350 Commercial Street

Monty’s | Phenomena Estate Jewelry & Art

Capt. Alexander “Alec” Kemp (±1854-1946), master of the schooner Sea Fox, was described by The Advocate as the “last great Grand Banks skipper” at the time of his death at the age of 92. He lived at 350 Commercial Street. Born n Cape Breton, he arrived in Provincetown when he was 16 but spent most of his life at sea. (“Funeral Is Held for Captain Kemp; Death Ends Long Voyage of Cape End’s Grand Grand Banker, The Advocate, 17 January 1946.) “For 45 years, he fished on the perilous Grand Banks, making 49 trips in that period, doubling up with two trips a year when demand was good and conditions favorable. He was proud of his most unusual record — as well he might be — that he never lost a vessel, but even more important, never lost a man.” More history»

350A Commercial Street

Captain’s House

The Captain’s House, tucked at the end of a narrow walkway off Commercial Street, is a bed-and-breakfast with 12 rooms. Until the 2012 season, under the owner Michael P. Stetto, it catered to gay men generally and to “bears” in particular — typically hirsute, heavier set men whose appearance and demeanor is consciously the opposite of the hairless, lithe gay archetype. The new owners are Peter C. Bullis and Mauricio J. Zuleta. “It no longer caters to just bears and gay men, but it’s for everyone,” Bullis told me in August 2012. “The name will stay the same.” ¶ Updated 2012-08-21

351 Commercial Street

Former Fire House No. 5 | Good Scents for the Body

There are French doors these days on the truck bay, and it’s hard to imagine that the men who manned the Fire Department’s chemical extinguisher truck could have foreseen a time when the chemicals at No. 351 would be manufactured by Roger & Gallet and Caswell-Massey. But the bright red paint job helps evoke this building’s past as a fire house, which was in service until sometime in the mid 1940s. The building received differing designations over the years, depending in part on the equipment housed there, but it is referred to as No. 5 in a number of accounts. More pictures and history»

351A Commercial Street

The building directly behind the fire house was the home for many years of the Segura family. Capt. Lawrence Santos Segura (±1882-1949) was born in Olhão, Portugal. He came to Provincetown when he was 17, just at the turn of the 20th century. In January 1949, he was in charge of Capt. Henry Passion’s dragger, the Liberty Belle, which was tied up one afternoon at Town Wharf. One moment, Segura was talking to other fisherman on the pier. Not long after, his body was spotted floating in the water by the Gay Head, a scalloper out of New Bedford, and pulled aboard. Efforts to revive him were futile. A curate from St. Peter’s administered the last rites on the deck of the Gay Head. Segura’s widow, Almeda V. (Silva) Segura, continued to live here at least through the early 1960s. The Segura house was replaced by/reconstructed by [?] Nelson A. Hitchcock III and Corey Kustes.

† 351C Commercial Street

Blanche Lazzell Cottage

It’s been a full decade now, but it’s still hard to think that a building of such historic significance — the longtime waterfront studio of Blanche Lazzell (1878-1956), one of the most significant artists of Provincetown, which was depicted on the cover of 1989 monograph Blanche Lazzell — could have slipped under the radar and on to the rubble pile in 2002. More pictures and history»

352 Commercial Street

Tao Water Art Gallery II

The prolific and long-active ceramist Paul Bellardo (b 1924) briefly had a gallery here, in 1961 and 1962, which he ran with Hal “Whitt” Whitsitt. Known as the Galleria di Bellardo, it offered original ceramics, gold, graphic arts, painting and sculpture. Bellardo had earlier been at 198 Commercial Street and moved from here to 404 Commercial Street. While at No. 352, he also opened a Galleria di Bellardo in Greenwich Village, at 486 Sixth Avenue. More pictures and history»

353 Commercial Street

Kennedy Gallery and Studios

As the Tirca Karlis Gallery, directed by Tirca Cohen, this was not just a nexus of the Provincetown art scene in its heyday, but an important landmark for anyone who cared about modern American art. Consider the roster of “16 Americans” in July 1961. It included Milton Avery, Nell Blaine, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Goodnough, Sam Francis, Alfred Leslie, John Levee, Louise Nevelson, Theodoros Stamos and Joseph Stefanelli. More pictures and history»

