Former MAP store.
Though Nos. 141 and 143 occupy separate tax lots, the two parcels have been united for more than a century under common ownership, most of those years by the Snow family. Because this building has been in almost constant retail use for these many decades, it’s certainly the better known of the two. In fact, it seems a safe bet that it will be remembered for quite a while as the longtime home of Pauline Fisher’s MAP (Modified American Plan), an apparel store that is truly “curated” and inimitably cool.
But customers were already flocking here in the early 1900s, when it was John W. Deutra’s tobacco and confectionery shop. A photograph from that time shows a small crowd outside the building, which carried signs for Murad — “The Turkish Cigarette” — and Good Old B-L Tobacco, which could be chewed or smoked. Deutra bought the property in 1909 from Manuel M. and Mary Cook. He died in 1917, having bequeathed “all my real and personal property to my very dear friend Josephine Sears Rabbitt of Provincetown.” Rabbitt sold 141 Commercial in 1920 to Bessie Florence Tyler (1873-1945).
John W. Deutra operated a tobacco and confectionery shop here in the early 20th century. The image was posted by Ben Kettlewell in the My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection group on Facebook, 3 October 2018.
Tyler was “known to many generations of Cape End people, particularly in the West End, because of her little candy, cake, and general store which she operated for years,” The Advocate said in her obituary, noting that the 71-year-old proprietor had continued running the business until two weeks before the illness that led to her death.¹ Tyler had also offered a $1, two-day “cleansing and pressing service” from here in the 1930s.⁶
Madeline V. (Cook) Snow (1892-1955) — whose parents had owned 141 Commercial until selling it in 1909 to Deutra — bought it back, from Tyler’s estate, in 1946. She kept the confectionery business going, as Madeline’s Sweet Shop.² She and her husband, Ralph Powers Snow (1887-1957), lived next door, at 143 Commercial Street.
“My grandmother did operate a sweet shop at 141, where Bessie Tyler was, mainly to attract and provide a shop for kids, which she loved,” Christopher J. Snow told me in 2019. “She also allowed neighborhood children access to and use of the beach in summer. She also offered delicacies such as pickled pigs feet, and a warm coal stove around which men’s yarns were spun.”
The retail history of 141 Commercial Street can be traced through Advocate ads. Bessie Florence Tyler promoted her “cleansing and pressing” service on 24 March 1932 and John Clifford Snow his real-estate practice on 18 June 1953. Al’s Fish Market, run by Alfred Enos, swam by on 5 March 1964.
In 1953, Madeline and Ralph Snow’s son — the 33-year-old John Clifford Snow (1920-1985), a graduate of the Boston University School of Law — opened a “new, efficient, complete real-estate agency” at this address.⁵ Snow had just completed a three-year stint as a trial attorney at the Department of Justice in Washington. He was to combine the law and real estate for the next 32 years of his career, in which he also figured prominently in local government as town moderator, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and town counsel.
Phill’s Sweet Shoppe was the next business, beginning in 1957.³ It was operated not by “Phill,” but by Joseph White Sr. The Snow family continued to own the property itself.
Candies were still for sale when Al’s Fish Market opened here in 1963, on a Friday the 13th.⁴ At his market, the fisherman Alfred R. Enos offered uncooked and cooked fish, groceries, and penny candies. The store had a snack bar, accepted take-out orders, and sponsored weekly fish fries. His wife, Josephine F. “Josette” (Silva) Enos, operated Josette’s Beauty Salon, just a few doors down, at 135A Commercial Street.
“I remember selling shells on the corner of Whorf’s Court, then running up to the candy store with my loot, and buying a big bag of candy which I always took home and shared with my Mom,” Desiree (Cabral) Duda, a 1976 graduate of Provincetown High School, said in a 2016 comment to the My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection group on Facebook. “Boy, did she like Squirrel Nuts, Mary Janes and white chocolate!”
In the 1980s, still under the Snows’ ownership, 141 Commercial Street began a new life as a home for innovative apparel and furnishing boutiques, beginning with Tous les Caleçons, operated by Gilles Charriot.
Louis Morin was the next tenant, with a store called No. 5 Home. “He sold Alessi and higher-end home items,” Pauline Fisher recalled. Morin had already made a splash with his No. 5 apparel store at 199 Commercial Street, where one could find cutting-edge clothes by Comme des Garçons and others, and No. 5 Sports, 210 Commercial Street, with fashionable standbys like Lacoste.
A sticker from MAP.
Photos courtesy of Pauline Fisher, who is pictured at right.
