2020 Commercial 147 01Pop + Dutch | Fisherman’s Cove Condominium (Unit C1).

Perfectly framed at the foot of Conant Street is one of the great 19th-century storefronts in Provincetown: two enormous 12-light bays with pencil-thin mullions, under a bracketed cornice, flanking a recessed entryway. Over the years, tenants have generally lived up to the high profile of the space, keeping 147 Commercial a bustling hub in the West End. That tradition goes back at least to the 1880s, when Andrew Kennedy was doing business here as a manufacturer and dealer in parlor, bedroom, dining room and kitchen furniture and furnishings, including “bedding and feathers, shades and fixtures, pictures and frames, wooden and hollow ware [metal tableware], glass and crockery ware.” At the time, the property was denominated 140 Commercial Street.

2020 Commercial 147 02Andrew Kennedy ran a furniture and furnishings business at 147 Commercial (then denominated 140 Commercial) in the 1880s. This image is from an 1886 directory that’s been scanned by the Provincetown History Preservation Project (Page 171).

A barber shop once operated upstairs at 147 Commercial Street, according to Joseph Andrews of 28 Conant Street, whose memory could always be trusted. This photo, courtesy of his son-in-law, Paul Mendes, looks several decades too early to be of Ernest Cabral DeSilva’s shop, however.

In 1910, George Rogers (1883-1958) opened a grocery store here. Some time between 1919 and 1929 — probably after 1924, when Rogers bought this property outright from Matthias and Carrie Morris — he extended the structure some 70 feet toward the beach, to accommodate a new bowling alley. Roger’s parents were Mary Morris Rogers and Jesse D. Rogers (presumably, the Jesse Rogers who developed the Delight Cottage Resort at 113 Commercial Street). He operated the store and bowling alley until 1935, after which he became the custodian of the Governor Bradford School, 44-46 Bradford Street. During the early 1930s, Ernest Cabral DeSilva (1894-1964) ran a barber shop and radio shop at this address, alongside Rogers’s grocery store. By the late 1930s, DeSilva also had a pool room going here. Evelyn Rogers Gaudiano recalled in a comment to My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection on Facebook that the barber shop was on the left side of the storefront, and a candy store was on the right. In the same thread, David Sants remembered that the billiard parlor was upstairs. The DeSilva family lived here.

DeSilva had been born in the town of Ponta Delgada on São Miguel in the Azores. He immigrated to the United States around 1907, and worked with his brother John C. Silva as a barber, until opening a business of his own. Public accounts sometimes referred to him as Ernest Silva, a name that also appeared on the 1939 deed for this property until someone — Ernest himself in all likelihood — crossed it out and wrote “DeSilva.”

No later than 1951, the business was known as the Cozy Corner, and had been transformed into a variety store, “featuring magazines & comics, complete fountain service, druggists sundries, Johnson’s chocolates [from Tacoma], fine candies.”

2020 Commercial 147 03Left: The Cozy Corner advertised in the Advocate on 15 February 1951. Right: Same place, new name. The Advocate of 21 July 1960.

DeSilva sold the property in 1958 to Elmer Joseph Souza (1924-1989), who already owned the abutting property at No. 145. Elmer and his brother, Curtis J. Souza (a/k/a Stoddard, I believe), reopened the place in 1960 as the Cove Lunch Shoppe. Neighbors knew the place simply as Elmer’s, Peter Robert Cook recalled in a comment posted to the My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection page on Facebook.¹ “Elmer was always smiling,” Sants said in the same thread.

At the time of the reopening, The Advocate reported:

“The shop has been rearranged, fine new equipment added, a modern tile floor laid, and the whole brightened and made super-cheerful. In addition to light lunches and snacks, the shop will carry essential groceries, dairy products, and, as Elmer says, ‘A little bit of everything.’ The boys are going to be open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., including Sundays.”

Elmer’s wife, Vivian A. “Viv” (Santos) (Guertin) Souza (1921-2006), was also involved in the management and operation of the Cove Shoppe. In the early years, the telephone number was easily memorable, since it was an inverted version of the address: 174.

In 1970, the Souzas and Stoddard sold No. 145 and No. 147 to Richard W. Felton and Horace E. Stowman. The Cove Shoppe continued to operate, but was now nicknamed Dickie Felton’s, said Kerin Francis Brodie, in a comment posted to the My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection page on Facebook.²

When Joseph P. Segar converted both 145 and 147 Commercial into the Fisherman’s Cove Condominium in 1981, the commercial unit at No. 147 was purchased by Evelyn M. Simon and renamed Simon’s Deli. The Cape Cod Bank and Trust Company foreclosed Simon’s mortgage in 1993 and transferred the ownership to Frank McLean.

