91 Commercial Street

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

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

Dean Hara and Rep. Gerry Studds, courtesy of Dean Hara.

Dean Hara and Rep. Gerry Studds, courtesy of Dean Hara.

Gerry Studds not only represented the town on Capitol Hill from 1973 to 1997, he lived here during his 12 terms in Congress and several years thereafter, sharing this home with Dean Hara, whom he married in 2004. Studds was known nationally as the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives and known locally, The Banner said, “for his accessibility to constituents and his effective advocacy of their concerns, notably in matters of the environment, health care, fishing and maritime issues.” His name is commemorated in the Studds/Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay. David Carnivale was the original architect of this house in 1983, while Thomas Green presided during construction and a 1999 renovation. The central roof dormer was reduced noticeably for the current owner, Michel Wallerstein of New York.


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.

91 Commercial Street

 
Gerry E. Studds (1937-2006) not only represented Provincetown on Capitol Hill, he lived here during his 12 terms in Congress and for several years after that. Studds served from 1973 to 1997, representing Cape Cod, the islands and the South Shore. He was known nationally as the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives but even better known locally, The Banner said, “for his accessibility to constituents and his effective advocacy of their concerns, notably in matters of the environment, health care, fishing and maritime issues.” His name is commemorated in the Studds/Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, three miles north of the cape. More history»

93 Commercial Street

93 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

93 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

Frank Vasello, by Nathan Butera.

Frank Vasello, by Nathan Butera.

Relish, the westernmost food store on Commercial Street, is notable for baked goods that unfailingly induce reckless temptation. The front of its signature T-shirt says simply, “Hey Cupcake.” And that’s all you need to know. The Provincetown Historic Survey places the date of construction at 1780 and identifies the building as having once been the J. Nickerson Store. In the 1930s, Marion “Bert” Perry — the nephew of Capt. Marion Augustine “Bertie” Perry of Rose Dorothea fame — opened Perry’s Market here. Other food markets here were the Seaside Deli and T. R. Scherer, which offered fresh French and sourdough bread daily. With two partners, the artist Frank Vasello opened Relish in 2001. He is now the sole proprietor.


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.

96 Commercial Street

96 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

96 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

Colossal corner pilasters mark this robust, yet refined, Greek Revival-style home, which was built in the mid-19th century. In recent years, it was Captain Lysander’s Inn, after Capt. Lysander Paine, a partner in the fishing concern of J. & L. N. Paine, whose wharf was nearby. (The proprietors may have imagined that an inn called “Captain Paine” would be tougher to market.) The most significant resident of this house was Edith Linwood Bush, Paine’s granddaughter, who moved here in 1952 after retiring as the dean of the Jackson College for Women at Tufts University. She was the first woman professor to teach in the College of Engineering at Tufts. Her brother, Vannevar Bush, now described as a progenitor of the Internet, has also been described as a father of the atomic bomb.


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.

96 Commercial Street

 
Colossal corner pilasters mark this robust, yet refined, Greek Revival home at 96 Commercial Street, which was built in the mid-19th century and has served in recent years as a 25-room guest house, Captain Lysander’s Inn. Its name came from its builder, Captain Lysander Paine, a partner in the fishing concern of J. & L. N. Paine, whose wharf was nearby. (The proprietors probably imagined that a guest house called Captain Paine would be tougher to market; except, perhaps, to a niche clientele.) By far the most nationally significant resident of this house was Edith Linwood Bush (1882-1977), Paine’s granddaughter, who moved here in 1952 after retiring as the dean of the Jackson College for Women at Tufts University. More pictures and history»

† Wharf at 99-101 Commercial Street

 
Union Wharf
The 1,000-foot-long Union Wharf, constructed in about 1830-31, was one of the largest and most important wharves in town. A marine railway at the end drew vessels up to a building with a large notch in its gabled roof to accommodate bowsprits, so that the hull could be brought that much higher and closer. More pictures and history»

† 99 Commercial Street

 
Furtado’s Boatyard

That Manuel “Ti Manuel” Furtado (±1880-1945) was the father of the 20th-century boatbuilding business in Provincetown is beyond dispute; not only did he have one of the principal boatyards in the early decades of the 1900s, but Furtado alumni went on to establish Flyer’s Boatyard and the Taves Boatyard. He was born in São Miguel in the Azores, landing in Provincetown in 1898, as a ship’s carpenter. He spent some time fishing on the Grand Banks, but then — around 1920 — he set up shop at the base of Union Wharf, where he earned a reputation for his “painstaking skill and craftsmanship” in constructing light boats, The Advocate said (“Boatbuilder Dies, Mourned by Many,” 7 June 1945). More pictures and history»

99-101 Commercial Street

99-101 Commercial Street, Furtado's Boatyard, courtesy of Joseph Andrews.