353A-353B Commercial Street

Angels’ Landing (West buildings) | Café Dinara

Three buildings spill down to the waterfront from behind 353 Commercial Street. There is a little commercial unit on the square that has seen one coffee shop open after another in recent years. In this picture, taken in 2008, it was Cicchetti’s Espresso Bar, proferring “coffees and tiny nibbles.” That didn’t last long. By 2010, it was Mayorga’s Coffee Shop. Also gone. As of 2011, it was the Café Dinara. More pictures and history»

353½ Commercial Street

Julius Katzieff-Heather Bruce Studio

Among the last of the old, working, waterfront art studios in Provincetown is that used by the painter Heather Bruce (b 1957). Its lineage is impeccable, as it was constructed by her great-grandfather, Frank A. Days (±1849-1937), who was the town’s premier builder and the man whose lumber and coal yard — now the Fine Arts Work Center — once housed artists’ studios. Though it appears to be part of Angels’ Landing, 353½ (or 353C) Commercial Street occupies its own separate tax lot and is still owned by the Days/Bruce family. More pictures and history»

353-355 Commercial Street

Angels’ Landing (East buildings) | Birdie Silkscreen Studio | ScottCakes | Box Lunch

The Angela of Angel’s Landing was no angel — certainly not in the eyes of America’s photojournalists or its political left wing. She was Angela Calomiris (1916-1995), the daughter of Greek immigrants and a member of the celebrated Photo League in New York City. On 26 April 1949, she stunned her colleagues when she appeared at the trial of 11 Communists accused of plotting to overthrow the government and disclosed that she’d been an undercover agent of the F.B.I. since 1942. More pictures and history»

356 Commercial Street

356 Commercial Street, the Center Methodist Episcopal Church (ca 1890), courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

356 Commercial Street, the Center Methodist Episcopal Church (ca 1890), courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

The tower of the Italianate-style Provincetown Public Library is — and always was — a skyline ornament. It was even more imposing in 1860 when it was built as the Center Methodist Episcopal Church, with a steeple piercing the sky at 162 feet. The steeple came down after the Portland Gale of 1898, but the church inspired memorable paintings by Edward Hopper and many others. The Methodists sold it in 1958 to Walter Chrysler Jr., whose father founded the Chrysler Corporation. Working with the architect George Clements, he turned the church into the Chrysler Art Museum. “It collects and is interested in the visual arts rather than in any particular artists or group of artists or craftsmen,” Chrysler said in 1964. It did not last long here. In 1970, Chrysler moved the collection to Norfolk, Va., where it remains, as the Chrysler Museum of Art. He died in 1988.

356 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2003).

356 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2003).

Jules Brenner and Fred Jungman, who bought the building, reopened it briefly in 1974 as the Center for the Arts. Then Josephine and Salvatore Del Deo, Adelaide Kenney, Joseph Lema Jr., and Cyril Patrick Jr. persuaded the town to acquire the building to house a historical collection. The Provincetown Heritage Museum opened in 1976, a year after the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It included life-sized dioramas of the Adams Pharmacy and Public Library. Its astonishing, ship-in-a-bottle centerpiece was a 66½-foot-long, half-scale model of the schooner Rose Dorothea, built by Francis “Flyer” Santos from 1977 to 1988. It was so large that holes had to be cut in the ceiling of the main sanctuary to accommodate the masts. And its bowsprit poked into the next room. The museum sponsored the restoration of the trapboat Charlotte, to preserve a vestige of weir fishing. It closed in 2000.

Flyer Santos's half-scale "Rose Dorothea" model, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

Flyer Santos’s half-scale “Rose Dorothea” model, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

By this time, the Public Library had outgrown 330 Commercial. Voters approved turning the museum into the library in 2001, during the directorship of Debra DeJonker-Berry and chairmanship of Edward “Mick” Rudd. The architects were Perry Dean Rogers Partners. In 2002, the 29-foot-tall belfry was removed to permit structural work, including the addition of steel pilings. The interior reopened in 2005. The belfry returned in 2007. The project was finished in 2011. Today, the library is a center of civic life and a cultural destination, with the Rose Dorothea model, the Lipton Cup won by the original Rose Dorothea, paintings by notable artists and, outside, Tourists by Chaim Gross. Matt Clark is the current director.

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.

