Commercial 160 Thumb 2011Grozier-Cabral House.

Heroic in every way, 160 Commercial Street is the closest thing Provincetown has to the fantasy embodiment of what a captain’s house ought to be. It is large, of course, and all white clapboard; nobly proportioned; a landmark on the skyline, thanks to a magnificent cupola from which masts could be seen making their way around the Back Shore; and set off on a fine front lawn. It commands a view of the harbor (an uninterrupted view until the construction of the Boatslip Waterfront Hotel & Beach Club in the 1960s) and of the distant horizon beyond. It is impeccably pedigreed, held by only two families in its 190-year history — first Yankee, then Portuguese. And it is not without its share of drama.

Commercial 160Left: A trip to the cupola begins in the large attic space under the roof gable. Right: Behind the oval mirror is the steep flight of stairs — at an incline of about 30 degrees — leading to the cupola. These photographs were taken in 2012 by David W. Dunlap.

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Jennifer Cabral in the cupola, 2014. (Dunlap.)

Commercial 160 Stephen Desroches 2008Steve Desroches in the cupola on Halloween in 2008. Courtesy of Steve Desroches, who added, “Please pardon my unladylike pose.”

Good thing for the fantasy: it is a captain’s house. Capt. Joseph Atkins (1766-1851) was  the developer of the enormous Central Wharf nearby and the proprietor, with David Fairbanks, of the Central Wharf Company’s general store. Atkins, who was born in Truro, married Ruth Nickerson (1770-1854) in 1789. They had 10 children, including William A. Atkins (1818-1897), who would have been an adolescent when this house was constructed for his family, around 1830. It was originally denominated 157 Commercial.

William Atkins and Eben S. Smith were admitted to the Central Wharf Company partnership while Captain Atkins was still alive. With a couple of interruptions, the younger Atkins was at the helm of the company until 1864. Two years later, on the account of Eben Smith, a 117-ton whaling schooner, William A. Grozier, was built in Provincetown, at the John Whitcomb shipyard. Atkins owned this vessel until at least 1886, by which time he was reckoned to be the wealthiest man in Provincetown, according to Clive Driver’s Looking Back (2004).¹

In 1840, after the house was standing, William Atkins married Abigail N. Freeman (1820-1842). She died two years later, at the age of 22, shortly after the death of their two-month-old son, William N. F. Atkins. Following this double tragedy, Atkins married again in 1842. His new wife was Jane Freeman Grozier (1819-1886) of Provincetown.

Among Jane’s nephews — through her brother Joshua — were William Allen Grozier, who may have been the namesake of the schooner William A. Grozier, and Edwin Atkins Grozier (1859-1924), about whom we’ll be hearing a lot a few paragraphs from now.

Though he was approaching 70 when his second wife died, William Atkins apparently was not ready to abandon courtship, at least according to a lawsuit filed against him by Eliza B. Dolliver of Boston, and uncovered by Clive Driver. She charged Atkins with lacerating her heart by holding out the promise of marriage when he had no intention of going through with it. Driver quoted from newspaper stories published in 1890:

“She accepted an invitation from him to visit his palatial residence in Provincetown, he at the same time stating to her improvements [to the house] he was to make, and that she could move her piano and trunk to the house. At this time he kissed her.”

Atkins allowed that the kiss might have happened, but denied making any such bargain. Since it was 1890, there is no surprise to the conclusion. He was acquitted.

Commercial 160Left: Capt. Joseph Atkins was the builder of the house. His tombstone was photographed by David W. Dunlap in 2017. Right: Captain Atkins’s son, William, owned the whaling schooner William A. Grozier. Illustration from Wooden Ships and Iron Men, by Reginald W. Cabral and James Theriault, 1994.

Six months after Atkins died, in 1897, his palatial Commercial Street house was sold by his executor for $2,650 to Edwin Grozier, Atkins’s nephew by marriage.

Grozier looms large in Provincetown history, and not alone because he made The Boston Post the most widely circulated morning newspaper in America in the early 20th century as its editor and publisher. He provided a template for the wealthy washashores who have followed him to this day: owning a prominent property in which he lived infrequently, while winning the good will of the town through significant benefactions.

