Home at Last.
Two giants of Provincetown life, each emblematic of the era in which he lived, shared this full Cape, though more than a half century separated their residence here. Artemus Paine Hannum (1847-1921), a sailmaker and leading Mason, was born and died in the house. The artist and writer Jackson Lambert (1919-2011) bought it in 1974 and made it his home for the next 32 years — at least, when he was getting along with his wife, the dancer and artist Carmen Esther (Felt) Lambert (1915-1998). “I went out for a loaf of bread once and was gone two years,” he recalled to Sally Rose of The Banner in a 2009 interview.¹
150 Commercial Street in 2011. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
Artemus Hannum had followed his father, Charles A. Hannum (1817-1898), in the trade of sailmaking. They were quartered in a sail loft at Union Wharf, 99-101 Commercial Street, which was in its day the business hub of Provincetown. Artemus was a very big fish in the small pond at land’s end: the master of King’s Hiram Lodge, from 1877 to 1878; a selectman, from 1909 to 1921; and the clerk of Hose Company 2, 117 Commercial Street. He married Julia Ella Farwell (1848-1893), whose first husband, Capt. Joseph M. Farwell, had perished aboard the schooner Mary G. Curran during a hurricane in 1887. For all of Mrs. Hannum’s lifetime — and much of Mr. Hannum’s — this property was denominated 145 Commercial Street, under the old numbering system.
From posterity’s standpoint, Artemus Hannum’s most important role was in the creation of the Pilgrim Monument. He was among the six incorporators of the Cape Cod Memorial Association of Provincetown in February 1892. This organization was merged in 1901 with the Pilgrim Memorial Association of Brewster to create the entity that undertook development and construction of the monument, from 1907 to 1910. Together with President Theodore Roosevelt and Gov. Curtis Guild Jr. of Massachusetts, Hannum was one of five men who spread cement with a ceremonial trowel as the corner stone was laid. His sailboat, Omar, was purchased in 1939 and reconstructed, as Ranger, by Joseph Andrews and Francis A. “Flyer” Santos. Ranger continues sailing to this day.
Left: Photo of Artemus Hannum posted by Jnmkiley on Ancestry, 21 June 2013. Right: Photo of Philip Hannum from the 1936-1937 Long Pointer, in the School Collection on Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5821.
The Hannum family continued to own this home for three decades after Artemus died. Occupants included Artemus’s sister, Elizabeth W. “Lizzie” Hannum (1861-1932); Artemus’s sons, William Porter “Bill” Hannum (1889-1946) and Charles B. Hannum (1883-1931); and Charles’s sons, with Ethel S. (Hamilton) Hannum (1882-1958): Philip F. Hannum (1919-1990) and Charles R. Hannum (1918-1982).
Bill Hannum, a teacher, spent his adult life in Fall River, but “never felt that any other place than Provincetown was his home,” The Advocate said at the time of his death. He and his wife, Marian Etta Ross Hannum, would camp in the dunes near Race Point during summers. He was a skilled small boat handler, The Advocate said, and “thoroughly enjoyed the pursuits of clamming and making beach plum jelly.” Hannum served during World War I as a coxswain in the U.S. Naval Reserve Force.
Philip Hannum distinguished himself early as a member of the Class of 1937 at P.H.S. He was elected president of the class in his junior year, and vice president in his sophomore and senior years. He was editor-in-chief of the Long Pointer yearbook, and president of the National Honor Society. Hannum interrupted his college career at Tufts in 1942 to enlist in the Army Air Forces. He served as a navigator during World War II, then completed his studies and was graduated from Tufts in 1947.
Shortly after Walter J. Croteau, proprietor of the Korner Kitchen restaurant, purchased the property from the Hannums in 1953, for $7,500, he discovered a 465-page business journal that had been kept by Artemus’s father, Charles, beginning in 1863. The journal went into remarkable detail about the work at the Hannums’ sail loft. For instance, the schooner Elbridge Perry was charged $73.72 (about $1,500 today) for a flying jib with a bighted seam: $57 for 76 yards of new flax duck, or sailcloth; $14.22 for labor; $1.30 for 26 grommets; 90¢ for nine yards of old duck; and 30¢ for three thimbles.
Croteau evidently donated the Charles Hannum journal to The Advocate. He permitted his front yard to be used by the Provincetown Civic Association for the first in its Plant-a-Tree-a-Year drive, a Siberian elm, in 1953. With the town’s permission in 1958, he began selling homemade pastries from 150 Commercial. In 1970, he sold the house for $28,000 to Charles P. Howland III of New Haven and Michael L. Ahern of Provincetown. They sold it in turn, for $38,000, to David F. Young in 1973. A year later, he sold 150 Commercial to Jackson Lambert for quite a lot less than what he’d paid: $26,000.
Three self-portraits by Jackson Lambert. Left and center: From the Helen and Napi Van Dereck Collection. Right: On the Douglas N. Trumbo Memorial, Freeman Street. All photos by David W. Dunlap.
A collection of Lambert’s cartoons, Souvenir of Provincetown, was published by the Napi Van Dereck Press in 1988. Cats were a favorite motif — of both men.
Provincetown has known more eccentric characters than Lambert, but none quite as funny. Great visual acuity and gentle wit pervade his art, which survives on a truly environmental scale at Napi’s Restaurant, 7 Freeman Street, and at the White Horse Inn, 500 Commercial Street, which he lavishly adorned with paintings, signs, and sculptures. His cartoons and stream-of-consciousness observations were familiar for years to readers of the “Jackson Hole” column in The Advocate and then in The Banner.
