143 Bradford Street Condominium (Units A-C).
Long before its conversion into a condo in 2009, this unusually large house was a multifamily dwelling. The single family most closely associated with it was that of Mary Ellen (Rego) Days (1917-1995) and her husband, Bernard Anthony Days (1917-1990), a letter carrier. She had come from 7 Atlantic Avenue. He had come from 208 Commercial Street. They wed in October 1936 and made their home here. They lived here together until his death 54 years later.
Their daughter Sheila May Days was born in January 1947, followed in March 1948 by the twins Carol Ann Days and Joseph Manuel Days. The family owned 143 Bradford and the smaller house, 143A Bradford Street.
Left: Sheila May Days as a high school senior, from the 1965 Long Pointer, in the School Collection of the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5563. Center and right: Carol Ann Days and Joseph Manuel Days, from the 1966 yearbook, Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5564.
“I lived upstairs for about a year with my friend Nancy Muir and her daughter,” said Hilary McHugh, an artist, teacher, and indefatigable volunteer in town.
“Then the apartment downstairs became available in 2007 and I was so excited to have my own place again. My apartment was spacious and full of light, and I am sure a lot of history and stories were held in those walls. … It was central in town yet hidden away in the back. Very private and quiet: we had a little grassy area with the old-fashioned rack to hang your laundry out to dry, which we used of course. There’s nothing like fresh, clean sheets blowing in the sun and wind.
“Anyways it had a great gas stove, bathtub, and parking. I think I had a washer and dryer as well! Those things were hard to find in an old Provincetown apartment. You might get one of those things but not all of them. And the rent was very reasonable, as a lot of old Provincetown families kept it. I think it was $800 a month — a true deal.”
In 2008, as trustee of the Days Realty Trust, Joseph M. Days sold the property for $860,000 to Geraldine K. “Jerry” Anathan and Cassandra “Cass” Benson, doing business as Anathan Benson L.L.C. As McHugh remembered it, Days “was very torn about selling 143 and then Days Cottages [in Truro] — you could just tell. He was a real earnest man, a true gem.” McHugh and others lost their homes.
Anathan Benson was responsible for several projects in town, including the conversion in 2008 of the Gull’s Nest Motel, 6 Sandy Hill Lane, into the 12-unit Gull’s Nest Condominium. In 2008, Anathan opened the Yoga East studio, 43 Race Point Road. Two years later, Benson opened the Harbor Lounge at Merchants’ Hall, 359 Commercial Street.
Their Bradford Street condo project, converting the two buildings into a five-unit complex, was completed in 2009, between these two milestones in their lives. Three units are in this house, while two are in the rear building.
143 Bradford Street in 2009, the year the condos went on sale. David W. Dunlap.
The poet, playwright, and artist Helen Duberstein Lipton (1926-2020) was the first purchaser of Unit B. That was not the only “first” involved in the transaction. At the age of 84, Duberstein was a first-time home buyer.
She had been a Provincetown visitor since the 1940s, having hitchhiked here from New York City at the urging of Paul Goodman, one of the founders of Gestalt therapy (and, later, the author of Growing Up Absurd), whom she knew in the cradle of bohemia around the City College of New York. Duberstein enrolled at C.C.N.Y. in 1942 to study engineering, but soon found herself in the company of intellectuals, artists, and writers — like Victor Lipton.
Duberstein’s first summer home in town was on Montello Street. Her job was in the East End. When she complained to Lipton about having to walk such a long distance each day, he shipped his own bicycle to her on the New Haven Railroad freight line. “It was an effective method of courtship,” her obituary noted.¹ They married in 1949. Duberstein and Lipton were New York City school teachers. She worked with students who had difficulties reading. Both of their daughters, Irene Lipton and Jackie Lipton, would become painters.
The 1970s saw the blossoming of Duberstein’s career as a playwright. Already in residence at the Circle Theater Company (later the Circle Repertory Company), she was among the founders in 1971 of the Westbeth Playwrights’ Feminist Collective. One of the earliest such groups in the country, the collective took its name from the artists’ housing complex in Lower Manhattan where a number of the members lived, Duberstein included. Productions like Rape-In, Up! An Uppity Revue, Wicked Women, and ?! played “generally to receptive audiences and favorable reviews,” The New York Times said in 1974.
Helen Duberstein Lipton in 2008. Photograph by Phil Smith.
Some of Duberstein’s Off-Off-Broadway works that attracted notice in this period were Your Unhappiness With Me Is of No Concern to Readers, at the Omni Theater, in 1971; Time Shadows, at the Circle Theater, in 1972; The Play Within, at the New York Theater Ensemble, in 1973; Monkey of the Inkpot, at the Actors Experimental Unit Theater, also in 1973; When I Dyed My Hair in Venice, at the WPA Theater, in 1975; The Brain, at the Open Space in Soho, in 1977; and The Guillotine, at the Theater for the New City, also in 1977.
She and her husband had works presented simultaneously in two playhouses at the Theater for the New City in 1979. Hers was We Never Thought a Wedding. His was Lord Tom Goldsmith.
Collections of Duberstein’s work include A Dream of Rewards, which was in contention for the Pushcart Prize – Best of the Small Presses in 1986; The Shameless Old Lady, 1994; A Thousand Wives Dancing, 2001; and Roma, 2002. Of Shadow Self & Other Tales, Publishers Weekly said in 1997: “According to these intense, often complex eight stories (which Duberstein illustrates with 20 of her own semi-figurative line drawings), the sexes are very much at war and unlikely to call a truce any time soon.”
His Oneness, by Helen Duberstein, 1999. Mixed media on paper, 10 by 13 inches. Accession No. 1638.MM00. Gift of the artist, 2000. Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
Duberstein donated her mixed-media composition, His Oneness, to the Provincetown Art Association and Museum in 2000.
She lived here at 143 Bradford with her dog Kafka until March 2020, when she moved to the North Truro home of her daughter Irene, the art director of Provincetown Arts since 2002. Duberstein died there on 2 September.
Unit A at 143 Bradford Street is owned at this writing by a resident of New Haven; Unit C by a resident of Hollywood, Fla.
¶ Last updated on 17 October 2020.
Howard Burchman wrote on 15 October 2020: Would be nice to acknowledge that the building provided affordable year-round housing prior to the condo conversion and — like so many other places — the conversion displaced long-term residents.
Steven Roderick wrote on 15 October 2020: The Days family that lived at this house also owned the historic Days Cottages of Truro. The family certainly has a long history in Provincetown. The family was also involved with Frank A. Days & Sons construction company.
143-143A Bradford Street on the Town Map.
Also at 143-143A Bradford Street:
• 143 Bradford Street Condominium (Units D-E).
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2009, by David W. Dunlap.
• Bernard Anthony Days (1917-1990)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 139354320.
• Mary Ellen (Rego) Days (1917-1995)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 139361287.
¹ “Helen Duberstein Lipton, 94, a Writer and Artist Ahead of Her Time,” Wicked Local/Provincetown Banner, 15 September 2020; “Helen Duberstein Lipton, 94, Writer and Artist,” The Provincetown Independent, 17 September 2020.