And at a time when the California-Cape Cod connection seems to grow stronger each year, it’s worth noting that Grozier was born in San Francisco; or rather, according to family legend, in the middle of the Golden Gate (74 years before the bridge was built), aboard a clipper shop belonging to his father, Capt. Joshua F. Grozier. Edwin was no stranger to Provincetown. He attended grammar and high school here until he was 15.

Despite having been born with sea legs, Grozier gravitated to journalism. After graduating from Boston University and serving as secretary to the governor of Massachusetts, Grozier traveled to New York in 1885 to work directly under Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of The New York World and later the namesake of the Pulitzer Prize. It was an eventful year for Grozier, as he also married Alice G. Goodell (1864-1943). He also found time in this period to write “The Wreck of the ‘Somerset'” for The World, which was reprinted in The Provincetown Advocate, and then as a booklet.²

Commercial 160 Allen GallantThe Boston Post of 9 January 1936, from the collection of Allen Gallant.

In 1891, six years before buying the Atkins house, Grozier acquired the bankrupt 60-year-old Boston Post, whose paid circulation had dwindled to 3,000. Grozier told his creditors that if the business were pushed into insolvency, they would get nothing, but that if they gave him time, they would be repaid everything owed them, plus interest.

Grozier was one-part Barnum. To build circulation, he invited readers to submit aphorisms that would be printed, with credit, in the skyline at the top of Page 1 each morning. (Sample: “The woman who wants to hold her husband can do no better than to study his mother.”) Any reader who sent in a usable news item would receive $2, but during one contest, readers who sent in the best news item received an automobile. (“A Ford a Day Given Away!”) The Post bought three elephants for the Franklin Park Zoo, inviting the children of Boston to join in as co-owners for as little as a penny; 60,000 did so. The Post ran mystery photographs of women shoppers, cropped so that their heads were out of the frame. If a subject could identify her headless self, and if she showed up at the Post office in the same outfit as pictured, she would be given $10 in gold.³

His best circulation stunt was so good that it endures to this day: the Boston Post Cane a walking stick of ebony with a 14-karat gold head. Six hundred and ninety-two canes were distributed in 1909 by The Post to local governments around New England. They were to be transmitted to the oldest male citizen in town. (Women were ineligible until 1930.)⁴

Commercial 160Left: Article in Hearst’s Magazine, January-June 1914, from Google Books. Right: The Boston Post Cane.

Provincetown still has its original cane and continues the tradition, awarding the Boston Post Cane to the oldest voting citizen. The cane is not actually given to the honoree to keep, but is brought out of the vault, in a velvet pouch, and presented ceremonially. The recipient is given a commemorative pin instead. The transmittal of the cane can have a bittersweet quality to it, since recipients — like Joseph Andrews, 98, in November 2018, and Miriam Stubbs, 99,  only five months later — are, by definition, reaching the end of their lives. On the other hand, Frances (Perry) Raymond lived for more than five years after she received the cane in March 2004 at the age of 99.⁵

Other Provincetown recipients have included Capt. Ed Walter Smith, the last living native of the Long Point settlement, in the early 1940s; Capt. Alexander Kemp, a retired Grand Banks skipper, in the mid-1940s; Abbie (Ryder) Atwood, also in the mid-1940s; Harry Simmons, for a few months in 1947; Louise “Mid” Paine, until her death in 1951; Florence Walden, to whom the cane was presented on her 100th birthday in February 1958 (she had declined it four years earlier, saying she didn’t think she’d have much use for it); Lina Berry, 99, in January 2016; and Gladys Johnstone, 97, the mother of one-time Town Clerk Douglas Johnstone, in June 2019.⁶ It was one of the canniest newspaper publicity schemes ever devised. (It was certainly the caniest.)

The cane, the elephants, the candids, the aphorisms all added up. On Grozier’s watch, “The Great Breakfast Table Paper of New England” reached a circulation of 650,000.

