Research Club, … which is housed in the residence of the late Benjamin Lancy, the last!” Gertrude deWager, president of the club, requested “the fireplance mantle, the corner cupboard and wainscoting … to be used in the authentic Colonial kitchen which is being constructed within the museum.” They were donated Frank H. Rowe, manager of Atlantic Coast Fisheries.

112 Commercial Street

112 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

112 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

John Dowd, courtesy of John Dowd.

John Dowd, courtesy of John Dowd.

112 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

112 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

As you approach the Turn in Commercial Street, you may think you’re being watched. You are. The artist John Dowd has placed a bust of Shakespeare in a second-floor window, from which the bard casts his eye over the West End Rialto. The house, which dates to about 1840, was a favorite of postcard publishers, given its picturesque situation. Capt. John Taves of the dragger Lucy F. lived here with his wife, Mary (Cabral) Taves. He perished in 1940 when the boat was caught in a blizzard. Dowd, probably the town’s best known contemporary painter and the chairman of the Historic District Commission, bought the house in 1994. His passion for architecture and Cape light is evident in townscapes that impart nobility and gravity to the built environment. In “Tides of Provincetown,” a sweeping 2011 exhibition about the art colony, he was represented as artist and collector.


More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.

112 Commercial Street

 
As you approach the Turn in Commercial Street from the east, you may think you’re being watched. You are. A bust of William Shakespeare has taken up more-or-less permanent residence in a second-floor window at No. 112. Year in and year out, window open or shut, the ghostly little Bard casts his eyes over the West End Rialto. More pictures and history»

117 Commercial Street

 
Former Pumper House No. 1

Built in 1858, a year before the Fire Department was formally organized, this structure was originally designated Fire House No. 2 and carried that designation at least through 1910. The cupola, its most distinctive feature after the truck bay itself, marked the loft in which hoses were dried. For much of the 20th century, these were the quarters of Pumper Company No. 1, first responders to any fire in the far West End, signified by a single blast of the alarm on Town Hall. One of the longest-term volunteers here was Joseph Andrews, who was a member of this house for 29 years — 23 of them on the Board of Engineers — until his retirement in 1980. More pictures and history»

117 Commercial Street

117 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

117 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

Built in 1858, a year before the Fire Department was formally organized, this structure was originally designated Fire House No. 2. The cupola, its most distinctive feature after the truck bay itself, marked the loft in which hoses were dried. For much of the 20th century, these were the quarters of Pumper Company No. 1, first responders to any fire in the far West End, signified by a single blast of the alarm on Town Hall. One of the longest-term volunteers here was Joseph Andrews, who was a member of this house for 29 years until his retirement in 1980. The house was decommissioned in 1993 and is currently a private home in which the truck bay doubles as a front porch. It has been owned since 2002 by Bryan Rafanelli and Mark Walsh.


More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.

Louis Ferreira Square (The Turn)

There was a problem facing the county commissioners as they were laying out Commercial Street in the West End in the early 19th century. His name was Benjamin Lancy. Lancy owned a salt works behind his house and it appeared his property would have to be bisected by the new street. “Whoever saws through my salt works saws through my body,” Lancy declared, according to The Provincetown Book by Nancy W. Paine Smith. To which Joshua Paine replied, “Where’s a saw?” More history»

119 Commercial Street

 
Few narratives, fiction or nonfiction, convey as warm and intimate a sense of Provincetown as Frank X. Gaspar‘s beguiling novel, Leaving Pico (University Press of New England, 1999). The story — about a transformative summer in the life of a Portuguese-American family and about our common hunger for just enough nobility to hold our heads high — is centered on the West End home of its young narrator, Josie Carvalho. So it’s inevitable, if treacherous, to look at 119 Commercial Street, where Gaspar (b ±1946) grew up in the 1950s, and wonder just how much of this house is in Leaving Pico. “The book is not a memoir, nor is it sociology or history,” Gaspar said in an interview presented on the University Press of New England Web site. More pictures and history

149 Commercial Street

Monkey Bar
From the Amy Ackerman Studio of Dancing in the ’30s to Zora’s Fish Market in the ’40s, 149 Commercial Street became Wesley and Mildred Felton’s Cottage Restaurant in 1950 and stayed that for many years, a cozy spot where friends at breakfast could discuss “the previous night’s conquests or disappointments,” as Images of America noted. As the Monkey Bar, it featured “a pan-Asian-meets-Cape-Cod selection” Lonely Planet said. The building is also now known as the Sandbar Village Condominium.

157 Commercial Street

157 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

157 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

"Snug harbor," by David W. Dunlap (2011).

“Snug harbor,” by David W. Dunlap (2011).

Kevin O'Shea, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

Kevin O’Shea, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

Before Commercial Street, houses close to the water faced the water. No. 157 still does. Local lore holds that this three-quarter Cape dates to the mid-1700s, that it is haunted, and that fugitive slaves were hidden by abolitionists in a “snug harbor” cavity in the central chimney tower (pictured). In the 1930s, this was the Hatchway boarding house. Romain Roland and his wife, Eileen, renovated it in 1978 as the French restaurant Chez Romain, fondly remembered as one of the most sophisticated in town. It was succeeded in 1984 by Snug Harbor, a Creole-Cajun bistro run by Diane Corbo and Valerie Caranno. They sold it in 1991 to Glen and Gary Martin, who reopened it as the Martin House, specializing in New England fare. It closed in 2005. The property was acquired in 2010 by Kevin O’Shea and David Bowd, who rebuilt it as a private home while keeping many historical elements.


More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.