Flour, butter, cheese, eggs, beans, poultry, pork, lard, hams, sausage, and fresh beef — “of every description” — were sold here in the 1880s by John Brown, a grocer and provisioner. “Vessel orders promptly filled,” he promised. And he advertised further that he would buy fresh halibut at market prices. At the time, the address was denominated 139 Commercial Street. The property was, for many years, in the hands of the Silva-Alves family, beginning with Capt. John Garcia Silva (1847-1916), a whaler and fisherman, and his wife, Frances Virginia (Perira) Silva (1856-1937), a native of the Azores and the proprietor of a grocery store at Franklin and Bradford Streets, together with her sons Manuel G. Silva and John Silva. Their daughter Phebe Silva (1875-1952) married Frank Carlos Wager in 1891. And Phebe and Frank’s daughter Mary Eva “Winnie” Wager (1907-1996), married Francis J. Alves (1907-2001).
When John Brown was a grocer and provisioner here, the building was numbered 139 Commercial Street. This advertisement comes from an 1886 directory that was digitized by the Provincetown History Preservation Project (Page 171).
Left: Ads like this were published in The Provincetown Advocate in 1951 and 1952. Right: The calling card from the Beach shop, with the address hand-corrected, is in the author’s collection.
Alves is more closely identified with 3 Young’s Court, where he was born and where he died, but he and Mary formally acquired title to 144 Commercial Street from her siblings in 1947. They lived here in the 1950s and ’60s, when he advertised his services as a registered professional engineer and land surveyor. Alves was also elected twice to the Provincetown School Committee, on which he served from 1951 to 1956. During this time, they also opened their doors to guests as Cap’n John’s Quarters.
The Alveses sold the house in 1983 to James A. Pardy and Linthicum P. Turner. They’d been living at 4 Conant Street, which Pardy and James Hay Richmond opened in 1976 as the Richmond Inn. For a time, the commercial space at 144 Commercial; housed an art gallery called Dream a Little.
That was replaced by Ball Beachwear (also known as Ball Sportswear), founded and owned by Giovanni Romano, who doubles as a chef for the Abigail Kirsch catering and events company, out of New York City. From its very name (noun or verb?) to its window displays — “Warning: This swimsuit has a built-in cock ring and may cause your junk to look way larger than it really is.” — Ball obviously believed that sex sold swimwear.
In 1998, Pardy sold the house to Bradley G. Wilde of Dallas, for $355,000. Robert E. Walker of Fort Lauderdale paid $900,000 for the property in 2006.
Left: The Ball mannequin was photographed in 2008. Right: The side door, with flag and manual doorbell, was photographed in 2011. Both by David W. Dunlap.
144 Commercial Street in 2011. David W. Dunlap.
¶ Last updated on 5 April 2019.
144 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2008, by David W. Dunlap.
For further reading online
• Francis J. Alves (1907-2001)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 190296054.
• Mary Eva “Winnie” Wager (1907-1996)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 190296074.
• Frances Virginia (Perira) Silva (1856-1937)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 35386618.
• John Garcia Silva (1847-1916)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 35386594.