3 Carver Street


The best vantage from which to appreciate 3 Carver Street is outside the old aquarium. It rises on a small bluff over the jumbled business street, looking like a great white Greek Revival ghost, understated but imposing. For much of the early 20th century, this was the home of Frank Knowles Atkins, a Provincetown native whose grandfather, Samuel Knowles, ran the stage coach service to Orleans. More pictures and history»

3 Carver Street

3 Carver Street, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

3 Carver Street, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

The best vantage from which to appreciate 3 Carver is outside the old aquarium. The house rises on a small bluff over Commercial Street, looking like a great Greek Revival ghost, understated but imposing. This was once home to Frank Knowles Atkins, whose grandfather Samuel Knowles ran the stage coach to Orleans. Atkins was bequeathed his grandfather’s livery business, at what is now 293 Commercial, where he built the Pilgrim Theater. He was also credited with having started the first motorized “accommodation” service; an omnibus that made its way up along and down along through town, picking up and discharging passengers. In the 1940s, No. 3 was run as Grays guest house. It was acquired in 1967 by Barbara Baker and her husband, Robert Baker, who designed and built furniture that he displayed in a shop at Kiley Court.


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.

8 Carver Street

 
Brass Key Guesthouse
The Queen Anne House, a unit of the Brass Key Guesthouse compound, is a wondrously eclectic confection of many gables, Carpenter Gothic detailing and gorgeous Ionic columns. As transient lodging, the house has returned to its role in the 19th century, when it was the Cottage Inn, a boarding house run by Caleb Cook. It is also strongly associated with both the nearby Gifford House and the old First National Bank of Provincetown. That connection was first embodied in the person of Moses Nickerson Gifford, whose home this was until his death in 1918. Gifford was the son of James Gifford, namesake of the hotel up the street. He went into the banking business, beginning in 1866 as a cashier at the national bank. Twenty-two years later, in 1888, Gifford assumed the presidency of the bank, which he held for three full decades. But that alone greatly understates his civic role. More history and pictures»

9-11 Carver Street

 
Gifford House Inn
In a resort town where accommodations come and go by the year — and by the dozens — the Gifford House Inn is an astonishing stalwart. It is more than 140 years old. With 77 Bradford Street, it occupies the crest of Mill Hill, from which surprisingly generous vistas of the town and harbor can be enjoyed. Beautiful, it is not. Grand, it is not. But with 26 guest rooms and the Club Purgatory, Porchside Lounge and Thai Sushi Café by Ying, it’s certainly lively. And that’s saying a lot for a hotel of its age — whatever that age may be. More pictures and history»

9-11 Carver Street

9-11 Carver Street, the Gifford House, courtesy of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

9-11 Carver Street, the Gifford House, courtesy of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

9-11 Carver Street, the Gifford House, by G. H. Nickerson (ca 1898), courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

9-11 Carver Street, the Gifford House, by G. H. Nickerson (ca 1898), courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project.

The Gifford House Inn is an astonishing stalwart — at least 145 years old — and a hub of gay life, in Club Purgatory and at the Porchside Lounge. Commanding the crest of Mill Hill, and generous vistas of town and harbor, it may have been open as early as 1858 and was surely running by 1870. The oldest section is the wing behind the parking court, with its deep porch and Greek Revival-style pilasters. James Gifford owned his namesake hotel until 1903. George Merrill and his son Daniel Merrill ran it for the next 60 years, adding the big wing along Bradford in 1910. They sold it in 1963 to a group including Francis and Ruth Rogers, of the Norse Wall House.

9-11 Carver Street, the Porchside Lounge, by David Jarrett (1989).

9-11 Carver Street, the Porchside Lounge, by David Jarrett (1989).

The Gifford’s cultural apogee was in the late ’60s, when the Act IV Café Experimental Theater operated in the cellar (where Club Purgatory is now), under Robert Costa, Doug Ross, and Eric Krebs. Its 1966 production of Dutchman by Amiri Baraka (then known as LeRoi Jones) starred Beverly Bentley, who was married to Norman Mailer, and Charles Gordone, an actor and playwright who won a Pulitzer for No Place to be Somebody. Next year, the 27-year-old Al Pacino appeared in The Indian Wants the Bronx. Jean Frottier, who perished at sea in 2012, owned the hotel from 1976 to 1988. The Gifford’s current proprietor, James Foss, also owns the Watership Inn. Its Thai Sushi Café closed not long ago.


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.

10 Carver Street

Brass Key Guesthouse
As part of the Brass Key Guesthouse compound, 10 Carver Street is designated the Victorian House. But it could just as well be called the “Second Empire House,” since that’s the style in which it was built, probably around 1865. At the turn of the 20th century, it was the home of H. P. Hughes, who operated a staple and fancy dry goods store under his own name on the ground floor of King Hiram’s Lodge. For many years, this house or the abutter at 12 Carver Street were home to William Henry Young and his family. Like his next-door neighbor, Moses N. Gifford, Young was a man whose presence was felt in many fields; so many, in fact, it’s hard to know where to start. More pictures and history»

12 Carver Street

Brass Key Guesthouse
Now designated the Gatehouse as part of the large and eclectic Brass Key Guesthouse compound, 12 Carver Street was built in the 1850s. William H. Young and his family lived here and next door, 10 Carver Street, where their lives are discussed more fully. The Rev. James F. Albion of the Universalist church lived here in the late 1920s. In the 1930s, Mrs. Fred H. Graham [?] held weekly duplicate bridge contests here, the results of which she would chronicle for The Advocate in a column called “Tops and Bottoms.” (This seems the perfect point on which not to comment.) More pictures and history»