Edwin and his son, Richard Grozier (1887-1946), were mindful of their Cape Cod connection. Certainly the Groziers’ greatest gift to the town was Grozier Park, a privately-owned public space on the waterfront, directly opposite the house, where the Boatslip now stands. But they contributed in other ways. For instance, they bought $55,000 worth of U.S. Treasury bonds in 1918 to boost Provincetown’s official contribution to the Fourth Liberty Loan, one of the public financing mechanisms in the American war effort.

When the older Grozier suffered a breakdown in 1920, the younger Grozier — a graduate of Philips Exeter Academy and Harvard College — effectively took over The Post. During his stewardship, the newspaper reached its journalistic zenith, exposing a brazen, big-time swindle by an outfit called the Securities Exchange Company. It promised investors returns that were quite literally fantastic, through what it described as a legitimate form of arbitrage. Actually, the company was paying high returns to existing investors from funds deposited by subsequent investors. It was a set-up that was doomed to fail by its very nature. Articles in The Post caused investors’ runs on the company, laying bare to federal and state authorities the fraud underlying it all. The perpetrator was arrested.

And who was the mastermind behind this scheme? A man named Charles Ponzi.

For unmasking the multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, The Post won the Pulitzer Prize for public service (first among equals in the Pulitzer constellation) in 1921.

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Commercial 160 2017The Grozier family mausoleum at the Alden Street Cemetery, in 2017. Edwin Atkins Grozier is immurred in the upper left vault. Photographs by David W. Dunlap.

Around this time, Margaret “Peggy” Murphy (1899-1933) of The Post began coming to 160 Commercial during the summers to perform secretarial work for Edwin Grozier. A romance began between Peggy and Richard that led to their marriage in October 1929, just as the stock market was crashing. She died in 1933 during childbirth. A year later, Grozier was remarried, to Helen Doherty (±1897-1963), a graduate of the Waltham Training School for Nurses, who had been Peggy Grozier’s private nurse.

Still inconsolably depressed by Peggy’s death, Richard Grozier was committed to McLean Hospital in Belmont, where he died in 1946. Meanwhile, Helen resumed the family’s summer tenancy of 160 Commercial, which was evidently suspended in the ’30s. Beginning in 1940, The Advocate recorded the arrival and departure each summer of “Mrs. Richard Grozier” and her children. In 1952, she sold The Post to John Fox of Boston, under whom it survived only four more years. The last notice of the family’s use of their Provincetown house came in September 1960: “Mrs. Richard Grozier has closed her home at 160 Commercial Street and returned to Cambridge for the winter.”

Helen Grozier died in 1963, but she is not immured in the family’s imposing mausoleum in the Alden Street Cemetery (also known as the Town Cemetery). That honor was reserved for Edwin, Alice, Richard, and Margaret. Additionally, two of Richard and Margaret’s children — Margaret Mary Grozier and David Peter Grozier — are memorialized on the walls of the mausoleum, which is vaguely Egyptian-style in its form and proportions, but without Egyptian motifs or any other decorative flourishes.

Six months after Helen’s death, surviving members of the Grozier family sold 160 Commercial and Grozier Park for $40,000 (about $340,000 in 2020 dollars) to Reginald Warren “Reggie” Cabral (1923-1996) and his wife, Meara (McKie) Cabral (1926-1996).

Commercial 160 Boxell 02-065A 1952 view of the house, taken from Grozier Park, by Althea Boxell. It  can be seen in Book 2, Page 65 of the Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell in the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 700.

The house came to life.

One of the first things the Cabrals did was to illuminate the magnificent cupola — creating a cheering sight on the town skyline during the winter nights that immediately followed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. “They are in the process of getting heat upstairs,” The Advocate reported, “so are held up in planning housewarming events this season, but nothing can stop them from keeping the dome lighted.”

It may be that the cupola light was always blue, as it’s been since the Cabrals’ daughter Jennifer reoccupied the house in 2007. “I just assumed it originated with my parents,” she said on the My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection Facebook page in August 2018. “My mom kept a blue light at the door everywhere we ever lived when I was a kid.”⁷

Her “mom,” the artist Meara McKie, was born in Augusta, Ga. She attended William and Mary College and the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University). In 1947, she married John M. Nicolson. The couple had three children — David, Peter, and Anne (“Robin”) — before they divorced.

Meara moved with her children in 1958 to study with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown. She also took a job at the Atlantic House.