99-101 Commercial Street, Furtado’s Boatyard, courtesy of Joseph Andrews.

Restaurants come and go. Sal’s Place came in 1962 and stayed until 2014, when its remarkable run was celebrated and its passing mourned. It was in the Union Wharf Building, an upland relic of the Union Wharf, which was built around 1830, the first 1,000-foot-plus wharf. It was the setting of Furtado’s Boatyard. Manuel “Ti Manuel” Furtado was the father of 20th-century boatbuilding in town. His alumni went on to establish Flyer’s Boatyard (Francis “Flyer” Santos) and Taves Boatyard (Frank “Biska” Taves). He was born in São Miguel, in the Azores, landing in town in 1898 as a ship’s carpenter. He fished on the Grand Banks. Around 1920, he set up shop at Union Wharf, where he was known for his “painstaking skill and craftsmanship,” The Advocate said after his death in 1945.

99-101 Commercial Street, Sal's Place, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

99-101 Commercial Street, Sal’s Place, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

Lora and Alexander Papetsas, by Dan McKeon (2014).

Lora and Alexander Papetsas, by Dan McKeon (2014).

The Skipper restaurant was here in the ’50s. Salvatore Del Deo opened Sal’s after his partnership with Ciro Cozzi at Ciro & Sal’s dissolved. He turned the business over in 1989 to Jack and Lora Papetsas. Their son, Alexander, joined them. The little cottage next to Sal’s — at times indistinguishable from it — is A Home at Last. It served as the geographic center of gravity for much of the lovely memoir My Provincetown: Memories of a Cape Cod Childhood, by Amy Whorf McGuiggan. At press time, a proposed enlargement that would almost double its size had become the latest flashpoint in the battle between development and preservation.


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.

99 Commercial Street

 
Sal’s Place

Restaurants come and go in Provincetown. Sal’s Place came in 1963 — almost a half century ago — and is still around, as is the founder and namesake, Salvatore Del Deo, though he’s no longer connected with the business. The restaurant is housed in the Union Wharf Building, an upland relic of the Union Wharf, which was built around 1830-1. This structure was the first home of the Seamen’s Savings Bank, from 1852 to 1868. It was here that Leander Rockwell, a seaman from Nova Scotia, made the first deposit of $36. The bank’s next move was only a short distance away, to the Union Exchange at 90 Commercial Street. More pictures and history»

100 Commercial Street

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

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

Roxanne "Jill" Pires, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

Roxanne “Jill” Pires, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

There was a day not long ago when there were few things as common as Portuguese families living at the west end of Commercial. Now, there are few things as unusual. But some families remain; a quiet, enduring and modest presence. Roxanne “Jill” Pires — a retired waitress, bartender, and customer-service agent — lives in a home that has been in her family’s hands nearly 70 years. Her parents, Manuel Pires and Winifred Fredina (O’Donnell) Pires, bought this house in 1946 for $5,000. She traces its history to the 19th century, when it was Thomas W. Dyer’s paint store. During a renovation, Pires uncovered some of the original wood-pegged timber framing.


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.

100 Commercial Street

 
There was a day — and not too long ago — when there would have been few things as common in town as a Portuguese family living at the west end of Commercial Street. Now, there are few things as unusual. But some longtime families remain; a quiet, enduring and modest presence in the midst of growing (if tastefully understated) ostentation. Roxanne “Jill” Pires (b 1944) exemplifies that tradition, living in a home just beyond the Turn that has been in her family’s hands for more than 60 years. More pictures and history»