2020 Commercial 147 04Many in the current generation came to know 147 Commercial as the Provincetown General Store. The photo was taken in 2008 by David W. Dunlap.

2020 Commercial 147 05One terrific feature of the storefront is that the display windows wrap around both sides. This 2008 photo, by David W. Dunlap, also shows how much larger the building is than its retail frontage.

2020 Commercial 147 06The 21st century has already seen three distinct businesses operating at No. 147.

2020 Commercial 147 07Brian Larkin, who confesses “I love that place,” posted his painting of 147 Commercial Street on Facebook on 22 January 2017. The work is 8-by-9 inches, and is done in cold wax.

2020 Commercial 147 08The Provincetown General Store is picturesque enough to warrant its own postcard, posted by Salvador R. Vasques III in his My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection on Facebook, 17 November 2017.

2020 Commercial 147 09A 2009 view by David W. Dunlap.

At some point in the 1990s, the name of the business was changed to the Provincetown General Store. The owners of the business, through McLayne Partners Inc., were Wesley M. Layne of Provincetown and Kevin D. McColl of Boston. The General Store became an especially popular spot for visitors on their way to Herring Cove Beach to buy sandwiches. (There was even a “Herring Cove” for $6.50 — smoked free-range turkey, havarti cheese with dill, sprouts, avocado slices, and mayonnaise, on a French roll.) Layne met Richard R. Goudreau, who came to work at the store; they fell in love and began a 10-year partnership. Liz Lovati, the proprietor of Angel Foods at 467 Commercial Street in the East End, took over the business in 2012 and rebranded it as “Angel Foods at the Provincetown General Store.” This incarnation, however, was short-lived.

2020 Commercial 147 10Looking down Conant Street in early April 2010. David W. Dunlap.

2020 Commercial 147 11Even before it opened in, Pop + Dutch was clearly trying to evoke an old-fashioned general store — albeit one that sold lubricant. David W. Dunlap (2014).

2020 Commercial 147 12Once again, a popular stopping place for beach lunches. David W. Dunlap (2016).

Pop + Dutch was the next step, in 2014. The proprietors are Rebecca Orchant and her husband, Sean Gardner, who moved here from Brooklyn, where she had written about food for HuffPost Taste and he had managed the Court Street Grocers. Neither one, it turns out, is Pop. Or Dutch. (Those were family nicknames for his great-grandparents, who lived in Manomet.) After learning from people in town that sex supplies had been among the best sellers at the Provincetown General Store, Orchant and Gardner adopted the motto: “Sandwiches. Salads. Lube.” She described their overall approach:

“We’re going to roast our own roast beef and turkey in-house for sandwiches, use tons of hearty greens, focus on the kind of respectably healthy things we always crave after one too many lobster rolls, and make them as quickly as possible so you can get to the danged beach already. But, we’re also us. So there will be overly buttery breakfast sandwiches, pimento cheese out the proverbial yin-yang, and a metric f**k-ton of cold brewed iced coffee. A little bit of Brooklyn in Provincetown, but hopefully in the ‘Yay, this is delicious’ way, and not the ‘Oh hell, the hipsters have arrived’ way.”³

As of this writing, Pop + Dutch was still in business.

¶ Last updated on 3 February 2021.

147 Commercial Street on the Town Map.

Also at 145-147 Commercial Street:

Artemas Paine’s Wharf.

Tom Sharp Designs | Sixty Special Home Store | Fisherman’s Cove Condominium (Units M1C-M3C, M1R-M3R).

Fisherman’s Cove Condominium (Units B1-B4).

Former Fishermen’s Cove Restaurant | Fisherman’s Cove Condominium (Unit B5).

Cart road | Town landing.

Fisherman’s Cove Condominium (Units L1-L12).

Thumbnail image: Photo, 2009, by David W. Dunlap.

In memoriam

• Elmer Joseph Souza (1924-1989)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 154936746.

• Vivian A. “Viv” (Santos) (Guertin) Souza (1921-2006)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 154936732.

• George Rogers (1883-1958)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 129136779.

¹ 10 April 2019.

² 10 April 2019.

³ “Why I Quit Food Writing to Go Open a Sandwich Shop,” by Rebecca Orchant, 25 March 2014, updated on 6 December 2017.

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