Photo courtesy of Pauline Fisher.
Advertisements that appeared from 1998 to 2001, courtesy of Pauline Fisher.
141 Commercial Street on a perfect summer day in 2009. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
MAP was one of only six Provincetown stores highlighted by Boston magazine on 29 July 2014, in Courtney Holland’s “Where to Shop and Eat in Provincetown.” Vanessa Fiori’s elegant drawings showed the facades of MAP (6), Henry & Co. (5), Marine Specialties (4), Kiss & Makeup (3), Room 68 (2), and Botanica (1).
It was Pauline Fisher, a native of Ireland, who put 141 Commercial on the retail map. In 1994, she and Mitch Yates formed Mitch and Pauline Inc., to buy and sell gift items and clothing. (She bought him out in 1997. He later opened the Yates & Kennedy gift shop.)
“For clothes, go straight to MAP,” Robert Duffy urged readers of Boston magazine in 2007 — high praise, indeed, coming from the co-founder of the Marc Jacobs fashion line.⁷ “Owner Pauline Fisher stocks great jeans, wallets, and accessories. I have friends who live in New York but shop only at this store.”
“The best shop in Ptown,” Dan Shaw said in a 2013 Facebook comment. That’s another discerning judgment, since Shaw was one of the original editors of the Sunday Styles section at The New York Times, the co-founder of Rural Intelligence.com, and an alumnus of New York, Avenue, House & Garden, HomeStyle, Real Simple, and O at Home magazines. “Pauline’s taste is flawless. If only there were more stores with the style and soul of MAP.”
MAP was one of only six Provincetown stores highlighted by Boston magazine in Courtney Hollands’s 2014 survey, “Where to Shop and Eat in Provincetown.”
“Pauline Fisher started this cool clothing and accessories store 20 years ago ‘so I could live by the beach, surrounded by gorgeous men,’ she says. The plan worked, as fans flock to MAP for special-edition Levi’s, Cutler & Gross shades, Anthony Peto hats, and vintage belt buckles. The store’s fervent following extends well beyond the Cape — John Waters even stopped by in June to sign copies of his new road-trip book, Carsick.”⁸
By that time, the building had changed hands. Christopher Snow — like his father, a prominent and powerful local attorney — sold both the 141 and 143 Commercial Street parcels to George N. Tagaris (through the Nicholas G. Tagaris Irrevocable Trust) for $2.3 million in 2013. Fisher moved MAP after the 2015 season to 220 Commercial Street.
As part of the renovation of 141 Commercial in 2015 under Tagaris and his partner, Ryan Shergold, the entire building was lifted from its foundations. Photo, which shows the waterside facade, courtesy of George N. Tagaris.
Briefly following MAP in 2017 and 2018 was Arcadia, a boutique founded in 2000 by Jay Gurewitsch in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Gurewitsch said the store’s focus was handmade jewelry, personal accessories for men and women, ceramics and glass made by American and Canadian artists, fair-trade items from around the world, and distinctive greeting cards. The business moved in 2019 to 131 Commercial Street.
Because this is Provincetown, history lingers in the buildings’ bones. “We found the original tobacco sign,” Tagaris told me in early 2019. “It’s in a few pieces so we have to reglue it all back together.” But that’s the way it’s done in these parts.
¶ Last updated on 8 April 2019.
141 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2017, by David W. Dunlap.
For further reading online
• John Clifford Snow (1920-1985)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 170892974.
• Madeline V. (Cook) Snow (1892-1955)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 128568717.
• Bessie Florence Tyler (1873-1945)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 117659684. Truro.
¹ “Bessie Florence Tyler,” The Provincetown Advocate, 17 May 1945.
² “Madeline C. Snow,” The Provincetown Advocate, 25 August 1955.
³ “To Fellows and Friends Afar & Abroad,” The Provincetown Advocate, 28 November 1957, Page 1.
⁴ “Announcing the Opening of Al’s Fish Market” (Advertisement), The Provincetown Advocate, 12 December 1963, Page 5.
⁵ “Announcing a New, Efficient, Real Estate Agency” (Advertisement), The Provincetown Advocate, 18 June 1953.
⁶ “$1.00 Cleansing and Pressing Service” (Advertisement), The Provincetown Advocate, 24 March 1932.
⁷ “Robert Duffy’s Provincetown,” by Rachel Baker, Boston, 30 May 2007.
⁸ “Where to Shop and Eat in Provincetown,” by Courtney Hollands, Boston, 29 July 2014.