101 Commercial Street

 
A Home at Last
The little cottage next to Sal’s Place — and seemingly at times indistinguishable it — is known as A Home at Last. It served as the geographic center of gravity for much of the lovely memoir My Provincetown: Memories of a Cape Cod Childhood, by Amy Whorf McGuiggan (b 1956). Her grandfather, the painter John Whorf, lived at 52 Commercial Street. Simply by describing conditions on the deck at No. 101, where her family spent its vacations — liberated from the rigidity of Hingham, Mass. — McGuiggan captures the whole sense of summer in the 1960s: “The deck railings were draped all summer with bathing suits, bulky orange life jackets and an assortment of wet towels, no two of which matched. More pictures and history»

† 104 Commercial Street

Benjamin Lancy the first, “a man who gave stalwart descendants to Provincetown and who influenced its history,” built his home here in 1780. In December 1939, The Advocate noted: “Only a few pieces of the skeleton of what was once a building of historic importance now remain and those, too, will be gone as the Atlantic Coast Fisheries Company completes the work of razing the home built on the bend of Kelley’s Corner on Commercial Street more than a hundred and fifty eight years ago …. But … several fine parts of the house … will be kept intact in Provincetown’s museum, maintained by the Research Club, … which is housed in the residence of the late Benjamin Lancy, the last!” Gertrude deWager, president of the club, requested “the fireplance mantle, the corner cupboard and wainscoting … to be used in the authentic Colonial kitchen which is being constructed within the museum.” They were donated Frank H. Rowe, manager of Atlantic Coast Fisheries.

112 Commercial Street

 
As you approach the Turn in Commercial Street from the east, you may think you’re being watched. You are. A bust of William Shakespeare has taken up more-or-less permanent residence in a second-floor window at No. 112. Year in and year out, window open or shut, the ghostly little Bard casts his eyes over the West End Rialto. More pictures and history»

112 Commercial Street

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

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

John Dowd, courtesy of John Dowd.

John Dowd, courtesy of John Dowd.

112 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

112 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2008).

As you approach the Turn in Commercial Street, you may think you’re being watched. You are. The artist John Dowd has placed a bust of Shakespeare in a second-floor window, from which the bard casts his eye over the West End Rialto. The house, which dates to about 1840, was a favorite of postcard publishers, given its picturesque situation. Capt. John Taves of the dragger Lucy F. lived here with his wife, Mary (Cabral) Taves. He perished in 1940 when the boat was caught in a blizzard. Dowd, probably the town’s best known contemporary painter and the chairman of the Historic District Commission, bought the house in 1994. His passion for architecture and Cape light is evident in townscapes that impart nobility and gravity to the built environment. In “Tides of Provincetown,” a sweeping 2011 exhibition about the art colony, he was represented as artist and collector.


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.

117 Commercial Street

 
Former Pumper House No. 1

Built in 1858, a year before the Fire Department was formally organized, this structure was originally designated Fire House No. 2 and carried that designation at least through 1910. The cupola, its most distinctive feature after the truck bay itself, marked the loft in which hoses were dried. For much of the 20th century, these were the quarters of Pumper Company No. 1, first responders to any fire in the far West End, signified by a single blast of the alarm on Town Hall. One of the longest-term volunteers here was Joseph Andrews, who was a member of this house for 29 years — 23 of them on the Board of Engineers — until his retirement in 1980. More pictures and history»

117 Commercial Street

117 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

117 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2014).

Built in 1858, a year before the Fire Department was formally organized, this structure was originally designated Fire House No. 2. The cupola, its most distinctive feature after the truck bay itself, marked the loft in which hoses were dried. For much of the 20th century, these were the quarters of Pumper Company No. 1, first responders to any fire in the far West End, signified by a single blast of the alarm on Town Hall. One of the longest-term volunteers here was Joseph Andrews, who was a member of this house for 29 years until his retirement in 1980. The house was decommissioned in 1993 and is currently a private home in which the truck bay doubles as a front porch. It has been owned since 2002 by Bryan Rafanelli and Mark Walsh.


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.

