1 Commercial Street

1 Commercial Street, the Provincetown Inn (1930s), courtesy of the Provincetown Inn.

1 Commercial Street, the Provincetown Inn (1930s), courtesy of the Provincetown Inn.

The Provincetown Inn Waterfront Resort and Conference Center is so large that its parking lot could hold the Crown & Anchor, Boatslip and Land’s End Inn — combined. The developer was Joshua Paine, who built the Castle at 2 Commercial and the Cape Cod, Colonial, and Puritan cold storage plants. The original building, with its two-story atrium (pictured), opened in 1925. During the 1930s, it was briefly the Sippican Hotel. It was taken over in 1935 by the dynamic Chester Peck Jr., who enlarged the inn beyond recognition after World War II, when it was used as a Coast Guard training center. In 1946, Peck opened the 255-seat Breakwater Room, with murals by Charles Heinz. Then he had the audacity to propose a four-acre offshore landfill. Beginning in 1957, a new peninsula was created for a parking lot, a motel extension, a pool in the shape of a Pilgrim hat (pictured), and, in 1967, a recreation and entertainment pavilion designed by Burnett Vickers. (Grace Jones and Phyllis Diller performed there — not on the same bill — as did Wayland Flowers and his puppet Madame.)

Mural by Don Aikens (ca 1966), 1 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Mural by Don Aikens (ca 1966), 1 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Swimming pool (not yet cleaned for the summer), 1 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

Swimming pool (not yet cleaned for the summer), 1 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

A redecoration begun in 1966 yielded charming murals by Don Aikens, based on old postcards and vintage photos. The most ambitious suite, in the Tiffany Room, recreates the Long Point settlement. Aikens also created “three-dimensional murals” with elements like a sawed-apart boat hull (pictured) to give them actual depth. Peck sold the business in 1972 to a group of investors from whom Brooke Evans emerged as the owner in 1977. The pavilion was demolished in 1997. The Evans family still runs the inn. Evan, Brooke’s son, is the hotel manager and president of the Provincetown Inn Cooperative.


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.

1 Commercial Street

 
Provincetown Inn

Well worth a visit even if you’re not staying here, the sprawling Provincetown Inn Waterfront Resort and Conference Center — part of which stands on four acres of landfill created especially for the hotel — is so large that its parking lot alone could fit the Crown & Anchor and the Boatslip and the Land’s End Inn combined. The principal attraction are historical murals of Provincetown and Long Point, painted by Don Aikens from 1966 to 1972. But you shouldn’t miss the two-story interior court of the original inn, built 1923/25, or the outdoor swimming pool in the shape of a Pilgrim hat, tapering to the deep end, with symmetrical staircases on either side of the shallow end, where a brim ought to be. More pictures and history»

† 2 Commercial Street

 
Castle Dune

Commanding a view as far as Wellfleet, the Louis Hollingsworth home was known as the Castle or Castle Dune; also as Pilgrims’ Landing (still visible on the gateposts). It was next owned by George Paine. Anton von Dereck had an art metal studio here. In 1936, the property was bought by Dr. Carl Murchison, a well-known psychologist at Clark University. He and his wife, Dorothea, collected works by artists connected with the town. Ross Moffett estimated there were 250 paintings and 150 prints and other works. Almost all were lost in 1956, when the house burned down. The Murchisons, vowing to rebuild, created Provincetown’s most distinctive work of mid-century modernism.

2 Commercial Street

 
Murchison House

There are few buildings as startling — in this town of gabled roofs and shingles — as the modernist landmark designed in 1959-60 for Carl and Dorothea Murchison by TAC, The Architects Collaborative, with Robert S. McMillan nominally in charge. Built less than a decade after Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, 2 Commercial Street is a two-level International style slab with walls of glass. Because Walter Gropius (1883-1969) was a partner in TAC, this is frequently referred to in town as the “Gropius house.” Indeed, The Advocate said in 1960 that Gropius “had much to do” with it. More pictures and history»

2 Commercial Street

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

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

Commanding a view to Wellfleet, Castle Dune (or simply, the Castle) was purchased in 1936 by Dr. Carl Murchison, a renowned psychologist at Clark University. He and his wife, Dorothea, collected works by American artists, especially those connected with the town. Almost all were lost in 1956, when the house burned. In rebuilding three years later, the Murchisons created the town’s landmark of mid-century Modernism, a hilltop promontory inspired by Japanese temples and designed by TAC, The Architects Collaborative of Cambridge. A core for sleeping and dining is wrapped in glass and verandas, for sweeping views of land and sea. It’s frequently referred to as the “Gropius house,” because the most famous of TAC’s eight partners, Walter Gropius, worked with Murchison on concepts, then collaborated with Robert McMillan and Benjamin Thompson. Furnishings by Hans Wegner and Kaj Franck came from Design Research, or D|R, founded by Thompson as a service for TAC clients.

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

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

The house cost $358,000 (roughly $2.9 million today), in part because of its large expanses of thermopane glass, central air-conditioning, and exteriors of teak and cypress. The terrace, paved in terrazzo, was intended for dancing. The swimming pool included cabanas. A few months after a house-warming party attended by Frank Sinatra, among others, Dr. Murchison died in 1961. The property was acquired from Barbara Murchison in 2008 by Clifford Schorer of Southborough, Mass., who undertook an ambitious restoration in connection with the overall redevelopment of the 3.5-acre site as a subdivision. (See 6 Pilgrims’ Landing.)


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.

7 and 10 Commercial Street

7 Commercial Street, Delt Haven, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

7 Commercial Street, Delt Haven, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

7 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

7 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2012).

Named for the Pilgrims’ embarkation port in Holland, the pretty cottage colony of Delft Haven was begun around 1934 by Ralph Carpenter, retired general manager of the Caribbean Sugar Company of Manopia, Cuba, who lived at 11 Commercial. Carpenter was among the first hosts to offer amenities like full bathrooms. An early brochure said patronage was “restricted.” That probably meant Jews were unwelcome, though Carpenter would have gladly excluded homosexuals, too. Delft Haven sits astride the road, with compounds at No. 7 and No. 10. Under the ownership of Peter Boyle, it became an early condo association, in 1977. (Bayberry Bend, 910 Commercial, was the first.) Delft Haven was the setting of the annual White Party starting in the 1980s when Ken Kruse and Don Cote lived there. White costumes only; anything else goes. Had he lived to see the day, Carpenter would have turned white as a ghost.


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.