Sandbar Village Condominium (Units C1 to C3).
Even when the rest of the waterfront complex behind the Thai Lounge Bistro & Monkey Bar was given over to the Powe family’s fish business in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this building always served as a residence. (Undoubtedly a fragrant residence, but a residence all the same.) In the mid-20th century, it housed two of Provincetown’s greatest characters in succession: Capt. Manuel Zora (1895-1979), skipper of the Paroga and the rum-running “Sea Fox” of Prohibition fame; and Reginald Warren “Reggie” Cabral (1923-1996), owner of the Atlantic House and the impresario who brought top-echelon jazz performers to Provincetown in the 1950s.
The Powes 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 building was depicted on an 1889 insurance map as a dwelling. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map From Provincetown, Barnstable County, Massachusetts (1889). Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. Digital ID g3764pm.g038261889. Right: Maps ranging from 1929 to 1959 also showed it as a dwelling, 149A 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 Captain Zora and his wife, Judith Greene (Tobey) Zora (1907-1969). Zora was a native of Olhão, on the southern coast of Portugal, who had come to the States aboard Cabo Verde. He made his reputation piloting Mary Ellen, a fishing vessel named for his daughter, through the dead of night out to the “mother ships” that waited just beyond U.S. territorial waters with the liquor needed to satisfy a very thirsty America. Mary Ellen would pick up as many bottles as she could carry and land them in underwater hiding spots around the Provincetown and Truro shores, to be retrieved later when the authorities were busy elsewhere. Cunning and wily, Zora earned the nickname “Sea Fox” from the Coast Guard.
Capt. Manuel Zora, in a portrait by John W. Gregory, from My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection on Facebook, posted by Salvador R. Vasques III on 18 February 2019.
In 1956, Judith Tobey sold the property to Cabral. In 1959, he married the artist Meara McKie (1926-1996), who had come to Provincetown several years earlier to study with Hans Hofmann. They shared this home in the summer. Frank Crotty of The Worcester Telegram caught up with the Cabrals in 1960:
“Over the fireplace of their Provincetown house is the finest Hans Hofmann painting I have ever seen. … Also in the Provincetown living room were several pieces of sculpture …. There were many paintings. Well-known artists represented included Franz Kline, Milton Avery, and Alberto Burri.
“‘A very important thing here,’ said Reggie, ‘is that record player. Meara has it going virtually all the time. She goes to sleep to the music of Miles Davis and wakes up to Sonny Rollins.’ Meara introduced me to her collie, Princess, and to Miss Miles, her cat. She added that she had two hamsters, but they were not immediately available. There were also several children running about the place.”¹
Mary Klein took this photograph of Reggie Cabral for her 1976 profile in The Cape Cod Times, reproduced on the Provincetown History Preservation Project website, Page 5115.
Upstairs at Judy Zora’s, by Mary Hackett, was painted in 1947, and posted in My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection on Facebook by Salvador R. Vasques III on 20 November 2017.
When David B. Willard created the seven-unit Sandbar Village condo in 1984, this structure was called Building C. Its three units are designated C1, C2, and C3 on the assessor’s rolls. At this writing, they’re owned by residents of Milton; Woodbridge, Conn.; and San Francisco.
The only way to see the front of the house is down the narrow alleyway between 149 and 151 Commercial Street. David W. Dunlap (2010).
A side view, with the Sandbar Village facade. David W. Dunlap (2010).
¶ Last updated on 3 May 2019.
149A Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 149-149A Commercial Street:
Thai Lounge Bistro & Monkey Bar | Former Cottage Restaurant.
Sandbar Village Condominium (Units A1 and A2).
Sandbar Village Condominium (Units B1 and B2).
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2010, by David W. Dunlap.
For further reading online
• Meara (McKie) Cabral (1926-1996)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 107021044.
• Reginald Warren “Reggie” Cabral (1923-1996)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 51635551.
• Andrew Thomas Powe (1867-1930)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 153412904.
• Bessie Elsworth (Beaver) Powe (1858-1938)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 153413159.
¹ “Artist Doesn’t Mind ‘Beatnik’ Tab,” by Frank Crotty, reprinted in The Provincetown Advocate, 2 June 1960.