Louis Ferreira Square (The Turn)

There was a problem facing the county commissioners as they were laying out Commercial Street in the West End in the early 19th century. His name was Benjamin Lancy. Lancy owned a salt works behind his house and it appeared his property would have to be bisected by the new street. “Whoever saws through my salt works saws through my body,” Lancy declared, according to The Provincetown Book by Nancy W. Paine Smith. To which Joshua Paine replied, “Where’s a saw?” More history»

119 Commercial Street

 
Few narratives, fiction or nonfiction, convey as warm and intimate a sense of Provincetown as Frank X. Gaspar‘s beguiling novel, Leaving Pico (University Press of New England, 1999). The story — about a transformative summer in the life of a Portuguese-American family and about our common hunger for just enough nobility to hold our heads high — is centered on the West End home of its young narrator, Josie Carvalho. So it’s inevitable, if treacherous, to look at 119 Commercial Street, where Gaspar (b ±1946) grew up in the 1950s, and wonder just how much of this house is in Leaving Pico. “The book is not a memoir, nor is it sociology or history,” Gaspar said in an interview presented on the University Press of New England Web site. More pictures and history

149 Commercial Street

Monkey Bar
From the Amy Ackerman Studio of Dancing in the ’30s to Zora’s Fish Market in the ’40s, 149 Commercial Street became Wesley and Mildred Felton’s Cottage Restaurant in 1950 and stayed that for many years, a cozy spot where friends at breakfast could discuss “the previous night’s conquests or disappointments,” as Images of America noted. As the Monkey Bar, it featured “a pan-Asian-meets-Cape-Cod selection” Lonely Planet said. The building is also now known as the Sandbar Village Condominium.

190 Commercial Street

190 Commercial Street, Spiritus after hours, by David Jarrett (1981).

190 Commercial Street, Spiritus after hours, by David Jarrett (1981).

190 Commercial Street, by Josephine Del Deo (1976).

190 Commercial Street, by Josephine Del Deo (1976).

Spiritus pizzeria is interwoven with recent history, and its home has a fascinating past life. It was built in the 1830s for Reuben Collins II. Sixty years later, his children Richard and Minnie physically divided the house between them. It was not reunited again until the 1940s. John Yingling arrived in 1978 and transformed it into Spiritus, with a free-spirited décor. Under the same roof, Gus Gutterman and Arnie Charnick ran Spiritus Ice Cream. Spiritus has long been the after-hours gathering spot for bar-goers, partiers, late diners, and hundreds of other men. (The pizza is good, too.) The scene was upended in 1986 during a three-night melee between the police and gay protesters known as the “Spiritus Riot.”


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.

190 Commercial Street

 
Spiritus

The Spiritus pizzeria is so interwoven with recent P’town history that it is almost hard to believe its home had an earlier life. But it did, all the way back to around 1837, when 190 Commercial Street was probably constructed for Reuben Collins II and his family. In 1892, when the building would have been denominated No. 189, his children Richard and Minnie physically divided the house between them. (Both were allowed to use the front door and stairs.) It was not reunited again until its purchase in 1945. An optometrist, Dr. Max Berman, operated here from the late 1940s until the late 1970s. John Love Yingling arrived in 1978 and transformed the place into Spiritus, the unofficial after-hours gathering spot on warm summer nights for hundreds of men. (The pizza isn’t bad, either.) More pictures and history»

191 Commercial Street

Century | Glass Half Full

William B. Bangs of 448 Commercial (now the Copper Fox) was the owner of this building at the turn of the 20th century, when it was denominated 190 Commercial Street. In the 1950s, the Mexican Shop and the Windjammer Gallery were here. The building was purchased in 1964 by Frank J. Hurst Jr. (±1916-2001) and passed on to his son, Crayne. The elder Hurst had grown up in Washington but met and married Chief Yeoman Halcyone Cabral during World War II and came to town to visit his in-laws. That was “the beginning of his love affair with the town,” The Banner said. More history»

192-194 Commercial Street

A Gallery | FK Full Kit Gear Shop

An important Federal-style building, easy to overlook. This was the property of Bessie D. Freeman at the turn of the 20th century, when the building was denominated 191 Commercial Street. City Video was a longtime tenant. The current tenants are A Gallery, showing the works of Eileen Counihan, Steve Desroches, John Dimestico, Alexandre Jazédé, Olga Manosalvas, Adam Peck, Marian Peck, Christopher Sousa and Harry Wicks. Downstairs is FK Full Kit Gear Shop, “Serious Gear for Serious Men.” Serious about what is obvious enough. More history»

192-194 Commercial Street

192-194 Commercial Street, apartment, by David W. Dunlap (2013).

192-194 Commercial Street, apartment, by David W. Dunlap (2013).

192-194 Commercial Street (2013).