356 Commercial Street

Provincetown Public Library

The tower of the Provincetown Public Library is — and always was — a skyline ornament. But it was even more imposing in 1860 when it was built as the Center Methodist Church, with a steeple piercing the sky at 162 feet. The steeple came down after the Portland Gale of 1898, but the church nonetheless inspired Edward Hopper (as discussed by Stephen Borkowski with The New York Times), among other painters. The Methodists sold it in 1958 to Walter P. Chrysler Jr., whose father founded the Chrysler Corporation. He turned it into the Chrysler Art Museum, a fine-art collection now housed in Norfolk, Va. The old church was briefly the Center for the Arts before reopening in 1976 as the Provincetown Heritage Museum, curated by Josephine Del Deo. (Presciently, one of the life-size dioramas in the museum was “The 1873 Library,” whose wax-figure librarian, by Mary Bono, is shown above.) The museum’s astonishing, ship-in-a-bottle centerpiece was a half-scale model of the legendary schooner Rose Dorothea, built by Francis “Flyer” Santos. In 2005, the building began a new life as the Provincetown Public Library, replacing the Freeman building at 330 Commercial Street.

More pictures and history»

357 Commercial Street

Galería Cubana | (Formerly) Now Voyager Bookstore and Gallery

When 2011 began, Provincetown had three good independent bookstores. That astonishing figure yields an average of one good independent bookstore for every 1,000 year-round residents. If New York City, America’s publishing capital, enjoyed such a ratio, there would be 8,000 good independent bookstores throughout the five boroughs. (There aren’t.) But the realities of the upended publishing industry finally caught up with Mark Leach, proprietor of the 21-year-old Now Voyager Bookstore and Gallery for the previous nine seasons, who had “been serving the community’s gay and lesbian book needs with aplomb,” in the words of Kim Grant’s Explorer’s Guide to Cape Cod. At the end of 2011, he finally had to close the store. More pictures and history»

358 Commercial Street

You think repair work on the Bourne Bridge or traffic on Route 6 make it hard to get to Provincetown? Stella, Albert and Helene Edel had to elude the Nazis to get here in March 1941. Albert (1890-1961) was a French artist and art instructor. Stella, a painter, was his wife. Helene was their 11-year-old daughter. Driven from the town of Péronne in northern France by the advance of invading troops in 1940, the Edels fled to Paris. “When they saw that, too, was about to fall into the hands of the Germans, they hurried on to southern France and then into Spain, where they tried to find passage on a vessel that would take them to the United States,” The Advocate recounted. “However, the Spanish refused to let them depart, More history»

359 Commercial Street

Mews Condominium | Luxories | Harbor Lounge | Patty Deluca Gallery | Century 21 Shoreland | Sophia Reznick Gallery | SS Cherry Vintage Clothing | Anathan Benson Group | Native Art

The nature of this charming cul-de-sac inspired the name of the Mews Restaurant and Café, which opened here in 1961 as the Inn at the Mews and remained until 1993. It then moved to 429 Commercial Street while keeping its name, which is now somewhat hard to understand at first glance since the current restaurant property looks nothing like a mews. The restaurant was established by Nicholas “Nicky” Wells (d 1985), a real estate developer, and his wife, the artist Ray Martan Wells (1908-2011). They are the namesakes of Nicky’s Park and of the Ray and Nicky Wells Conservation Area. More pictures and history»

† 359R Commercial Street

Dutras’ fueling station

On the site where Nicholas and Ray Wells would build the Mews in 1962, the Dutra family ran a waterfront fueling station for many years. Their vessels included the Millie, shown above, and the Elsie Howard. You can see the big bright Texaco star on the landside shed, though Millie is in Mobiloil livery. Leno Perry Dutra (d 1954), ran the business, succeeding his father, Joseph P. Dutra.

