Sandbar Village Condominium (Units B1 and B2).
Judy Holliday! For her scintillating performance in Born Yesterday, the young star bested Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard) and Bette Davis (All About Eve) in the amazing Oscar competition of 1951. Despite her fame, however, Holliday’s cameo appearances in Provincetown a decade later are little remembered these days. And that’s not altogether surprising. She stayed in the relative seclusion of the Sandbar Village complex, as a guest of Reginald Warren “Reggie” Cabral (1923-1996), after a recurrence of the breast cancer that would eventually take her life at age 43. And she was staying here with the jazz musician Gerry Mulligan, to whom she was not married.
The compound of three buildings behind the Thai Lounge Bistro & Monkey Bar dates back to the days when this was the property of the Powes, who were mariners and fishmongers. The central figure in the family business was Andrew Thomas Powe (1867-1930), a Provincetown native, who married Bessie Elsworth (Beaver) Powe (1858-1938), of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The firm of Powe Brothers, fish dealers, was established by 1908, when it appeared in The New England Business Directory, but the family had owned this waterfront parcel — including what’s now Monkey Bar — in the 1880s. Under the old numbering system, it was denominated 144 Commercial Street.
Left: This particular building (or at least a structure on this footprint) was depicted on an 1889 insurance map as a two-story warehouse. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map From Provincetown, Barnstable County, Massachusetts (1889). Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. Digital ID g3764pm.g038261889. Right: On maps ranging from 1929 to 1959, the building was labeled a dwelling and given the address 149B Commercial Street. Sanborn Map Company, Provincetown (1938), Plate 4. Sanborn Historic Land Maps, Town of Provincetown website.
By the early 1950s, the Powe property was owned by the great “Sea Fox” himself, Capt. Manuel Zora (1895-1979), and his wife, Judith Greene (Tobey) Zora (1907-1969). She sold the complex in 1956 to the equally celebrated Reggie Cabral, owner of the Atlantic House. It seems that the “Sandbar Village” designation came into use during Cabral’s ownership.
I believe this cottage was the summer home of Norman Carton (1908-1980), an abstract expressionist who taught at the New School in New York City, and his wife, Margo.
I also believe — on the strength Cabral’s reference to a “little deck” — that this was the cottage in which Holliday and Mulligan stayed when he was in town, playing sax surreptitiously at the A-House. (Cabral was prohibited by Mulligan’s record company from publicizing live appearances by the saxophonist.) Here is the account in Cabral’s own words, from an interview published in The Cape Cod Times on 12 December 1976:
“They lived at Sandbar Village. Technically, he lived upstairs and she lived down below. … At that time, she was already dying of cancer and she spent most of her time on the little deck in front of the place.
“She very rarely went out. She didn’t want to be seen by the public. She was already losing weight very rapidly. A delightful person, and she was always witty. She was funny. She never was down when she was dying.
“She and Gerry Mulligan lived together, and every time they were in Provincetown, they were together. But we kind of try to keep that away from the general public.”¹
Left: Judy Holliday in 1960, from Wikimedia Commons. Right: 149A Commercial Street in 2018. David W. Dunlap.
When David B. Willard created the seven-unit Sandbar Village condo in 1984, this structure was called Building B. Its units are designated B1 and B2 on the assessor’s rolls. At this writing, both units are owned by the same Boston resident.
The building with Units B1 and B2 is in the center of this 2010 photo by David W. Dunlap.
¶ Last updated on 3 May 2019.
149A Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 149-149A Commercial Street:
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2011, by David W. Dunlap.
For further reading online
• Reginald Warren “Reggie” Cabral (1923-1996)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 51635551.
• Norman Carton (1908-1980)
“Norman Carton, Painter, Is Dead; Taught at New School 18 Years,” The New York Times, 20 February 1980.
• Andrew Thomas Powe (1867-1930)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 153412904.
• Bessie Elsworth (Beaver) Powe (1858-1938)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 153413159.
¹ “For Reggie Cabral, Provincetown Memories Are Full of Jazz,” by Mary Klein, The Sunday Cape Cod Times, 12 December 1976. Scanned by the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Municipal Collection, Page 5115.