At that point, the Atlantic House had been owned about a decade by Reggie Cabral and his brother-in-law Frank J. Hurst Jr. (1916-2001). Cabral had turned a longtime institution into the most happening spot in town. The Atlantic House was a favorite of artists, who knew that a delinquent tab might on occasion be forgiven for an artwork, and of musicians, who found themselves in the kind of high-flying company they might expect on West 52nd Street in Manhattan. Meara Nicolson fit right in. “She was a Tennessee Williams kind of person from the deep South,” the artist Tony Vevers recalled.⁸

“She could go anywhere and be comfortable. She could wear anything and look good,” said Robyn Watson, director of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum at the time of Meara’s death. Victor Alexander, who was a bartender at the Atlantic House when Meara worked there, said: “She had a lovely body, and when she walked down the street, you noticed her. She wore Roger Rilleau sandals all the time, and always wore a lot of Herman and Carl Tasha’s beautiful jewelry.”⁸

“So many people think they can buy elegance or learn it,” Watson said. “But she had it.”

Commercial 160Left: Portrait of Reggie Cabral, by Mary Klein, in The Sunday Cape Cod Times of 12 December 1976 (“For Reggie Cabral, Provincetown Memories Are Full of Jazz”). From the Municipal Collection of the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5115. Right: Meara Cabral. The picture was posted by Salvador R. Vasques III on his My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection page on Facebook, 7 May 2017.

Reggie Cabral was born in Provincetown to Mary T. “Mamie” (Taves) Cabral (1899-1969) and William “Captain Bill” Cabral (1898-1972), who was a fisherman and party boat operator. He grew up at 122 Commercial Street as the world beyond marched steadily into the second global war of the 20th century. He wrote an agonized poem “Why This War” for the 1940-1941 Long Pointer, not long after which he found himself serving as yeoman first class aboard U.S.S. Harry F. Bauer (DM-26), a destroyer minelayer fighting — often under great peril and with more than one close call — in the Pacific Theater.

After World War II, he and Hurst bought the Atlantic House. It’s hard to imagine many musical venues that headlined Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Eartha Kitt within a one-month period, but that was Cabral’s lineup in the late summer of 1955. Cabral also “opened the doors of his club to such young and rising painters as Mark Rothko, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, Franz Kline, and Red Grooms,” Peter Manso wrote in Ptown: Art, Sex, and Money on the Outer Cape (2002), “with the result that he assembled the core of an important collection, one he supplemented with regular purchases of works by other Provincetown artists.”

“All of the artists would congregate in the Big Room where jazz would be played and Meara and I guarded the door,” the artist Selina Trieff recalled years later.⁸

In 1959, Meara and Cabral were wed. “She complimented his passion for art,” Alexander said. Meara Cabral exhibited her drawings and sculpture at the Front Street Gallery, 432 Commercial Street, in the summer of 1961. The couple had three daughters: April Cabral, born in April 1960; September Amanda “Mandy” Cabral, born in September 1962; and Jennifer Eugenia Cabral, born in December 1969.

Between Mandy’s birth and Jennifer’s, in 1963, the Cabrals purchased the Grozier House and Grozier Park. They moved into the house and, the next year, offered to sell the park to the town for $75,000 (an 87.5 percent markup over the price they’d paid a year earlier for both parcels). The town demurred on a purchase and on condemnation. So the Cabrals eventually built the Boatslip Motor Inn, sometime between 1968 and 1970.

Commercial 160Left: Reggie Cabral’s art collection at 160 Commercial Street, pictured in the late 1980s, included works by Franz Kline. The photo was posted by Salvador R. Vasques III on his My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection page on Facebook, 24 January 2020. Right: Cabral and his collection, which included works by Charles W. Hawthorne, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring. The photo was posted by Salvador R. Vasques III on his My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection page on Facebook, 24 January 2020.