360 Commercial Street

Mad as a Hatter

This commercial building is on the same tax lot as 358 Commercial Street and, like No. 358, is owned by descendants of Ida Benhardina Johnson (d 1950). Her daughter, Stella, acquired the property in 1947. She and her husband, the artist Albert Edel (1890-1961), became the owners in 1949. I’m presuming that his gallery would have been in this building. Their daughter, Helene (Edel) Buker, who had escaped with them from Europe as the Nazis swept into France, took title in 2000. More history»

361 Commercial Street

Wildflower Home

There seems to have been a new store here every couple of years in recent memory. For a time around 2008, it was Undercover, a bed, body and bath shop. By 2010, it was the East End branch of Província, a shop specializing in Portuguese housewares and decorative arts at 140 Commercial Street. In 2011, it was taken over by the artist and florist Jeff Fresenius as the East End home of Wildflower. More history»

361A-361C Commercial Street

Northern Lights Hammocks

T. Gandolfo and Celine Gandolfo are the proprietors of Northern Lights Hammocks, and the owners, through the China Trust, of the three buildings that spill down to the beach behind 361 Commercial Street, which they also own. With its tangerine paint job and the sculptural hammock stands displayed outside, Northern Lights is certainly the most attention-getting of the three. There used to be a Northern Lights Leather store, too. The intervening two buildings contain three condominium apartments. More pictures»

† 362 Commercial Street

Tarvers Package Store

Anthony C. Tarvers and his family operated a liquor store in a long, skinny structure at No. 362 from the 1930s at least through the later 1960s. This odd little building also seems to be the one that Althea Boxell had in mind when she described a shop in which the artist Arthur V. Diehl (1870-1929) once worked. In Boxell’s 11th Scrapbook, she notes that Diehl “painted a dollar bill on the floor so real, everyone tried to pick it up.” The building can be seen at the left-hand edge of Diehl’s handsome Provincetown cityscape of 1913, which is centered on the adjoining house at 364 Commercial Street. Helen and Napi Van Dereck own both the Diehl painting and the property, a tax lot encompassing No. 362 and No. 364. More pictures and history»

362 Commercial Street


The title tells the story. It is Essentials. And it is essential: a mini-general store and micro-grocery store that seems to have just about any needed little item that one forgot to get elsewhere, including a wide selection of plastic beads. (It is also not Utilities, so please don’t come in looking for a Thomas Paul melamine resin turtle platter.) The store was established in 1978 by the parents of Steven R. Katz, owner of Norma Glamp’s, at 212 Commercial, and Memories, at 169 Commercial. For a time, it did business next door, where Mad as a Hatter is now. The business was purchased in 1997 by Jill Vaughan, Deb Breedlove and Laura Lenza. More pictures and history»

364 Commercial Street

Gail Browne Gallery | Sparks

Though considerably altered, the old house at 364 Commercial Street, with its cross-gabled roof, is still recognizable in outline as the central structure in Arthur V. Diehl’s lovely painting Provincetown (1913), in the collection of Helen and Napi Van Dereck — who also own this property and the adjacent No. 362. Tenants in recent years have included the Sparks jewelry store, a massage parlor called Healing Work, La Spiaggia (the beach, in Italian) and the Gail Browne Gallery. More pictures and history»

366 Commercial Street

Kobalt Gallery

Capt. Louis Santos (b ±1880), skipper of the dragger Atlanta, and his wife, Mary, bought this house in 1918 and celebrated their 25th anniversary here in 1931. Seven years later, Captain Santos almost drowned when he fell while climbing on to the Cape Cod Cold Storage wharf from his boat, and so was weighed down in the icy water by heavy clothes and boots that he could barely cling to the wharf pilings. Manuel H. Jason and his wife owned the house in the 1950s. I’m presuming this is the same Jason who operated a barber shop in the front-yard commercial annex in the 1940s. More pictures and history»

368 Commercial Street

Gallery Inn | Yates & Kennedy | Maison Home Décor

The main building on this lot, which is also known as 3 Johnson Street, currently serves as the Gallery Inn, with three efficiency apartments. It is operated by Lenore Luttinger, who also owns the building. More apparent to passersby is the one-story commercial extension that was built after the 1940s into what was once a large side yard between Johnson and Arch Streets. More pictures and history»

371-373 Commercial Street

Pepe’s Wharf Restaurant | Bowersock Gallery | Go Fish | Under Glass Custom Framing

