200 Commercial Street

 
Southstream Design | Toys of Eros

Built around 1920 in the Colonial Revival style as a Ford Motor Company garage, 200 Commercial Street is a landmark in the development of the town’s art scene after World War II. In 1949, Weldon Kees, a painter, poet, art critic, jazz musician, playwright and filmmaker, organized Forum 49, an avant-garde series of talks and displays. One of the first programs centered on the question “What is an artist?” More pictures and history»

† 205-209 Commercial Street

M. L. Adams built this store at 205-209 Commercial Street in 1865, though he did not put the Adams in Adams’ Market. That fell to John Adams, who bought the property in 1884 and continued the grocery and provision business of Warren Fielding, under the name of John Adams’ Market. There was, by the end of the 19th century, a large refrigerated room for meat. And the store had its own railway. “This is the largest store of the kind in town,” said Odds and Ends From the Tip End, “and a full assortment of everything that pertains to that business can always be found there.” Stores like this also sold provisions to the Grand Banks schooner fleet. The market was demolished in 1919 and replaced by the Paige Brothers Garage.

205-09 Commercial Street

 
Aquarium Marketplace

Unlikely as it may seem today, this was an aquarium in the 1960s and early 1970s: the Provincetown Marine Aquarium. Jackie, Lady and Lucky — three Atlantic bottlenose dolphins — were the principal attraction. They spent their summers in a beachfront pool that’s now covered by a deck and occupied by the Aqua Bar. But those double-P ligatures in the facade of the building don’t stand for Provincetown. They stand for Paige Brothers Garage, which this building was. Constructed in 1920-21, it was Provincetown’s first all-brick building. Paige Brothers entered the “accommodation” business in 1912 and three years later, bought three motor buses which quickly drove their horsedrawn competitors “from the highway.” Two of the buses operated well into the 1930s. More pictures and history»

206-208 Commercial Street

Rogues Gallery |
Nor’east Beer Garden
The house was built around 1870 in the Italianate style. The south facade used to have two monumentally-scaled doorways. These were replaced by a long, two-story porch. The property, owned since 2003 by Hal Winard, includes an open lot that affords such a great view of 3 Carver Street, up the hill. Cotton Gin was a retail tenant until recent years. In 2010, the designer Alex Carleton, who had worked for Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch and L. L. Bean, opened the Rogues Gallery clothing and furnishing store at No. 208. (Another Rogues Gallery is in Portland, Me.) The Nor’East Beer Garden restaurant has also opened recently.

210 Commercial Street

Provincetown Fudge Factory |
Wonderful Hands Massage |
Henry & Company

Fondue, anyone? I look at this building aglow at night and picture a ski lodge where someone is singing Meglio Stasera. Happily for Midcentury Modernistas, Provincetown did not escape the A-frame craze of the 1950s and ’60s and this is a terrific example of the style. By the late 1970s, the Gryphon gift store occupied the entire frontage, which has since been divided. John Maguire Jr. and his wife, Deirdre (Morelli) Maguire (1958-2011) bought one of the four condominium units in 1986 for their Provincetown Fudge Factory. More pictures and history»

211-215 Commercial Street

Christina’s Jewelry | Wardrobe

This was the last home of the locally renowned Rush Fish Market, founded in 1921 by Frank E. Cabral and his brother, Joseph Cabral (d 1953). They moved the business here in 1942 and Frank operated it until 1966, when he retired. (“Fish Market Proprietor Retires After 61 Years in Business,” The Advocate, 3 November 1966.) The Cabrals were known in the West End as the “Rush Brothers” for the speeds at which they cut and wrapped fish. Christina’s Jewelry has been at No. 215 since 1982, a remarkable feat of continuity. It is owned by Christine Meegan. The Wardrobe women’s clothing boutique at No. 213 is owned by Stephen Carey.

212 Commercial Street

Global Gifts | Muir Music | Norma Glamp’s

Though it looks like part of a compound with the Art House theater — and is in fact on the same tax lot — 212 Commercial Street was constructed between 1850 and 1870. (The Long Point exhibit at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum identifies it as a floater.) James Matenos owned the property in the mid-20th century and offered rooms for transients and ran a shoe repair shop. The building was firmly pinned on summer visitors’ retail map by 1960 with the Paraphernalia apparel store — “everything to make you Happily Dressed (except culottes!)” it declared in an ad just before Bastille Day. In 1963, Mary Rattray Kanovitz, a costume jeweler from the East Village, opened the Queen of Diamonds, a clothing and accessories store. More pictures and history»

214 Commercial Street

 
Art House | D. Flax | Frappo 66

A decade after remaking the old Congregational church at 256-258 Commercial Street into the Art Cinema in 1954, George I. Shafir of New York set out to build a movie theater from the ground up: the New Art Cinema, reached through an arcade of shops housed in substantively altered older structures. (No. 214 is idenitified as a floater in the Long Point exhibit at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.) You can still see the juncture between old and new buildings from the alleyway. The architect was Burnett V. Vickers of Orleans, who also designed an expansion of the Provincetown Inn. The most interesting feature is the carved wood signpost, which Roslyn Garfield told me was the work of the Joan Wye (±1926-2006). More pictures and history»

† 219 Commercial Street

Provincetown Printers
“Six artists formed the Provincetown Printers in 1915, developing a unique method of woodcut printing, making single block or ‘white line’ prints,” Nyla Ahrens wrote in Provincetown: The Art Colony. “The method lent itself to personal cubist styles soon developed by Agnes Weinrich and Blanche Lazzell. By 1918 the enlarged group established a gallery on the site of the present Post Office and sent traveling shows through the United States, Canada and Europe.”

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»

† 220 Commercial Street

 
Oldest Shop

The Oldest Shop, which was torn down in 1966, can be thought of as Provincetown’s Penn Station; not in terms of grandeur, certainly, but as that beloved landmark everyone assumed would always be around — until it was razed in the name of economics. Noting the objections that greeted its demolition, The Advocate said in an editorial: “The group of protesting citizens could well form the nucleus of an historical society or of any organization dedicated to the preservation of old historic Provincetown landmarks. And there are still more than a few to be saved though they are fast disappearing. Let’s preserve — not memorialize!” More pictures and history»

220 Commercial Street

WA | ID

To follow the Penn Station analogy of the previous post, this building — no matter how impressive or interesting the tenants — seems unlikely to win over anyone with a long enough memory to recall that the Oldest Shop was torn down to clear the site. That said, the current stores are certainly well worth noting. WA is an Asian-themed houseware, garden and home furnishing store — stressing the concept of harmony — that was established in 1996 by Thomas M. Rogers, who had previously owned and run Tommy Custom Floral Design in Boston. More pictures and history

† 221-223 Commercial Street

 
Charles Nickerson Wharf

This exceptional photograph was taken some time between 1870 (when King Hiram’s Lodge was built) and 1877 (when the first Town Hall, on the hilltop in the distance) burned down. It shows the flake yard — smack dab in the heart of town — at the head of the Charles Nickerson Wharf; filled with rank after rank of cod-drying racks, known as fish flakes. In his three-part series on the wharves of Provincetown, Irving S. Rogers said that the 400-foot Nickerson wharf was “quite important as an unloading and flaking wharf for the codfishing vessels.” (“Puffs and Pot Shots,” The Advocate, 16 October 1941.) This yard would later be the apron in front of the Cape Cod Garage. It is where the Seamen’s Bank stands now. If King Hiram’s Lodge doesn’t look quite right to you, it may be because it was formerly three stories tall.

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»

225 Commercial Street

 
Blondie’s Burgers

Understated and off the aesthetic radar screen, 225 Commercial Street exemplifies the versatility of old utilitarian waterfront buildings that adapt themselves constantly — and with remarkable success — to the many tenants who pass through their timber frames. This particular structure was built around 1900, according to the Historic District Survey, and has served as a garage, a clubhouse, a florist, a gift shop, a record store, a cheese market and a restaurant; as well as a residence. More pictures and text»

226-228 Commercial Street

Vorelli’s Restaurant

Built in 1880 in Second Empire style, this was once the Provincetown Five & Ten Cents Store. It was the Seacomber Restaurant in the ’40s, staying open until 2, offering “night owl specials,” sharing space for a time with the Taffy Box gift shop, which specialized in wild beach plums and beach plum jelly. The building has been owned since 1987 by Theresa M. Vorelli (b 1935) and is home to Vorelli’s Restaurant, a steak house. Offered for sale in 2008 for $2.25 million, 226-228 Commercial Street was described as having four apartments upstairs and an owner’s penthouse on the third floor. More pictures»

227 Commercial Street

 
Little Store

The title tells the story, in an appealingly forthright New England kind of way. This is a little building, but it looms large for West Enders — quite truly a beacon — when they need some indispensable grocery, first-aid or cosmetic item at an hour when other businesses are closed or just too far away. More pictures and history»

229 Commercial Street

 
Former Colonial Cold Storage Company | Indigo Lounge | Jake’s Cape House

This is one of the two great vestiges of the cold storage plants, or “freezers,” that once lined the waterfront and gave it an industrial cast that is almost impossible to imagine today. More pictures and history»

229 Commercial Street

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

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

The industrial era of the giant cold storage plants, or “freezers,” left two great vestiges: No. 501, now the Ice House condominium, and No. 229, the engine house of the Colonial Cold Storage Company plant, where tons of freshly caught fish were frozen and stored before being transported to waiting markets. Joshua and Ed Paine built the Colonial in 1915, evidently understanding that they were constructing a de facto civic institution. Colonial has some of the finest neo-Classical-style detailing of any commercial building in town. Even the facade along the alleyway (below) is noteworthy. The Colonial was acquired by Atlantic Coast Fisheries as the company’s beachhead in Provincetown and finally shut down in 1940. Later tenants have included the Treasure in Trash second-hand store, Lorraine’s restaurant, and Indigo Lounge-Jake’s Cape House.

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

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


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 229R Commercial Street

 
Lancy’s Wharf
Though it is a complete wreck today, Benjamin Lancy’s Wharf, which was built around 1850, is easily recognizable as the major pier it once was. His house, at 230 Commercial Street, is directly in line with the long axis of the pile field. More pictures»

229R Commercial Street

229R Commercial Street, Lancy's Wharf, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

229R Commercial Street, Lancy’s Wharf, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

Howard Mitcham, by Joel Grozier.

Howard Mitcham, by Joel Grozier.

Though it is a wreck, Benjamin Lancy’s Wharf, built around 1850, is recognizable as the major pier it once was. It even had a role in a 1947 movie, Daisy Kenyon. Joan Crawford and Henry Fonda filmed a scene on it (or at least a rear projection of it). Lancy’s house, No. 230, is in line with the pile field. At the head of the wharf is the former Old Reliable Fish House — the province of Howard Mitcham, perhaps the town’s most colorful chef and, in the ’70s, its best known. He had no use for culinary airs. He was a passionate advocate of seafood and of Portuguese cooking, and did much to keep these staples on the town menu when other restaurateurs started catering to summer people seeking more cosmopolitan fare. His Provincetown Seafood Cookbook of 1975 is an absorbing history that can be consumed even if you plan to get nowhere near a shucking or filleting knife.


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.

229R Commercial Street

 
Old Reliable Fish House
Between Lancy’s Wharf and the engine house of the Colonial Cold Storage plant is a three-story building that once housed the Old Reliable Fish House restaurant, now a forlornly abandoned near-ruin. This establishment was most famously the province of Howard Mitcham (d 1996), perhaps Provincetown’s most colorful chef and, in the 1970s, easily its best known. Mitcham had no use for culinary airs of any kind. He was a passionate advocate of seafood and of Portuguese cooking, and did much to keep these staples on the town menu when other restaurateurs started catering to summer people looking for more cosmopolitan fare. His Provincetown Seafood Cookbook of 1975, with a cover by Jackson Lambert, is an absorbing and entertaining history that can be happily consumed even by those who plan to get nowhere near a shucking or filleting knife. More pictures and history»

230 Commercial Street

 
Front Street | Cortile Gallery

Opposite Lancy’s Wharf is a magnificently eccentric Second Empire pile built in 1874 for Benjamin Lancy, a merchant and ship owner. If it reminds you of an Addams Family tableau, you should know that Lancy reportedly kept his dead mother in her bedroom for three months in 1896, rather than try to bury her in winter. Local legend credits his father, also Benjamin Lancy, with refusing to allow Commercial Street to be laid out in a straight line in the West End. After Lancy died in 1923, the building was acquired by the Research Club, a history-minded civic group, to be used as the Historical Museum. More pictures and history»

230 Commercial Street

230 Commercial Street (ca 1923), courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

230 Commercial Street (ca 1923), courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

Opposite Lancy’s Wharf is a Second Empire-style mansion built in 1874 for Benjamin Lancy, a merchant and ship owner. (He is said to have kept his dead mother in her bedroom for three months in 1896 rather than try to bury her in winter.) After he died in 1923, the building was acquired by the Research Club for use as the Historical Museum, to which Rear Adm. Donald MacMillan contributed many Arctic artifacts. In 1961, the collection was moved uphill as the Provincetown Museum at the Pilgrim Monument. Howard Gruber opened the restaurant Front Street, a fixture on the social scene, in 1973. He died of AIDS in 1993. It is now owned and run by Donna Aliperti. Current tenants of the commercial annex include Sol Optics and the Cortile Gallery.


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.

234 Commercial Street

Union Square |Thanassi Gallery | Vasso’s Jewelry

The main house at 234 Commercial Street was once the residence of Dr. Clarence P. and Clio (Hull) Curley. He also owned the garage at 225 Commercial. It was built around 1870 in the Second Empire style, while the two-story pavilion in the rear yard was built around 1980. What is missing now is the small Greek Revival store that used to stand in the front yard. The structure was moved to 289 Branford Street, where it stands now. The Union Square complex suffered serious damage in 1976 from a fire set by an arsonist. More pictures and history»

235 Commercial Street

 
Marine Specialties

Marine Specialties is a sui generis establishment in a sui generic town. Its baroque offerings couldn’t contrast more sharply with its spartan home, which some sources describe as an early 20th-century automotive garage and others as a 1940s trap-fishing shed. The store was founded in 1961 and is owned by the Patrick family, sixth-generation Provincetown; indeed, for a time it was called Patrick’s Marine Specialties. Their motto, “Everything You Never Knew You Needed,” is worth keeping in mind if you’re seriously tempted by that 57-year-old Minnesota license plate. The store says it offers “army-navy surplus, ship’s salvage, and whatever else we come across.” More pictures and history»

235 Commercial Street

235 Commercial Street, Marine Specialties, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

235 Commercial Street, Marine Specialties, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Bob Patrick, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

Bob Patrick, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

Marine Specialties is a sui generis establishment in a sui generic town. Its baroque offerings couldn’t contrast more sharply with its spartan home, which some sources describe as an early 20th-century automotive garage and others as a 1940s trap-fishing shed. The store was founded in 1961 and is owned by the Patrick family, sixth-generation Provincetown (Bob Patrick is pictured); indeed, for a time it was called Patrick’s Marine Specialties. Their motto, “Everything You Never Knew You Needed,” is worth keeping in mind if you’re seriously tempted by that 57-year-old Minnesota license plate. The store says it offers “army-navy surplus, ship’s salvage, and whatever else we come across.” That includes nautical décor, wooden buoys, lobster pots, fishnet, sea sponges, and feather boas. The entire pilot house of the tugboat Betsy Ross was installed in the store in 1966. See if you can spot it in the photo.


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.

236 Commercial Street

 
Unitarian Universalist Meeting House | Formerly Church of the Redeemer

Simply put, the U.U., which has stood here since 1847, is the most beautiful building in town. Indeed, it’s so revered in popular opinion that its steeple is known as the Christopher Wren Tower, after the 17th-century architect whose elegant churches transformed London. It is the only one of the four surviving 19th century churches on Commercial Street that still serves as a house of worship. It also does double duty as a vital secular hub and performance space, with fine acoustics and a restored 1850 Holbrook tracker organ. Don’t miss a visit to the sanctuary. The entire room was painted in trompe l’oeil style by Carl Wendte of Germany with a goal to fool your eye into believing you’re in Greek Temple. More pictures and history»

236 Commercial Street

236 Commercial Street, Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

236 Commercial Street, Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

Simply put, the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House (formerly the Church of the Redeemer or First Universalist Church), is the most beautiful building in town — inside and out. It’s been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972. It’s so revered that its steeple is called the Sir Christopher Wren Tower, after the 17th-century architect who transformed London. Unlike three other surviving church buildings downtown, the U.U. still serves as a house of worship, now under the Rev. Kate Wilkinson. The Greek Revival-style sanctuary was built in 1847. The steeple, added 10 years later, was not sufficiently supported to stand in sandy soil. Steel reinforcements were placed under it in 1999, but its northeasterly inclination (noticeable in the picture) was not corrected, out of concern for what even a bit of torquing might do to the plasterwork.

236 Commercial Street, Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

236 Commercial Street, Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

Don’t miss a visit to the sanctuary. The entire room was painted very convincingly in trompe l’oeil style by Carl Wendte of Germany. Try looking at the chancel alcove and telling yourself it’s a flat wall. Visitors are welcome during business hours and, of course, on Sunday mornings.

During the influenza epidemic of 1918, the church became an infirmary. In 1985, as membership fell, the Rev. Kim Crawford-Harvie arrived and helped revitalize the congregation. Ten years later, it established a dedicated AIDS ministry. The U.U. is host to a lively variety of groups and purposes, including 12-step meetings. The Soup Kitchen in Provincetown started here. It’s a treasured performance space, too, with fine acoustics and a restored 1850 Holbrook tracker organ. Among others, the U.U. Meeting House Theatre has featured Hedda Lettuce (Steven Polito), not your usual ecclesiastical figure.


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.

† 237 Commercial Street

The site of Whaler’s Wharf has drawn visitors for more than a century. Even before the Provincetown Theater was built, the Hopkins Candy Kitchen attracted happy crowds. In a hard-working town, any luxury that could be purchased for 11 cents a pound — the price for handmade molasses “chewing kisses” — must have been welcome. Charles S. Hopkins was born in Provincetown in 1858. By and by, he moved his store and his home to No. 237. “He there dispensed courtesy and honest dealings, together with his sweets, winning the good opinion of all his customers,” The Advocate said upon his death in 1917. Within two years, the humble Candy Kitchen was replaced by the imposing Provincetown Theater.

† 237 Commercial Street

 
Provincetown Theater | Whaler’s Wharf

The most spectacular fire in Provincetown’s living memory — on the mild night of Tuesday, 10 February 1998 — destroyed the 79-year-old Provincetown Theater (by then known as Whaler’s Wharf), the abutting Handcrafter store and much of the Crown & Anchor, incidentally damaging Marine Specialties and threatening the Julie Heller Gallery before it was brought under control by firefighters and emergency workers who had rushed to the cape end from as far away as Plymouth. (The fire could be seen in Dennis.) “There goes our history,” one onlooker was quoted as saying in The Banner. And, yes, a lot of history was lost that night — though, fortunately, no lives were. More pictures and history»

237 Commercial Street

 
Whaler’s Wharf

After the devastating 1998 fire, a project was undertaken to rebuild Whaler’s Wharf — or rather, to build a new and larger commercial structure of the same name at 237 Commercial Street. The developers worked with Ginny Binder of Binder Boland Associates. The design was clearly intended to evoke the monumental central arch of the 1919 Provincetown Theatre. The interior was a kind of last-gasp homage to the Festival Marketplace multilevel urban shopping arcade. But the size of the building turned out to be a matter of considerable controversy. And it’s worth asking how attractive a modern shopping mall can be when Commercial Street beckons outside. More pictures and history»

240 Commercial Street

Chadington’s of Provincetown

Built around 1830 in Greek Revival style, 240 Commercial Street was in the Patrick family for a number of decades. “Mrs. Patrick ran the Christmas (or Christmas Tree) Shop in the front rooms of this building,” the historian Irma Ruckstuhl notes in the comment below. “It was one of the very few retail establishments which could at that time (the early 50′s) truly be called a gift shop. Many years later one of their sons sold kites from the porch; I think the first such enterprise to take advantage of Provincetown’s good kite-flying winds.” Its current retail tenant, Chadington’s of Provincetown, sells what it calls “uniquities for the home.” More history»