Born in Indiana and raised in Illinois, Lambert first came to Provincetown with an art instructor, LaForce Bailey, in the 1930s. He returned in 1942 and leased a studio at the F. A. Day & Sons lumber yard (now the Fine Arts Work Center) on Pearl Street. Lambert joined the Army that year, serving as a tank gunner, from the D-Day landing in France through the liberation of Czechoslovakia. Frank D. Schaefer, proprietor of the White Horse with his wife, Mary Martin, wrote this about Lambert in 2002:
“He lives in one of the oldest houses in town with his cats and the occasional dog, surrounded by a circle of female admirers. His second home is the O.C., the Old Colony Tap. Jackson, one of Provincetown’s most prolific artists, paints and sells out of his studio, where he writes and illustrates a weekly column for the local paper (some 1,250 columns so far), and works on his memoirs, Squid Row. In his back yard, he is putting back together the Siberian elm that hit his house when a hurricane felled it. His sculptures — ‘biodegradable,’ he calls them — enhance my back yard; he also built total wood-environment studio apartments in my house out of found objects, driftwood, and dump pickings.”²
In 2006, Lambert bought the house at 7 Old Cemetery Road where he spent his final years.
Rhoda (Perlstein) Rossmoore (1925-2015), another vibrant force in the town’s cultural life, bought 150 Commercial Street that year, though she is more closely identified with 68 Commercial Street.
Her daughter, the artist Amy T. Germain (±1958-2016), lived here. “She created everything from simple sketches to paintings and found-art sculptures, and enjoyed taking classes with others to hone her skills,” Germain’s obituary stated. “When she wasn’t taking classes herself, she was often sought after as a model. She was a licensed pilot as well as an avid sailor and swimmer (as anyone who’s been talked into a wintertime dip in the bay can attest to). Amy was passionate about public service. An active participant in Town Meetings, she also served on the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Recycling and Renewable Energy Committee, and was a representative to the Cape Light Compact Governing Board.”³
The property remains in the Germain family.
A night view in 2008 shows the illuminated lighthouse made by the Kacergis family at Provincetown Welding Works. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
Homegrown tomatoes were offered for sale in the front yard in 2010. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
The “Home at Last” kick plate in 2011. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
Left: Close-up of the Kacergis lighthouse in 2011. Right: A billy goat by the sculptor Jack Kearney, chewing on an old tin can, could be spotted in residence in 2017. Both photos by David W. Dunlap.
¶ Last updated on 22 August 2019.
150 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Thumbnail image: Photo in 2008 by David W. Dunlap.
Kent Ancliffe wrote on 26 December 2014: Jackson is the best friend a man could ever have. I met him in Provincetown in 1964, on June 19. I had just turned 21 and knew in my soul that I had reconnected with a dear old soul. I guess that would make Jackson in his early 40s. He bought my first beer at the Fo’csle bar on Commercial Street. I was dead broke, but I knew I had come home again.
I asked him where I could get a quick job, because I had just been robbed in Boston of my worldly possessions: one 10-year-old Vespa motor scooter and my bedroll and kit. I just went into a bar somewhere in Bean Town for a quickie, and after two beers I came out to zip. I was the sole owner of an old pair of jeans and one T-shirt. My feet probably had the standard sneakers with a small hole beginning to wear on the right corner. And that was it. One wallet with ID and $2. (I hadn’t put the emergency roll of $50 in the brim of my Australian bush hat. Actually I had, but that was about eaten up by the time I hit the Massachusetts border. I had scooted up from Florida and no one had much money in those days, so the emergency fund had already been attacked somewhere around Macon, Ga. A lovely state as I recall. My beard and long hair had gotten me busted, and after two nights in the southern states of our lovely land, I got the hell out of Dodge, so to speak.)
It’s amazing when you are young and have nothing but your mind and a will to experience life, but I was a wealthy young man with a friend like Jackson.
I was only in town and I met a great soul and the promise of a few hours of work the next day. As for rooming, I never really cared, as long as it wasn’t snowing. But when they robbed me of my bed roll, I was pissed. Someone said to check out some rooming house down a lane off Commercial and look for the Captain’s Quarters. They said I could probably get a room for the night on credit or a few hours of yard work, but that was the start of the greatest 40 years of a town called Ptown. It went either way, as the sign said, as I entered its borders. Long story short, I met Frank Schaefer and Adam Wolfe and the most colorful of them all: the great Howard Mitcham. (Forgive the spelling.)
As many of us had a special story to tell about beginning a young man’s life, mine was my story. But without Jackson, I would not have a special story to tell. Over the many years I knew Jackson, we froze through winters without much money, but someone had a bottle somewhere or we would make our own juice. I tip my hat to George Wickstrom who had a 50-gallon ceramic pot and helped Jackson, Fred Moran and myself make the first batch of our famous “Jack Ass.” It wasn’t as strong as the “Sweet Baby Jesus,” but it got us through the first and coldest winter I ever spent in Ptown. That was the year the bed froze solid.
I could go on forever with great memories, but for now I just want to say I miss you my good friend and I know we will all meet up again somewhere else someday. Cheers my friend.
For further research online:
• Artemus Paine Hannum (1847-1921)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 51347934.
• Charles A. Hannum (1817-1889)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 51360453.
• Julia Ella (Farwell) Hannum (1848-1893)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 51360496.
• William Porter “Bill” Hannum (1889-1946)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 51360308.
• Rhoda (Perlstein) Rossmoore (1925-2015)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 150809576.
¹ “Provincetown Artist Jackson Lambert Celebrates Nine Decades of Creative Life,” by Sally Rose, The Provincetown Banner/Wicked Local, 14 November 2009.
² “Provincetown People: Jackson as a Present,” by Ewa Nogiec, I Am Provincetown.
³ “Amy T. Germain,” Current Obituary, 12 December 2016.