Manuela Bonnie Oppen Jordan — Reggie’s first cousin, once removed — recalled being close to two of Meara’s children, David and Robin Nicolson, and spending time at 160 Commercial Street. “I was always awed by the beauty of this spectacular home with its huge ceilings, glass-enclosed room, butler’s pantry, the majestic staircase looking down upon amazing artwork such as Peter Max and other world-renowned artists, and of course climbing up to the tippity-top steeple for the gorgeous view,” Jordan wrote in 2018. “What a home to play hide and seek. One could stay hidden for weeks! Wonderful childhood memories and of course those bigger-than-life personalities of cousin Reggie and his wife Meara, with her flowing gray waist-length mane, like a goddess.”

In 1967, Meara Cabral and a group of partners including Alexander applied for an all-year alcoholic beverage license for what they called the Studio Club, on the first and second floors of 160 Commercial. The application faced delays at Town Hall and opposition from neighbors. It’s unclear to me whether the club opened or died aborning.

Meanwhile, Reggie’s first-class collection of art kept growing, to include Francis Bacon, Keith Haring, Charles W. Hawthorne, Jasper Johns, Karl Knaths, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Max, James Wingate Parr, Myron Stout, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann. Many works were on display at the Atlantic House.

In the early 1970s, Cabral began transforming the A House into a gay venue.⁹ According to Manso’s account in Ptown, Reggie’s embrace of the gay world so infuriated Meara that she slashed a small Larry Rivers portrait of the couple into tatters. As a consequence, Manso wrote, the artworks were immediately removed from the club.¹⁰

A less colorful explanation of the migration was furnished in Reggie’s obit in The Banner: “As time progressed, Cabral’s collection of paintings and photos grew too large to house safely in the Atlantic House and were moved to his home. There, a collection of abstract and Provincetown art began to fill any available space on the walls.”¹¹

Commercial 160 2012Interiors of the house in 2012, by David W. Dunlap.

Commercial 160 2012A painting by Bruce McKain.

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The Cabrals divorced in 1976. Meara and Jennifer moved to Georgia. An enormous tragedy befell the family in 1984 when Mandy, then 21, was murdered in Bradenton, Fla., just north of Sarasota, where she had taken up residence earlier in the year. The cottage in the rear yard of 160 Commercial Street is still known as Mandy’s Cottage.

Reggie Cabral collected more than artwork. He owned first editions and literary ephemera pertaining to John Dos Passos, Norman Mailer, Eugene O’Neill, and Tennessee Williams. During the O’Neill centennial in 1988, he was the host of a benefit for the Fine Arts Work Center at this house. The attraction was his collection of O’Neill memorabilia.

Two years later, he was the host here of a “literary soirée” in the midst of the national furor over an impending criminal trial involving Mapplethorpe’s work. The Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center and its director had been charged with obscenity and illegal use of a minor in connection with seven photos in a posthumous retrospective.

In a $50-a-head benefit for the Provincetown Art Association, Cabral offered to show his private collection of Mapplethorpe photographs, which he had begun collecting in the mid-1980s. “At the time, the discussion was of their artistic merit and their beauty,” he told The Boston Globe. “I would like the people who come to the literary soirée to have the opportunity to return to those aesthetic issues and be able to ignore the current hoopla.” If that weren’t soirée enough, Mailer was also on hand to give a reading.

If there were a Provincetown salon in those years, 160 Commercial was at many times its setting. “The first time I visited there just blew my mind,” said Andy Towle, who writes and runs the gay news blog Towleroad and publishes the minimagazine Ptown Hacks, with Michael Goff. It was a reception for Fine Arts Work Center fellows in honor of Henry Geldzahler, the first curator of 20th-century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the famous friend of Warhol, David Hockney, and others. “I remember walking into the house and just being astonished at the floor-to-ceiling artwork there, and glass cases with first editions of Tennessee Williams, etc. For a budding writer it was a very heady experience.”¹⁴

One of Cabral’s last acquisitions, with April, was the Grand Central Café at 5 Masonic Place, directly opposite the A House. They bought it for $160,000 in 1992.

What made Cabral a true man of the town — and a symbol of its fast-vanishing past — was that he did not neglect Provincetown’s seafaring past. For several years near the end of his life, he worked with James Theriault on two extremely important historical books. Wooden Ships and Iron Men, a year-by-year chronicle of the era of sail, doubled as the catalog to an exhibition in the summer of 1994 at the Heritage Museum, 356 Commercial Street (now the Public Library). A year later came Every First Monday: A History of King Hiram’s Lodge, Provincetown, and Its Members: 1795-1995. Theriault was given sole credit as the author, but he noted his indebtedness to Cabral’s historical collection.

