551 Commercial Street

 
Even newcomers to Provincetown usually know within a few days the names of the theatrical luminaries who have spent time at land’s end; beginning, of course, with Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams. So I’ve long been mystified as to why it’s not better known that this was the summer home for years of Abram S. “Abe” Burrows (1910-1985), the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, lyricist and director. His two best-known musicals, Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, have probably been seen — in one incarnation or another — by more people than have ever attended an O’Neill or Williams play (for better or worse). Moreover, Burrows played an active role in local life in the 1950s and ’60s. More pictures and history»

554 Commercial Street

 

Arguably the most magisterial of the East End homes, 554 Commercial Street looks as if a head of government might be housed there. And, in a way, he was. Justice Robert A. Welsh of the Second District Court of Barnstable from 1933 to 1973 — the law in these parts for two score years, as were his father before him and his son to follow — bought this property in 1936. More history and pictures»

555 Commercial Street

She studied under Leopold Auer, putting her in the company of Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz and Efrem Zimbalist. She played a Guarnerius. She made her Carnegie Hall debut at 22, when The New York Times called her a “live wire” whose fire and speed gave her “all the certain quality absent in the artistic makeup of Heifetz.” She was Thelma Given (1896-1977), whose fame and age seemed inversely related. She and her mother both lived here. More pictures and history»

556 Commercial Street

Ethel Archer Ball ran her considerable real estate brokerage from here in the 1950s. Since 1983, this has been the home of Dr. Brian O’Malley and his wife, Dr. Wilsa Ryder, who practice together at Provincetown Medical Group, 30 Shank Painter Road. In 2007, the Massachusetts Medical Society named O’Malley one of 20 community clinicians of the year, noting that he has been “widely active in the community.” He has been chairman of the board of health and was, until 2011, medical director of Seashore Point and its predecessor, the Cape End Manor.

557 Commercial Street

The soul of the Blessing of the Fleet is of course Provincetown Harbor. But its heart could at one time be found at 557 Commercial Street, where Clement S. Silva (±1927-2008) and his wife, Ursula (Quade) Silva — yes, that would be Clem and Ursie — gave an annual party that “began with a few family members and over the years grew to become a festival of its own with hundreds of guests,” as his obituary described it. (“Clement S. Silva, 81,” The Banner, 4 September 2008.) Silva was born to Margaret (Dutra) Silva and Arthur B. Silva. He served in the Navy during World War II, then fished on the Shirley & Roland and the Two C’s (later the Nancy & Ricky), after which he became an ambulance driver and a firefighter, rising eventually to the post of town fire chief. Clem and Ursie weren’t the proprietors of Clem & Ursie’s but its namesakes through their children Clement A. Silva and Debra J. Silva, who were.