2020 Commercial 131 Jos Matthews Fish WarehouseCottage | Former Joseph Matthews fish warehouse?

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, 131 Commercial Street (then denominated 124 Commercial Street) served as Joseph Matthews’s grocery store. A line of fish warehouses stretched from its back door, along Good Templar Street, down to the beachfront — like the tail of a wood-framed comet. I am fairly certain that one of these buildings survives: a two-story cottage that has since been annexed into the 129 Commercial Street tax lot. It could be that another one does, too, in the form of this cottage, directly behind the main house and store at 131 Commercial Street. Its location and size approximate those of a Matthews warehouse, and nothing is to say a building this small didn’t get pushed around a bit. Then again, it is not the two-story building indicated on an 1889 insurance map. And the Provincetown Historic Survey places its construction date at 1920. So this may just be a case on wishful thinking on my part.

2020 Commercial 131 Jos Matthews Fish WarehouseLeft: An 1889 insurance map shows four fish warehouses behind the Joseph Matthews grocery store. The two that may have survived are outlined in red, as is the main store and house. The image is from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map in the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Digital ID g3764pm.g038261889. Right: I’ve outlined the main store and house on a contemporary town map, and two out buildings that may or may not have been fish warehouses. Note that the lower shed is now on the 129 Commercial Street tax lot.

2020 Commercial 131 Jos Matthews Fish WarehouseThe cottage behind 131 Commercial Street, on that may — or may not — have been a fish warehouse. Or, perhaps, an old fish warehouse was grafted onto the main house to create the kitchen ell that’s also shown in this 2011 photo by David W. Dunlap.

¶ Last updated on 7 January 2019.

131 Commercial Street on the Town Map.

Also at 131 Commercial Street:

Former Woodman/Shimko Gallery | Former Provincetown Antique Market.

Thumbnail image: Photo, 2011, by David W. Dunlap.


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