175 Commercial Street

175 Commercial Street, Anchor Inn Beach House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

175 Commercial Street, Anchor Inn Beach House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

175 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

175 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

A handsomely ample corner turret, ornate pediment and neo-Classical details on the broad front porch distinguish this Queen Anne-style house, built around 1870 and subsequently expanded. The Anchor and Ark Club, a Masonic organization (the emblems symbolize a well-grounded hope and a well-spent life), was founded in 1935 and headquartered here. This was also the Seagull Restaurant. It has been the Anchor Inn Beach House for several decades; much of that time under the flamboyant management of Peter Boyle II, whose antique cars — perennially parked out front — served as an additional calling card. He died in 2002. David Silva, who owns and manages the Red Inn, is now the proprietor.


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.

 

 

175 Commercial Street

 
Anchor Inn Beach House

Opposite the great Second Empire mansard at No. 174 is the handsomely ample corner turret of this Queen Anne-style house at 175 Commercial Street, built around 1870. The neo-Classical details of the broad front porch also distinguish the building. The Anchor and Ark Club was founded in 1935 and was headquartered here. The Seagull Restaurant was also operated here at the time. It has been the Anchor Inn Beach House for several decades. More pictures and history»

176 Commercial Street

Webster House | Yesterday’s Treasures
Well worth a second look; not for the storefront right on the street but for what looks like a half Cape forming an interior ell. This was the property of Helen P. Rogers at the turn of the 20th century, when it was denominated 175 Commercial Street. The current retail tenant is Yesterday’s Treasures. Doubtless the most controversial retail tenant here was the Fetish Chest, which opened in 1997 to complaints from the neighbors like, “It looks like it dropped out of the sky from New York City’s 42nd Street.” (“New Sex Shop Flaunts Its Wares,” The Banner, 20 February 1997.)

177 Commercial Street

Bayside Betsy’s
This is now Bayside Betsy’s restaurant. When Edward Souza proposed converting 177 Commercial Street into a 24-seat breakfast restaurant in 1976, he faced opposition from some neighbors and one of the selectmen over his application for a common victualler’s license. “Several neighbors complained that the area should be spared further congestion,” The Advocate reported, even though the property had at one earlier time served as a restaurant.

† Wharf at 179 Commercial Street

Joseph Manta’s Wharf
Joseph Manta arrived in the United States in 1854, sailed, opened a grocery store in 1876 and then bought this wharf in 1882, which then was known as Joseph Manta’s Wharf, and denominated 180 Commercial Street. He acted as a wholesale agent for several large schooners, and also prepared dried salt cod. His wife was Philomena Manta, a name that ought to ring a very resonant bell for lovers of Provincetown history and the work of Charles W. Hawthorne.

179 Commercial Street

Scott Dinsmore Antiques | Jimmy’s Hide Away

Philomena Manta — namesake of the schooner that was the namesake of the famous Charles W. Hawthorne painting in Town Hall — lived here until her death in 1936. This is now Scott Dinsmore Antiques and Jimmy’s Hide Away. It was formerly Szechuan Chinese Restaurant; the Pub Down Under in the mid-1980s, run by Diane J. Corbo and Valerie A. Carrano of the Ravenwood guesthouse at 462 Commercial Street; and Jenny Lind’s. It is a five-unit condominium.

[Updated 2012-01-01]

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»

† 183-185 Commercial Street

Fishermens Cold Storage
Fishermens Cold Storage was one of a half dozen fish processing and freezing plants that lined the waterfront in the early 20th century. Machinery kept compressed anhydrous ammonia in pipes at zero degrees to chill fish and bait. This plant, built in 1905, was sold to the giant Atlantic Coast Fisheries Corporation combine in 1937, and was torn down shortly thereafter.

183-185 Commercial Street

James Hansen's mural at Bubala's by the Bay, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

James Hansen’s mural at Bubala’s by the Bay, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

On the expansive site of the Fishermens Cold Storage plant, the Sea View Club was operated in the 1960s and ’70s by Chris and Elizabeth Salvador. In 1994, Bubala’s by the Bay opened here, having been established a year earlier upstairs at the Cafe Edwige by John “Jingles” Yingling, the restaurateur behind Spiritus and Enzo’s. His son Guillermo is now the executive chef. (His nephew Erik is vice chairman of the Board of Selectmen.) The Picasso-esque figures on the sign are derived from the large and playful mural (pictured) by James Hansen. Other artwork here is by Carl Tasha, Ellen Lebow, and Richard Pepitone. The sculptural musical notes, by René Lamadrid, derive from the Peter Gunn theme by Henry Mancini. Lots of outdoor seating makes Bubala’s ideal for people-watching during the nightly passegiatta.


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.