Pepe’s Wharf may be the loveliest and most inviting of all of Provincetown’s little waterside shopping and dining enclaves — the Mews, Angels’ Landing, Designers’ Dock — thanks to its entrance portal, multiple levels, lush plantings and numerous corners, around which the passageway down to the restaurant and the beach keeps unfolding. It was developed in 1966 by Nils W. Berg (d 1994) and Eva (Kaye) Berg (1920-2009), just four years after Nicholas and Ray Wells had developed the Mews, at 359 Commercial Street. And the property is still in the hands of the Berg family, almost a half century later. “Pepe,” incidentally, seems to have been the nickname of the Bergs’ son Nils (b ±1955). More pictures and history»

372 Commercial Street


Two great sunburst pediments, at the front and side entrances, lend considerable distinction to this house, which was the longtime home of Mary (Cabral) Enos (±1882-1963), the daughter of Capt. Joseph Cabral and Rose Cabral. She was graduated in 1903 from what was then the Hyannis Normal School and began teaching at the Eastern School, 492-494 Commercial Street, which is now the Schoolhouse Gallery. More pictures and history»

375-377 Commercial Street

Silk & Feathers

Provincetown hacks have surely transported far more than their share of unusual, eccentric and colorful characters over the decades. But only one has transported the President of the United States. The driver’s name was Josiah L. “Si” Young (b ±1862), who later helped his wife run an antiques store here. The president’s name was Theodore Roosevelt, and he was on his way in August 1907 from the Town Wharf to the hilltop where he was to lay the cornerstone for the Pilgrim Monument. A horse-drawn Victoria carriage, rented from Boston, was put under Young’s command, with Secret Service agents on all sides. “That was the most jittery experience I ever had and I thought we would never get to the top of that hill,” More pictures and history»

376 Commercial Street

Womencrafts | Dancing Turnip

It seems fitting, at least in some ways, that a store devoted to women and women’s interests — Kathryn Livelli (left) owns Womencrafts and runs it with her partner, Wendy Hinden (right) — should be in what was once the home of one of Provincetown’s most intrepid women: Viola Cook. She earned her reputation for courageousness by accompanying her husband, Capt. John Atkins Cook (d 1937), on his multiyear whaling trips to the Arctic. More pictures and history»

378 Commercial Street

Somerset House Inn

Stephen Cook (1817-1888), whose house this was — that’s his fourth wife, the former Jennifer E. Churchill, at left — was a significant figure in the development of Provincetown and especially of this neighborhood, where he possessed not only this conspicuous dwelling but storehouses across the road and, beyond them, a wharf at what is now 381 Commercial Street. This business was passed on to his nephew, George O. Knowles (b 1842), whose mother, Delia (1821-1898), was Stephen Cook’s sister. Cook was a longtime officer of the First National Bank and served as its president for the last 11 years of his life, at which time the bank’s stock was trading at its highest price ever. More pictures and history»

379-379A Commercial Street

Wired Puppy Specialty Coffee & Tea | Iona Print Studio

No offense intended to the popular Wired Puppy coffee house, but the most interesting view of 379 Commercial Street is from the beach side, where a long, low former fish house can be seen (pictured above). Leno P. Dutra, who had a fueling station nearby at 359R Commercial Street, ran his taxi service from this address in the 1930s. In the mid 1950s, it was an Italian restaurant known as Sorrento. Perhaps not enough customers returned to Sorrento because, by the early 1960s, it had become La Cucina del Re (the King’s Kitchen). More pictures and history»

† Wharf at 381-383 Commercial Street

George O. Knowles Wharf

Among the richer wharves historically was that built by Stephen Cook, of 378 Commercial Street, and best known as the George O. Knowles Wharf, after Cook’s nephew. It was home of a renowned fishing fleet, including the Carrie D. Knowles, named for Knowles’s daughter. It served as the first home of the influential Beachcombers association, long since hunkered down at 463 Commercial Street. It briefly harbored the Casino, one of the earliest semi-fancy nightspots in town. And it was destroyed on that long-remembered night in November 1926 when the Coast Guard’s storm-tossed cutter USCG Morrill, on rum-running interdiction duty, caused more havoc in Provincetown in a few hours than bootleggers caused throughout Prohibition. Bull Ring Wharf, No. 381-383, is successor to the Knowles Wharf. More pictures and history»