192-194 Commercial Street (2013).

Zoë Lewis, by Eileen Counihan.

Zoë Lewis, by Eileen Counihan.

Though it looks at first glance a bit like a Federal-style house, No. 192-194 is in fact a Cape with a full-width addition, according to the Provincetown Historic Survey. Inside, the building is rich in character and poor in right angles. Diana Henley of Brooklyn has owned the property since 1960. The musician Zoë Lewis (pictured) is among the residents. Commercial tenants have included John R. Small Mimeographing, 1940s; Rogers Art Supply, 1950s; Isis Unveiled, 1980s; Don’t Panic T-shirt shop; Third Eye at Phoenix Rising; and City Video (remember VHS?), which was succeeded by Adam Peck’s A Gallery, a showcase for the artist Christopher Sousa. Downstairs is FK Full Kit Gear Shop, “Serious Gear for Serious Men.” Serious about what is obvious enough after just a moment’s visit.


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.

193 Commercial Street

Roots
Commercial tenants in the streetfront space at 193 Commercial have included the most wonderfully named Pig ‘n Chick restaurant (1946), whose memorable motto was, “Take Me Quick to the Pig ‘n Chick”; Pablo’s Cuisine au Vin (1955), the Provincetown branch of a restaurant by the same name at 232 East 58th Street in Manhattan; the Skillet Restaurant (1961), which featured at least one Christmas in July event, two weeks of stuffed turkey dinners, “complete with Santa Claus, Xmas Tree, Carols and all holiday decorations.” Current tenants include the Roots housewares store. Toys of Eros was here until f In the streetfront retail spaces on the ground and second floor are Roots and Toys of Eros. The Pied Bar was being offered for sale in 2009 for $2,395,000.

193A Commercial Street

193A Commercial Street, Ace of Spades Club, Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

193A Commercial Street, Ace of Spades Club, Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

Ace of Spades matchbook, Salvador R. Vasques III Collection.

Ace of Spades matchbook, Salvador R. Vasques III Collection.

A social center of lesbian life since the early 1950s, when it was the Ace of Spades Club (pictured), run by John and Frances Atkins. The beachcomber décor was in part the work of Jeanne “Frenchie” Chanel. As a club, it was legally bound to limit admission. Anti-gay selectmen would target it for not enforcing membership rules. Perhaps that was why in 1961 the proprietors refused to admit the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, who was with Gore Vidal when she couldn’t produce ID. Pamela Genevrino and Linda Gerard reopened the place as the Pied Piper in 1971. Susan Webster took over in 1986; added the “After Tea T-Dance,” attracting men; and changed the name in 2000 to PiedBar, which she said draws “a very mixed clientele.”


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.

193A Commercial Street

 
Pied Bar

A landmark of women’s history, 193A Commercial has been a social center of lesbian life — and gay life generally — since the early 1950s, when it was the Ace of Spades Club. (The club famously refused admission in 1961 to the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.) “Allegedly the longest continuously running lesbian bar in the United States, the Ace of Spades played a critical role in Provincetown’s history as the first and, for many years, the only social institution at Land’s End that catered specifically to women,” Karen Christel Krahulik wrote in Provincetown: From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort (New York University Press, 2005). More pictures and history»

195-199 Commercial Street

 
Café Heaven | Melt | Coffey Men

This is one of the most important commercial buildings in town, not least for the fact that it is astonishingly intact. It’s also significant as a wharfhead structure, though the wharf behind it is long gone. Tom Boland said of this storefront that it “survives as an excellent representation of commercial properties in the 19th century.” A comparison of photographs (above and to the right), taken about 120 years apart, discloses how little altered this building property has been. Even the three bays of nine large lights in the storefront persist. The most notable change is probably the dormer sheds that were added on either side of the gabled roof. Otherwise, it doesn’t take much visual imagination to conjure the day in the 1870s or 1880s, say, when this was John L. Rich’s men’s emporium, selling boots, shoes, clothing and accessories. A thorough account of the building’s first half-century comes to us through Herman A. Jennings in his book Provincetown, or Odds and Ends From the Tip End. More history»

195-199 Commercial Street

Pages 086-090 25

195-199 Commercial Street in 1890 (top), from “Provincetown, or Odds and Ends From the Tip End,” and in 2013 (bottom), by David W. Dunlap.

