Provincetown Light and Power Company | E. J. Rivard Company | Atlantic Coast Fisheries Company.
By 1929, the home of Nathan R. Freeman on this site had been replaced by a showroom for the Provincetown Light and Power Company, whose main office was downtown. The location next to the Cape Cod Cold Storage Company freezer complex, 125 Commercial Street, was not coincidental. For the first years of its existence, Provincetown Light and Power did not provide power to the cold storage, but instead bought excess electricity from the cold storage, which the utility then distributed among several hundred residential customers in town. At 127 Commercial, Provincetown Light and Power displayed and sold clocks, coffee makers, irons, food mixers, grills, lamps, ranges, refrigerators, roasters, toasters, vacuum cleaners, waffle irons, washers, water heaters — pretty much anything that consumed electricity. The utility was out of this space before the end of World War II. (It merged in 1950 with the Cape and Vineyard Electric Company, which was subsumed into the Commonwealth Electric Company, which turned into Nstar, which is now Eversource.)
The master electrician Ephraim Joseph Rivard (1888-1950) — “well known to Lower Cape people because of his 36 years career in his craft here,” The Advocate said — moved his electrical company into the former utility showroom in 1945.¹ Rivard was a native of Fall River. He received his electrical training in New Bedford. He’d come to Provincetown in 1911 and established the E. J. Rivard Company. From 1929 to 1930, he served as master of King Hiram’s Lodge. During World War II, American industry was devoted increasingly to the war effort, so much so that by 1944, vehicles and major appliances simply ceased to be available. The opening of a shop and showroom three months after V-J Day must have been greeted eagerly by consumers looking for the “new post-war electrical appliances for kitchen and home use” that Rivard promised.² Within five years, he died of a heart ailment, at age 62, and was succeeded in the business — restyled Rivard Inc. — by his son Herman Henry Rivard (1918-1972).³ The younger Rivard moved the business to 6 Conwell Street, where he lived. It’s now the Salt House Inn.
Ephraim Joseph Rivard, center, in a photo from Past Masters of King Hiram’s Lodge, 1796-1930. He’s flanked by ads for his business at 127 Commercial Street, which ran in The Advocate on 3 January 1946 (left) and 23 October 1947 (right).
The Frigidaire ad ran 24 February 1949. The ad for a Hotpoint washer — “with Swirlaway water action” — ran 11 May 1950.
The building at No. 127 had one more incarnation. In the 1960s, it served as the office for the abutting Atlantic Coast Fisheries freezer and its general foreman, Armand J. Benatti. In 1963, the company promised “permanent job opportunities … for experienced fish packers, cutters, and handlers — men and women.”⁴ Two years later, the plant closed. It reopened in 1965, but was shuttered permanently in 1973. The site of the old showroom and office is now a fenced-in lawn at the northwest corner of Station Provincetown.
¶ Last updated on 18 December 2018.
127 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 127 Commercial Street:
Thumbnail image: Detail of a display ad in The Provincetown Advocate, 24 February 1949.
For further reading online
• Ephraim Joseph Rivard
Find a Grave Memorial No. 170863412.
• Herman Henry Rivard
Find a Grave Memorial No. 154909480.
¹ “Rivard to Open Electrical Shop; Will Have Display Place in West End — Sons to Join Him,” The Provincetown Advocate, 1 November 1945.
² “E. J. Rivard Company for Electrical Wiring and Appliance Servicing,” advertisement in The Provincetown Advocate, 8 November 1945.
³ “E. J. Rivard Dies, Funeral Sunday,” The Provincetown Advocate, 12 October 1950, Page 1.
⁴ “Atlantic Coast Fisheries,” advertisement in The Provincetown Advocate, 5 September 1963.