381-383 Commercial Street

Bull Ring Wharf | Kidstuff

Above the storefront, the wonderfully plain facade of No. 381 attests to its utilitarian origins as a store house at the foot of the George O. Knowles Wharf property. The original wharf, then owned by the Higgins Lumber Company, was destroyed in 1926 when the Coast Guard cutter USCG Morrill drifted amok during a powerful storm. Higgins continued to own the property until 1948, when it was purchased by Thomas A. “Tommy” Francis and his wife, Deola. They ran it as the Bull Ring Apartments, succeeded in 1962 Munroe G. Moore and his wife, Mary. More pictures and history»

382 Commercial Street

Egeli Gallery

This storefront space is important historically as the Jules Brenner shop and gallery, from 1967 to 1974. Brenner (1917-1991) was a silversmith and goldsmith who worked elegantly in the Modernist vocabulary, creating stylish jewelry and accessories with great biomorphic flair. David Mayo recalled the gold jewelry as “spectacular.” Brenner’s wife, Lee (b 1926), helped in the management of the shop. As a gallery proprietor, Brenner showed the work of Red Grooms and Mimi Gross among others. More pictures and history»

384 Commercial Street

384 House | Esmond-Wright Gallery

This striking double-bay house, which can easily be picked out of photographs taken of the near East End wharves at the turn of the century, has accommodated visitors for more than a half century. Capt. Arthur Duarte (±1902-2002) and his wife, Mary (Flores) Duarte, ran it in the 1950s and early 60s as the Casa Dominho, which was perhaps a contraction of the name of Domingos Godinho, who once lived here. Duarte, a native of Lisbon, was the owner and captain of several fishing vessels from the 1930s through the 1960s, including the Serafina (sometimes spelled Seraphina), the Yankee, and the Skipper. He lived to be 100. More pictures and history»

385 Commercial Street

September Morn Fine Estate Jewelry | September Morn Private Estates | Ptown Scoop

The larger, harborside building on this property was once the Vinton Studios. Opened in 1913, these “were the first studios for general rent in Provincetown,” Ross Moffett wrote in Art in Narrow Streets (1964). They were also the home of two very significant figures on the Provincetown cultural scene: Mary Grove Bacon Bicknell (d 1968), organizer of the Wharf Players Theater at 83 Commercial Street (obituary in the Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell), and her husband, William Harry Warren Bicknell (1860-1947), a noted etcher who was — The Advocate said astutely — “especially noteworthy for his fluent lines, his rare use of white spaces and his economy of unessential detail.” (Biographical sketch at Gallery Ehva.) More pictures and history»

386 Commercial Street

Waterford Inn – Café – Tavern

“Captain Lavender’s Deck” at the Waterford is not some sort of coy code to entice gay patrons. No, this property once was home to Captain Lavender — in fact, the Captains Lavender: Robert M. Lavender (1847-1928) and Stephen S. Lavender (1852-1910), who appears to have been Robert’s younger uncle. (Stephen’s much older brother, Capt. Joseph A. Lavender, was Robert’s father. Joseph was lost at sea in 1870.) The family came from Nova Scotia, as did Robert’s wife, Louisa J. (1847-1920), herself a remarkable woman. More pictures and history»

389-391 Commercial Street

Blue Gallery | Blueberry Lane Pottery

This is among the terrifically-evocative-because-largely-unreconstructed utilitarian waterfront structures of the East End. Storefront tenants have included: • The Pilgrim Bar and/or Pilgrim Grill (depending on what day the advertisement or newspaper story came out), run in the 1930s by George W. “Mac” McLaughlin, a chess and billiard player who was also renowned for his fried clams, and in the 1940s by Howard “Poppy” Wenzel. • Pala Batik was founded in the early 1950s by Jack Larned and his wife Eleni (Papparasiliou) Larned. More pictures and history»

† 389R Commercial Street

Provincetown Fisheries plant

Torn from today’s headlines: Environmental disaster! Illegal drainage and discharges into the harbor! Construction work overnight and on weekends! Incessant commercial traffic! Out-of-towners trampling on town residents’ rights! The impending end of the fishing economy! A fight pitting hardscrabble Provincetown against the genteel tourist trade! And to think … it all happened in the late 1940s. More pictures and history»