This important, astonishingly intact commercial building from 1845-46 looks largely as it did 125 years ago (top), when it was John Rich’s men’s emporium. It’s also significant as a wharf-head structure, though the Market Wharf behind it is long gone. On this site in 1945, William Hathaway built what may have been the first marine railway in town. The silversmith Ed Wiener was here in the 1940s; followed by Lamp Shades by Polly Allen; Josephine Del Deo’s Sea Weaves Shop; and the Circular Cellar, run by Frank Lee and Jim Simpson, copper-enamel artisans. Beginning in 1959, Lenore Ross ran the Plain & Fancy restaurant and Lobster Bar here. Other tenants included Richard Ecock’s Buttonwood clothing, Mazel Tov restaurant, and the No. 5 and Coffey Men men’s stores. The popular Café Heaven is here now, as is Melt, a bath product store.


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.

† Wharf at 195-199 Commercial Street

 
Joseph Atwood Wharf
This wharf, once known as the Market Wharf, was originally associated with the wharfhead building where Café Heaven is a longtime tenant, which was constructed in 1845-46. The overall operation on the pier and in the upland structures was the fitting of vessels and the purchasing of cod and mackerel. More pictures and history»

198 Commercial Street

Ranch Guest Lodge

Across the street from the Pied, a landmark of lesbian history, stands the Ranch, a 20-room gay landmark that is — happily — not much changed since it was opened in 1960 by Alton J. “Al” Stilson (1923-2010). Cheerfully rebuking buttoned-up, tasteful A-gaydom, the Ranch makes it clear that frisky guests are expected and welcome; beards, chaps and all. “The lusty vibe pervades the entire establishment,” OutTraveler said. Off the Ranch, Stilson may not be much remembered, but he played a very important role in 1977, when the Ranch was only one of three guest houses — the Coat of Arms and George’s Inn being the others — to participate in the first Carnival parade. A year later, the proprietors of those three houses formed the “founding nucleus” of the Provincetown Business Guild, Sandra L. Faiman-Silva wrote in The Courage to Connect: Sexuality, Citizenship and Community in Provincetown (University of Illinois Press, 2004). More pictures and history»

200 Commercial Street

 
Southstream Design | Toys of Eros

Built around 1920 in the Colonial Revival style as a Ford Motor Company garage, 200 Commercial Street is a landmark in the development of the town’s art scene after World War II. In 1949, Weldon Kees, a painter, poet, art critic, jazz musician, playwright and filmmaker, organized Forum 49, an avant-garde series of talks and displays. One of the first programs centered on the question “What is an artist?” More pictures and history»

† 205-209 Commercial Street

M. L. Adams built this store at 205-209 Commercial Street in 1865, though he did not put the Adams in Adams’ Market. That fell to John Adams, who bought the property in 1884 and continued the grocery and provision business of Warren Fielding, under the name of John Adams’ Market. There was, by the end of the 19th century, a large refrigerated room for meat. And the store had its own railway. “This is the largest store of the kind in town,” said Odds and Ends From the Tip End, “and a full assortment of everything that pertains to that business can always be found there.” Stores like this also sold provisions to the Grand Banks schooner fleet. The market was demolished in 1919 and replaced by the Paige Brothers Garage.

205-09 Commercial Street

 
Aquarium Marketplace

Unlikely as it may seem today, this was an aquarium in the 1960s and early 1970s: the Provincetown Marine Aquarium. Jackie, Lady and Lucky — three Atlantic bottlenose dolphins — were the principal attraction. They spent their summers in a beachfront pool that’s now covered by a deck and occupied by the Aqua Bar. But those double-P ligatures in the facade of the building don’t stand for Provincetown. They stand for Paige Brothers Garage, which this building was. Constructed in 1920-21, it was Provincetown’s first all-brick building. Paige Brothers entered the “accommodation” business in 1912 and three years later, bought three motor buses which quickly drove their horsedrawn competitors “from the highway.” Two of the buses operated well into the 1930s. More pictures and history»

206-208 Commercial Street

Rogues Gallery |
Nor’east Beer Garden
The house was built around 1870 in the Italianate style. The south facade used to have two monumentally-scaled doorways. These were replaced by a long, two-story porch. The property, owned since 2003 by Hal Winard, includes an open lot that affords such a great view of 3 Carver Street, up the hill. Cotton Gin was a retail tenant until recent years. In 2010, the designer Alex Carleton, who had worked for Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch and L. L. Bean, opened the Rogues Gallery clothing and furnishing store at No. 208. (Another Rogues Gallery is in Portland, Me.) The Nor’East Beer Garden restaurant has also opened recently.

