190 Commercial Street

190 Commercial Street, Spiritus after hours, by David Jarrett (1981).

190 Commercial Street, Spiritus after hours, by David Jarrett (1981).

190 Commercial Street, by Josephine Del Deo (1976).

190 Commercial Street, by Josephine Del Deo (1976).

Spiritus pizzeria is interwoven with recent history, and its home has a fascinating past life. It was built in the 1830s for Reuben Collins II. Sixty years later, his children Richard and Minnie physically divided the house between them. It was not reunited again until the 1940s. John Yingling arrived in 1978 and transformed it into Spiritus, with a free-spirited décor. Under the same roof, Gus Gutterman and Arnie Charnick ran Spiritus Ice Cream. Spiritus has long been the after-hours gathering spot for bar-goers, partiers, late diners, and hundreds of other men. (The pizza is good, too.) The scene was upended in 1986 during a three-night melee between the police and gay protesters known as the “Spiritus Riot.”


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.

190 Commercial Street

 
Spiritus

The Spiritus pizzeria is so interwoven with recent P’town history that it is almost hard to believe its home had an earlier life. But it did, all the way back to around 1837, when 190 Commercial Street was probably constructed for Reuben Collins II and his family. In 1892, when the building would have been denominated No. 189, his children Richard and Minnie physically divided the house between them. (Both were allowed to use the front door and stairs.) It was not reunited again until its purchase in 1945. An optometrist, Dr. Max Berman, operated here from the late 1940s until the late 1970s. John Love Yingling arrived in 1978 and transformed the place into Spiritus, the unofficial after-hours gathering spot on warm summer nights for hundreds of men. (The pizza isn’t bad, either.) More pictures and history»

191 Commercial Street

Century | Glass Half Full

William B. Bangs of 448 Commercial (now the Copper Fox) was the owner of this building at the turn of the 20th century, when it was denominated 190 Commercial Street. In the 1950s, the Mexican Shop and the Windjammer Gallery were here. The building was purchased in 1964 by Frank J. Hurst Jr. (±1916-2001) and passed on to his son, Crayne. The elder Hurst had grown up in Washington but met and married Chief Yeoman Halcyone Cabral during World War II and came to town to visit his in-laws. That was “the beginning of his love affair with the town,” The Banner said. More history»

192-194 Commercial Street

A Gallery | FK Full Kit Gear Shop

An important Federal-style building, easy to overlook. This was the property of Bessie D. Freeman at the turn of the 20th century, when the building was denominated 191 Commercial Street. City Video was a longtime tenant. The current tenants are A Gallery, showing the works of Eileen Counihan, Steve Desroches, John Dimestico, Alexandre Jazédé, Olga Manosalvas, Adam Peck, Marian Peck, Christopher Sousa and Harry Wicks. Downstairs is FK Full Kit Gear Shop, “Serious Gear for Serious Men.” Serious about what is obvious enough. More history»

192-194 Commercial Street

192-194 Commercial Street, apartment, by David W. Dunlap (2013).

192-194 Commercial Street, apartment, by David W. Dunlap (2013).

192-194 Commercial Street (2013).

192-194 Commercial Street (2013).

Zoë Lewis, by Eileen Counihan.

Zoë Lewis, by Eileen Counihan.

Though it looks at first glance a bit like a Federal-style house, No. 192-194 is in fact a Cape with a full-width addition, according to the Provincetown Historic Survey. Inside, the building is rich in character and poor in right angles. Diana Henley of Brooklyn has owned the property since 1960. The musician Zoë Lewis (pictured) is among the residents. Commercial tenants have included John R. Small Mimeographing, 1940s; Rogers Art Supply, 1950s; Isis Unveiled, 1980s; Don’t Panic T-shirt shop; Third Eye at Phoenix Rising; and City Video (remember VHS?), which was succeeded by Adam Peck’s A Gallery, a showcase for the artist Christopher Sousa. Downstairs is FK Full Kit Gear Shop, “Serious Gear for Serious Men.” Serious about what is obvious enough after just a moment’s visit.


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.