 

183-185 Commercial Street

 
Bubala’s by the Bay

On the expansive site of the Fishermens Cold Storage plant, the Sea View Club was operated in the 1960s by Christopher Salvador. In 1994, Bubala’s opened at this location, having been first established a year earlier upstairs at the Cafe Edwige. It is owned and operated by John Yingling, the proprietor of the nearby Spiritus and Enzo. As of 2011, Gui Yingling is the kitchen manager, Tom Conklin is the general manager, and Liz Roberts is the floor and bar manager. The restaurant is perennially popular in part because it has a lot of outdoor seating right on Commercial Street, making it perfect for people-watching during the nightly passegiatta, and it has also indoor harbor views. More pictures»

184 Commercial Street

 
Marc by Marc Jacobs

What is now among the most up-to-date venues in Provincetown is a house that dates to the mid-19th century, according to the Historic District Survey. James Fuller owned the building at the turn of the 20th century, when it was denominated 181 Commercial Street. It was the home in the mid-1960s of Bert Perry (±1921-1966), the piano player for many seasons at the Ace of Spades Club across the street. More pictures and history»

184 Commercial Street

184 Commercial Street, Marc by Marc Jacobs, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

184 Commercial Street, Marc by Marc Jacobs, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

In Provincetown Discovered, Manuel Silva’s yard can be seen filled with lobster pots, under the sign, “Native Lobster Now $2.50 Lb.” Richard Allan, an attic roomer in the ’50s, recalls Carrie Silva leaving him a quart of milk and a “most delicious” lobster sandwich every few days. In the ’90s, the building housed Wa, Tom Rogers’s Asian antique and housewares store. In 2007, it became a Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique. (Robert Duffy, the president of the company, was spending summers at 27 Commercial.) Was this the End of Provincetown as We Knew It? To his own surprise, Mike Albo of The New York Times found that he liked the store. “The brand’s trend-making, gossiped-about namesake is brazenly gay, has a messy love life, and can’t stop posing half-naked in front of people,” Albo wrote in 2008. “Sounds like Provincetown to me.”


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.

186 Commercial Street

186 Commercial Street, Enzo Guest House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

186 Commercial Street, Enzo Guest House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

Guillermo Yingling.

Guillermo Yingling.

Michael Kacergis butterfly.

Michael Kacergis butterfly.

Gideon Bowley owned this house in the 19th century and built Bowley’s Wharf opposite. Capt. William Matheson followed as owner of the house and new namesake of the wharf, later called Steamboat Wharf. More recently, the house was owned by Esther and Stanley Chamberlain, then Bobby Werner, then Ellen Freeman. John Yingling’s son Guillermo (pictured) now runs it, with Eric Jansen, as the Enzo Guest House and Local 186. Restaurants here since 1970, Joel Grozier said, were S’il Vous Plaît, Maggie’s, Mary-Lou’s Backstage Café, Sea Fox Inn, Victor Victoria, Café at the Painted Lady Inn, Franco’s, the Grill, Fiddle Leaf, Blondie’s, Cactus Garden, Esther’s, and Enzo’s. “Scream Along With Billy” in the Grotta Bar features Billy Hough and Sue Goldberg. The iron butterflies and flowers around the patio were designed and fabricated by Michael Kacergis.


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.

186 Commercial Street

 
Enzo

Named for the great Italian automobile racer and manufacturer, Enzo Ferrari, this establishment is a restaurant, a guest house (five rooms) and a bar (Grotta). It is run by John Yingling, whose other properties are Bubala’s by the Bay, across the street, and Spiritus nearby. The garden of whimsical wrought botany was designed and fabricated by the Kacergis family of the Provincetown Welding Works at 3 Bradford Street. This was formerly Esther’s Inn, run by Esther Chamberlain More history»

† Wharf at 187-189 Commercial Street

 
Steamboat Wharf
Steamboat Wharf was once the maritime gateway to Provincetown, where passengers arrived by steamboat from Boston. The pier was originally known as Bowley’s Wharf. It was built in 1849. Joshua and Gideon Bowley also built a ship outfitting store on Commercial Street in 1851. More history»

188 Commercial Street

Impulse Art Gallery
Impulse is the latest in a long string of commercial tenants at the base of this unusually large building. In the mid-20’s, it was a clothing store known as Brennan’s. Marion “Bert” Perry took the space over in 1939 for his brief-lived Central Cash Market, selling groceries, produce and meat. Within a year, it was the Williams Market, specializing in seafood and groceries. By the end of the 1940’s, it was an electrical appliance store known as Carter & Carter. By the 1950s, it was an appliance supply and maintenance shop called Jacob’s Radio Service.

189 Commercial Street

189 Commercial Street, Pumper Company No. 2, by Josephine Del Deo (1976).

189 Commercial Street, Pumper Company No. 2, by Josephine Del Deo (1976).

In a windswept town made of wood-framed buildings jam-packed together, fire is a dreadful and relentless enemy. That’s why you don’t have to walk far to see more than one fire house. It was for good reason that they seemed to be everywhere along Commercial: No. 117, No. 189, No. 254, No. 351, and No. 514. Volunteer companies were summoned to their houses by an alarm sounded at Town Hall. Two blasts were a call for Pumper Company No. 2, whose quarters were here. This station was decommissioned in 1988. A project to turn it into a visitor information center with public restrooms got under way in 1999. After repeated hurdles, the restrooms opened in 2010 when the late Sandy Turner, the assistant director of public works, cut a ceremonial ribbon of toilet paper.


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.

189 Commercial Street

 
Firehouse Comfort Station
In a windswept town made of wood-framed buildings, fire is a dreadful and relentless enemy. That’s why you don’t have to walk far to see more than one fire house. It was for good reason that they seemed to be everywhere: 117 Commercial, 189 Commercial, 254 Commercial, 351 Commercial, 514 Commercial and 4 Johnson Street. Volunteer companies were summoned to their respective houses by an alarm sounded at Town Hall. Two blasts were a call for Pumper House 2.

This station was decomissioned in 1988. After the new fire headquarters was opened on Shank Painter Road, this building was to be turned into a visitor information center with much-needed public restrooms. More history and pictures»

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

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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.

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»

† 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»