210 Commercial Street

Provincetown Fudge Factory |
Wonderful Hands Massage |
Henry & Company

Fondue, anyone? I look at this building aglow at night and picture a ski lodge where someone is singing Meglio Stasera. Happily for Midcentury Modernistas, Provincetown did not escape the A-frame craze of the 1950s and ’60s and this is a terrific example of the style. By the late 1970s, the Gryphon gift store occupied the entire frontage, which has since been divided. John Maguire Jr. and his wife, Deirdre (Morelli) Maguire (1958-2011) bought one of the four condominium units in 1986 for their Provincetown Fudge Factory. More pictures and history»

211-215 Commercial Street

Christina’s Jewelry | Wardrobe

This was the last home of the locally renowned Rush Fish Market, founded in 1921 by Frank E. Cabral and his brother, Joseph Cabral (d 1953). They moved the business here in 1942 and Frank operated it until 1966, when he retired. (“Fish Market Proprietor Retires After 61 Years in Business,” The Advocate, 3 November 1966.) The Cabrals were known in the West End as the “Rush Brothers” for the speeds at which they cut and wrapped fish. Christina’s Jewelry has been at No. 215 since 1982, a remarkable feat of continuity. It is owned by Christine Meegan. The Wardrobe women’s clothing boutique at No. 213 is owned by Stephen Carey.

212 Commercial Street

Global Gifts | Muir Music | Norma Glamp’s

Though it looks like part of a compound with the Art House theater — and is in fact on the same tax lot — 212 Commercial Street was constructed between 1850 and 1870. (The Long Point exhibit at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum identifies it as a floater.) James Matenos owned the property in the mid-20th century and offered rooms for transients and ran a shoe repair shop. The building was firmly pinned on summer visitors’ retail map by 1960 with the Paraphernalia apparel store — “everything to make you Happily Dressed (except culottes!)” it declared in an ad just before Bastille Day. In 1963, Mary Rattray Kanovitz, a costume jeweler from the East Village, opened the Queen of Diamonds, a clothing and accessories store. More pictures and history»

214 Commercial Street

 
Art House | D. Flax | Frappo 66

A decade after remaking the old Congregational church at 256-258 Commercial Street into the Art Cinema in 1954, George I. Shafir of New York set out to build a movie theater from the ground up: the New Art Cinema, reached through an arcade of shops housed in substantively altered older structures. (No. 214 is idenitified as a floater in the Long Point exhibit at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.) You can still see the juncture between old and new buildings from the alleyway. The architect was Burnett V. Vickers of Orleans, who also designed an expansion of the Provincetown Inn. The most interesting feature is the carved wood signpost, which Roslyn Garfield told me was the work of the Joan Wye (±1926-2006). More pictures and history»

† 219 Commercial Street

Provincetown Printers
“Six artists formed the Provincetown Printers in 1915, developing a unique method of woodcut printing, making single block or ‘white line’ prints,” Nyla Ahrens wrote in Provincetown: The Art Colony. “The method lent itself to personal cubist styles soon developed by Agnes Weinrich and Blanche Lazzell. By 1918 the enlarged group established a gallery on the site of the present Post Office and sent traveling shows through the United States, Canada and Europe.”

219 Commercial Street

 
United States Post Office

Even more than the grocery stores (after all, some people shopped at the A & P while others shopped at the First National), the Post Office was Provincetown’s commons, its Rialto, its great public meeting ground. But it is not untarnished in civic memory. The Post Office was the site in 1949 of a dreadful tragedy, when the town’s well-respected postmaster, William H. Cabral (b ±1900) accidentally shot and killed James “Jimmy Peek” Souza (b ±1930), a rambunctious youth whom Cabral was merely trying to frighten with his Army revolver. The extent of Cabral’s moral liability was a subject that pitted citizens against one another bitterly. And even if those memories have now softened, the Post Office itself still bears a scar from the shooting. More pictures and history»