Commercial 160Left: The house was vacant from 1994 to 2007, and the property was surrounded by a chain-link fence. Right: The former front gate, signed “Nicole 94,” frames a wrought-iron brigantine, with a whale’s fluke below. Photos, 2004 and 2012, by David W. Dunlap.

“Great as our arts history is, it’s only a small part of the story of Provincetown,” Cabral told Jeff McLaughlin of The Globe in 1994, as the Heritage Museum show was being readied. “And many of the natives, the working people of this town, don’t really connect to it. To them, it’s not their history. I want to show them that the real history of Provincetown is about the ocean, about whaling, about Provincetown sailing to the farthest seas of the earth. I want the people to feel the museum here is their museum.”

Cabral moved out of this house in 1994.

An hour after closing the A House on Monday, 19 August 1996, Cabral died of a heart attack. He was 72. At the Cemetery of the Church of St. Peter the Apostle, he was buried — with military and Masonic honors — beside his parents and his daughter.

“He did more than acquire art, or preside over a popular bar,” Seth Rolbein wrote in Provincetown Magazine a week after Reggie’s death.

“By a strange combination of timing, accident, and personal preference, he came to embody something not just important, but crucial and visceral about this community. …

“Reggie Cabral was a native son who reinvented himself, who created a mythic aspect to his life here in town. He did what most people who come to Provincetown from elsewhere hope to do. He transformed himself into his own new image. …

“None of this made Reggie Cabral saintly. But it did in some ways make him prescient. It also put him in the position of being the living symbol of Provincetown’s transformation. All the town’s elements seemed to coalesce, somehow much managed to reside within this one small man who was not always articulate, who did not always remember things the same way others did, whose life (to those who did not know him well) seemed neither simple nor obvious.”

Only three months later, Meara Cabral perished of smoke inhalation during a fire that devastated the Maushope residence for the elderly at 44 Harry Kemp Way. She was 70.

There followed what Steve Desroches described in The Cape Codder as a “lengthy personal and painful struggle involving wills, irrevocable trusts, and broken relationships” between the surviving Cabral sisters. It ended in 2007 when “a judge ordered that [Jennifer] Cabral would receive the home.”

April retained ownership of the A House, the Grand Central Café, and the art collection.¹²

Commercial 160 2008The house in 2008, by David W. Dunlap.

Commercial 160 2009The house at Halloween 2009, with giant cat’s eyes in the second-floor window. (Dunlap.)

Commercial 160 2009An unusual view of the house from the northeast, in 2009. (Dunlap.)

Commercial 160 2012Under renovation in 2012. Posted on the Facebook page Provincetown – An Offering of Peace, 11 December 2012.

Commercial 160The cupola in 2011. (Dunlap.)

Commercial 160Left: Architectural detail on the southwest elevation in 2012. (Dunlap.) Right: A view from the southwest across the neighbor’s lawns in 2016. (Dunlap.)

Commercial 160 2012The second-floor porch in 2012. (Dunlap.)

Commercial 160 2012The sun room below the second-floor porch. (Dunlap.)

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Jennifer and her boyfriend, Ian Leahy, a contractor by trade, moved into the long-abandoned house and began to reclaim it, bit by bit. One of the first things they did was to remove the chain-link fence around the property. “It was the greatest symbol of keeping us locked out and the house locked in,” Cabral told Desroches.

“I’d like to have it the rest of my life,” she said to Pru Sowers of The Banner. “But no matter how long I have it, I’m going to leave it in better shape.”¹³

Two years after re-inhabiting the old house, Cabral and Leahy were married there in 2009. Cabral documented the arrival in 2013 of a number of fearless foxes on the property, including a pair that made themselves perfectly at home in a chaise on the front porch and a frolicsome bunch of kits living in and under Mandy’s Cottage.

Commercial 160 2009Ian Leahy and Jennifer Cabral were married at the house in 2009. