† 300 Commercial Street

One of the best-known photographs of a town in thrall to the fishery was this view, taken around 1880, showing a handsome home surrounded by fish-drying racks known as flakes. I believe this house stood on the lot of what is now the Mayflower Café, based on its description by Althea Boxell as Elisha Tilson’s house, located up Small’s Court and behind Lewis’s New York Store. More history»

300 Commercial Street

Mayflower Café

It wasn’t too many years ago, certainly into the 21st century, that your paper placemat at the Mayflower Café still identified Cape Cod as the “Summer Home of President Kennedy.” Things are like that at the Mayflower; suspended pleasantly in time, and great fun for that reason. You’re seated in deep booths, surrounded by Nancy Whorf’s murals and Jake Spencer’s caricatures, and you can still get chewy dinner rolls and hot Indian pudding à la mode. By the time John F. Kennedy was elected president, the Mayflower had already been in business 32 years. And it has just kept on going. It is today — as it was in 1929 — owned and run by the Janoplis family, which explains the presence of a Greek flag and a Tsolias figurine at the bar. More pictures and history»

301 Commercial Street

Friends of Heart

This was once a two-story building and it housed Malchman’s clothing store for a brief spell in the early 1920s. The longtime commercial tenants in the 1950s and 1960s were Jim’s Camera Shop, run by Jim Cummings, in the east storefront, and the Provincetown Liquor Mart, run by Manny Lewis, in the west storefront. The photo store evolved into the Town Camera Shop. One if its best-known employees was Ruth J. “Kitty” Dewey (1919-2006), an artists and activist. More pictures and history»

303 Commercial Street

Post Office Café & Cabaret

Though Land’s End Marine Supply is strongly identified with the east end of downtown, this was its birthplace in 1940 — founded by Joseph E. Macara (1904-2000) — and was its home for four years. Years before that, it was Silva’s Fish Market. After Land’s End moved out, the building was home in the early 1960s to the Wreck Club, run by Manuel Souza. The longtime commercial tenant has been the Post Office Café & Cabaret, one of the busiest nightclubs in town. It does not get its name from having once been the Provincetown post office. Rather, as a 1975 business directory explained, its first-floor décor came from a former post office in Ossining, N.Y., also known as the home of the Sing Sing penitentiary. More pictures and history»

304 Commercial Street

Michael’s Custom Jewelers

In the late 1950s and ’60s, this was the Nutt Hutt, a name that ranks among the best. As the title strongly suggests, it was where Provincetowners could buy fresh almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts, as well as candies made by the Pennsylvania Dutch. It shared quarters for a time with the White Whale Pantry. Nutt Hutt was established by Beverly L. Spencer (±1923-2007), who also owned the Apple Tree Cottage at 534 Commercial Street. (“Beverly L. Spencer, 84,” The Banner, 26 April 2007.) In recent years, this was Cape Cod Sweat & Tee Outlet and is now Michael’s Custom Jewelers, named for Michael Burris.