Bruce Ronayne Hamilton Architects | Former Drop-In Center | West End Antiques Condominium (Unit 2).
If Provincetown designated landmarks purely for their social significance, 146 Commercial Street would certainly get a big bronze plaque as the original home of the Drop-In Center, the town’s valiant attempt to cope with a maelstrom of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The center — a free, communal medical clinic and counseling center aimed at helping Provincetown’s burgeoning underground community — was not here for long. But its impact was tremendous.
Among the earlier commercial tenants, in 1932, was Lucille Hughes. She invited both beginning and advanced students of the violin to come study with her. The neighbors’ reaction was not noted. The building was purchased in 1957 by Josephine F. “Josette” (Silva) Enos, a celebrated beauty salon proprietor, and her husband, Alfred R. Enos, a fisherman and the proprietor of Al’s Fish Market.
Left: Dulcet (?) tones emerged from the house in 1932, to judge from this ad in The Advocate. Right: William L. Fitzpatrick and Russell F. Dwyer ran West End Antiques, then gave that name to the condo when they converted the property in 2005.
During the 13 years they owned 146 Commercial Street, Mrs. Enos moved her peripatetic salon to this property. (It also operated at 135A Commercial Street and 145 Commercial Street.) The shop celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1964 with a party to which Mrs. Enos invited her first customers, many of whom were still clients. The Enoses were fêted at the Portuguese-American Civic League hall, 120 Commercial Street, on the occasion of their 25th anniversary. They received a money tree and a three-tiered cake. Their tenants at 146 Commercial Street included the Rorro family. Young Scott Rorro would grow up to skipper F/V Sea Hunter. (He’s pictured in the article about 129R Commercial Street.)
Phyllis Schlosberg, proprietor of the Post Office Café & Cabaret, 303 Commercial Street, bought this property from the Enoses in 1969 and owned it until 1976. It was during this time that the Drop-In Center opened. The clinic was the work of many hands, but Patricia “Patti” (McNeil) Cozzi (1925-2013), a registered nurse, was chief among them.
“We had to do it,” Peter Manso recorded Cozzi as saying, in his 2002 book, Ptown: Art, Sex, and Money on the Outer Cape. “There was just no other way we could get through. There were all kinds of problems, but mainly a lot of hard-core addicts, and they were our number-one priority. The Town was doing nothing except putting these kids in jail, which was no good at all, since a lot of them were seriously sick.”
The new Drop-In Center appealed for help from the public in The Advocate on 10 December 1970.
On 24 December 1970, a week before the center opened, The Advocate described its ambitious program: free medical clinic, pregnancy and health counseling, drug information and counseling, draft counseling (the Vietnam War was in full swing), 24-hour crisis intervention telephone service, high school and adult discussion groups, housing information, employment counseling, welfare information, psychological counseling, family mediation, legal aid, pre-natal care classes, “encounter groups for junkies” — “and a place to rap” Manso continued the narrative:
“Patti rented an empty beauty shop at the West End of town for $50 a month and brought in additional staff, including a full-time general practitioner from Chatham, who volunteered his services. There were clinics for unwed mothers and their babies, many of them malnourished because they were ineptly following a macrobiotic diet. When a vast majority of the walk-ins turned out to have gonorrhea and other forms of V.D., the center began giving free shots; the bathroom in the beauty shop was so tiny that when the patients bent over, their bottoms would stick out.”
“By the end of that first summer, the heavy flow of traffic had overwhelmed
the small storefront.”
There were 214 drug-related contacts in the second half of 1971, the center’s director, Dr. Eric Chivian, reported. In those six months, he said, the center dealt with 20 “adverse psychological reactions related to drugs (‘bad trips’)” and 19 drug overdoses, “almost all involving sedative-hypnotic drugs such as alcohol and barbiturates.” The center soon moved to 6 Gosnold Street. While it lased only a decade, it had a profound effect on the town and might be described as the forerunner of Outer Cape Health Services.
Schlosberg sold 146 Commercial in 1976 to William J. Roberts III and Alan J. Wagg. They sold it two years later to Joseph P. Bonanno and Frank P. Cioffi, who owned it only a year before selling it in 1979 to Evelyn M. Simon, the proprietor of Simon’s Deli across the street, at 147 Commercial Street.
Simon founded Wampum Etc. in 1980 “to buy and sell jewelry and gifts, to craft and to teach the art of crafting jewelry, and to conduct exhibitions of jewelry for sale.” In 1993, the year Simon’s mortgage on the delicatessen space was foreclosed, she sold this property to William L. Fitzpatrick and Russell F. Dwyer.
They established West End Antiques at this address in the 1990s. Fodor’s said of the shop that it “sells everything from $4 postcards to a $3,000 model ship,” adding that “[h]andmade dolls and better-quality glassware — Steuben, Orrefors, and Hawkes — are also available.” A business called Second Chance Antiques was shown at this address in 2005.
That was the year Fitzpatrick and Dwyer converted their property into the four-unit West End Antiques Condominium. The commercial space was designated Unit 2.
Larry J. Richardson and Joseph Siciliano, proprietors of Red Square, in a photograph by David Jarrett.
A clothing store called Red Square was established in Unit 2 in 2006 by Joseph Siciliano and Larry J. Richardson of North Truro and Fort Lauderdale. The business, distinguished for the red awnings over the shop windows, lasted until 2016. At that time, the tenant of the commercial space was Bruce Ronayne Hamilton Architects, which also has an office in New Ipswich, N.H.
The commercial space has been owned since 2016 by Robert T. “Tommy” Chambers Jr. of West Hollywood, a noted interior designer in Los Angeles. Chambers and his husband, Todd D. Kusy, now own three of the four units in the West End Antiques condo. That level of commitment seems fitting since they met — and married — in Provincetown.
Robert T. “Tommy” Chambers Jr., profiled on the website of his firm, Tommy Chambers Interiors, owns three-quarters of 146 Commercial, with his husband, Todd D. Kusy.
¶ Last updated on 12 April 2019.
146 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 146 Commercial Street:
Thumbnail image: The Drop-In Center logo from a 1970 ad.
For further reading online
• Robert T. “Tommy” Chambers Jr.
Tommy Chambers Interiors website.
“Tommy Chambers and Todd Kusy,” Los Angeles LGBT Center / LGBT News Now, 5 December 2018.
• Patricia “Patti” (McNeil) Cozzi (1925-2013)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 114943522.
• Bruce Ronayne Hamilton
Bruce Ronayne Hamilton Architects website.
• James Collins Nickerson Paine (1818-1905)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 142767157.
• Louise C. Paine (1860-1951)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 153460733.
• Phebe A. (Cook) Paine (1836-1923)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 153461493.
• Elmer Joseph Souza (1924-1989)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 154936746.
• Joseph E. Souza (1919-1972)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 138510741.
• Mary Annuncion (Medeiros) Souza (1880-1967)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 126162894.
• Victor Joseph Souza (1876-1942)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 35384664.
• Joseph Almeida White (1903-1968)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 87214940.
• Philomena May (Souza) White (1906-1988)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 87214974.