† Wharf at 389-395 Commercial Street

David Conwell Wharf, or Cannery Wharf

Cannery Wharf may not have been Provincetown’s Motif Number 1 — there are too many competitors — but it certainly was one of the more frequently painted wharves and for good reason. Its offset pier sheds, far out in the harbor, one of them crowned by a cupola, made for a compelling composition. In the painting above, by Arthur V. Diehl (1870-1929), Cannery Wharf was rendered like a 17th-century Dutch landscape. Other images follow, from the collection of Helen and Napi Van Dereck: by Harold Walker (b 1890), W. H. W. Bicknell (1860-1947) and Gerrit Beneker (1862-1934). More pictures and history»

392 Commercial Street

Waterford Inn – Café – Tavern

Technically, 392 Commercial Street doesn’t exist any longer. It’s part of a unified parcel with 386 Commercial Street. But it is such a distinctively individual building — as it was originally — that it gets its own entry; at least enough of one to note that it served as an adjunct to the Gray Inn, run from 1931 to 1946 by David L. Allen, then after 1946 by Jere Snader. It has also played an annex role for the successors to Gray, including the Ocean’s Inn, the Commons and the Waterford. Other commercial tenants included Polly’s Powder Puff in the late 1930s.

393 Commercial Street


In events 40 years apart, 393 Commercial Street has embodied two very different trends in the development of modern Provincetown: once as the Sun Gallery, an especially provocative and influential establishment of the later 1950s and early 1960s; and currently as Utilities, which is more than 15 years old and reflects the stylish domestication of Provincetown. In 1995, when Hunter O’Hanian and Jeffry Cismoski were looking for a place to house their new business, the idea of a design-conscious houseware store was still somewhat incongruous. More pictures and history»

394 Commercial Street

White Caps Rooms and Apartments

In the first half of the 20th century, when there were few women doctors to be found anywhere in America, Provincetown had at least three — surely a great many more per capita than almost any settlement in the country. Dr. J. M. Winslow, an osteopathic physician, had her office here in the early 1930s.

Jessica and Joseph Lema Jr. lived here as newlyweds until they moved in 1939 to 10 Cudworth Street, where Mrs. Lema was still living more than 70 years later. A store called Tribal Offerings was here in the early 2000s, followed in 2003 by the Backshore Gallery, founded and run by Peter Clemons and Marianne Benson. More pictures and history

396 Commercial Street

John Derian New England

One of the handsomest houses in Provincetown is this hipped-roof, Federal-style home from 1798, with its gorgeous (and slightly later) Ionic portico. It was in the Cook and Small families for many decades, then in the Hall family from 1938 to 2007, when it was introduced to John Derian, a purveyor on East Second Street in Manhattan of découpage objects, textiles, furniture, rugs, art and ephemera. “I know it was totally the wrong thing to say to the real estate agent,” Derian told David Colman of Martha Stewart Living in 2009, “but I kept walking around saying: ‘I love this house. I love this house.'” You can’t blame him. More pictures and history»

† 397 Commercial Street

Cape Cod School of Art

An intriguing discovery on a 1919 street atlas from John G. Edwards is that the small building on the site of what is now the Ernden Fine Art Gallery was identified as the “Cap[e] Cod School of Art.” This corresponds neatly with a caption in the Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell (Book 6, Page 5): “The beginning of the Hawthorne art class. About 1900. On beach, just below Lizzie’s shop” — a reference to Lizzie Livingston’s Candy Shop at 409 Commercial Street. More pictures and history»

397 Commercial Street

Ernden Fine Art Gallery | Cinnamon Sands | Pat’s Happy Park

There is a concept in real estate, “highest and best use,” that assigns value to a property based on the maximum feasible development it could sustain. By this standard, Elena Curtis Hall’s extraordinary waterfront parcels in the near East End, chiefly a parking lot, are badly misused. But from the vantage of civic amenities, Hall — known to some as the “parking lot lady” — has preserved a great patch of sky and an almost unrivaled view of the waterfront from Commercial Street. It’s hard to imagine a higher or better use. More pictures and history»

398 Commercial Street

There are few better examples in town of the profound difference that stewardship can make than in the contrast between 398 and 396 Commercial. Radically different now, they were virtually identical Federal-style houses a half-century ago (apart from the fact that No. 396 had a portico and central chimney). Now, you’d need a practiced eye to discern their kinship. That’s not to say the modification was a bad thing to do. Certainly, it brings a commercial life to the facade that No. 396 lacks. But it did deprive a once-noble structure of much of its dignity. More pictures and history»