242 Commercial Street

 
Tim’s Used Books
What a perfect entree to the world of Tim’s Used Books: through an almost-hidden gateway leading to a small path and a tiny bridge connecting to a tiny house, about 180 to 210 years old, set amid a glade of trees. The property has been owned since 1996 by Timothy F. Barry. Barry describes his career this way: “I’ve owned used six bookstores since 1989. A couple of them have been successful. The others failed. More pictures and history»

244 Commercial Street

Wild Hearts |
Mystik Moon
The out-of-control storefronts at 244 Commercial Street conceal one of the older buildings in town: a full Cape built around 1770. Like 234 Commercial Street, this building once had an ell extending to the sidewalk line that was at one time the Provincetown Gallery and Frame Makers. The current tenants include the Wild Hearts, which sells sex toys and accessories for women; and Mystik Moon, which specializes, as the name suggests, in the occult. More pictures and history»

246 Commercial Street

 
Porthole Building | Provincetown Bookshop | Galadriel’s Mirror

In an era when small-scale, independent bookselling seems to be as perilous a way to make a living as small-scale, independent fishing, it is a comfort in every way to walk into the Provincetown Bookshop, a general interest bookstore in congenially cramped quarters with smart selections in many fields. It has been in business for 78 years (as of 2010) — the last 47 of them under the same management and the last 70 of them exactly where you’ll find the store now: the Port-Hole Building, an Art Moderne commercial extension of Captain Philip Cook’s large, Greek Revival-style house, which was built around 1850. Look above the ocean-liner curves of the storefront, best from across the street, and you’ll see the old house clearly. More pictures and history»

246 Commercial Street

246 Commercial Street, Provincetown Bookshop, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

246 Commercial Street, Provincetown Bookshop, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

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

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

John Waters, by Sue Harrison.

John Waters, by Sue Harrison.

With independent booksellers imperiled, it’s a comfort in every way to walk into the Provincetown Bookshop, its congenially cramped quarters filled with smart selections. Capt. Philip Cook’s house was built around 1850. His granddaughter, Annie (Cook) Snow, sold it in 1939 to Paul Smith. He commissioned Brit Bolton to design an Art Moderne-style extension. Crisp as an ocean liner, with a big circular window, it was called the Port-Hole Building. Smith moved his bookshop here in 1940, when the Priscilla Alden Club Residence for Women opened upstairs. The store was taken over by the late Joel Newman and Elloyd Hanson. The artist Jane Kogan was employed here 40 years. John Waters worked here and remains a steady customer. The companion shop was Davy Jones’ Locker and, for more than 40 years, Galadriel’s Mirror, a jewelry store owned and run Bob Klein.


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.

247 Commercial Street

247 Commercial Street, the Crown & Anchor, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

247 Commercial Street, the Crown & Anchor, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

Hostelry is a sideline at the Crown & Anchor, the town’s “largest entertainment complex,” as it was in the mid-19th century, when Timothy Johnson built the Central House for entertainment, bowling, and drinking — and only later for lodging. The Central received victims of U-boat attacks off the Cape before the U.S. entered World War II. It was the Sea Horse Inn in the ’50s. Stan Sorrentino reopened it as the Crown & Anchor Motor Inn in 1962, with acts like Bobby Short. For a time, the entertainment included an attic-level cruising spot. The Crown was rebuilt after the 1998 Whaler’s Wharf fire. Under Rick Murray and William Dougal since 2001, its venues are the Crown cabaret, Paramount nightclub, Central House restaurant, Poolside bar, Wave video bar, and Vault leather bar. Headliners include Kate Clinton, Bobby Wetherbee, and Miss Richfield 1981. Carol Channing, Alan Cumming, and Tommy Tune were among recent guest stars.


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.

247 Commercial Street

 
Crown & Anchor

On a summer’s night, the Crown & Anchor can’t be missed. In fact, it can’t be ignored. Not only is it one of P-town’s most prominent facades, with its grand columned portico and tower, but performers from the Cabaret — usually in drag — boisterously regale passers-by. The hotel business is a sideline; this is the town’s “largest entertainment complex,” true to its roots in the mid-19th century, when Timothy P. Johnson built the Central House (its first name) as a public hall for shows and entertainment, a bowling alley and — quite as important — a saloon. More pictures and history»