193 Commercial Street

Roots
Commercial tenants in the streetfront space at 193 Commercial have included the most wonderfully named Pig ‘n Chick restaurant (1946), whose memorable motto was, “Take Me Quick to the Pig ‘n Chick”; Pablo’s Cuisine au Vin (1955), the Provincetown branch of a restaurant by the same name at 232 East 58th Street in Manhattan; the Skillet Restaurant (1961), which featured at least one Christmas in July event, two weeks of stuffed turkey dinners, “complete with Santa Claus, Xmas Tree, Carols and all holiday decorations.” Current tenants include the Roots housewares store. Toys of Eros was here until f In the streetfront retail spaces on the ground and second floor are Roots and Toys of Eros. The Pied Bar was being offered for sale in 2009 for $2,395,000.

193A Commercial Street

193A Commercial Street, Ace of Spades Club, Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

193A Commercial Street, Ace of Spades Club, Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

Ace of Spades matchbook, Salvador R. Vasques III Collection.

Ace of Spades matchbook, Salvador R. Vasques III Collection.

A social center of lesbian life since the early 1950s, when it was the Ace of Spades Club (pictured), run by John and Frances Atkins. The beachcomber décor was in part the work of Jeanne “Frenchie” Chanel. As a club, it was legally bound to limit admission. Anti-gay selectmen would target it for not enforcing membership rules. Perhaps that was why in 1961 the proprietors refused to admit the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, who was with Gore Vidal when she couldn’t produce ID. Pamela Genevrino and Linda Gerard reopened the place as the Pied Piper in 1971. Susan Webster took over in 1986; added the “After Tea T-Dance,” attracting men; and changed the name in 2000 to PiedBar, which she said draws “a very mixed clientele.”


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.

193A Commercial Street

 
Pied Bar

A landmark of women’s history, 193A Commercial has been a social center of lesbian life — and gay life generally — since the early 1950s, when it was the Ace of Spades Club. (The club famously refused admission in 1961 to the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.) “Allegedly the longest continuously running lesbian bar in the United States, the Ace of Spades played a critical role in Provincetown’s history as the first and, for many years, the only social institution at Land’s End that catered specifically to women,” Karen Christel Krahulik wrote in Provincetown: From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort (New York University Press, 2005). More pictures and history»

195-199 Commercial Street

 
Café Heaven | Melt | Coffey Men

This is one of the most important commercial buildings in town, not least for the fact that it is astonishingly intact. It’s also significant as a wharfhead structure, though the wharf behind it is long gone. Tom Boland said of this storefront that it “survives as an excellent representation of commercial properties in the 19th century.” A comparison of photographs (above and to the right), taken about 120 years apart, discloses how little altered this building property has been. Even the three bays of nine large lights in the storefront persist. The most notable change is probably the dormer sheds that were added on either side of the gabled roof. Otherwise, it doesn’t take much visual imagination to conjure the day in the 1870s or 1880s, say, when this was John L. Rich’s men’s emporium, selling boots, shoes, clothing and accessories. A thorough account of the building’s first half-century comes to us through Herman A. Jennings in his book Provincetown, or Odds and Ends From the Tip End. More history»

195-199 Commercial Street

Pages 086-090 25

195-199 Commercial Street in 1890 (top), from “Provincetown, or Odds and Ends From the Tip End,” and in 2013 (bottom), by David W. Dunlap.

This important, astonishingly intact commercial building from 1845-46 looks largely as it did 125 years ago (top), when it was John Rich’s men’s emporium. It’s also significant as a wharf-head structure, though the Market Wharf behind it is long gone. On this site in 1945, William Hathaway built what may have been the first marine railway in town. The silversmith Ed Wiener was here in the 1940s; followed by Lamp Shades by Polly Allen; Josephine Del Deo’s Sea Weaves Shop; and the Circular Cellar, run by Frank Lee and Jim Simpson, copper-enamel artisans. Beginning in 1959, Lenore Ross ran the Plain & Fancy restaurant and Lobster Bar here. Other tenants included Richard Ecock’s Buttonwood clothing, Mazel Tov restaurant, and the No. 5 and Coffey Men men’s stores. The popular Café Heaven is here now, as is Melt, a bath product store.


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.

† Wharf at 195-199 Commercial Street

 
Joseph Atwood Wharf
This wharf, once known as the Market Wharf, was originally associated with the wharfhead building where Café Heaven is a longtime tenant, which was constructed in 1845-46. The overall operation on the pier and in the upland structures was the fitting of vessels and the purchasing of cod and mackerel. More pictures and history»

198 Commercial Street

Ranch Guest Lodge

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»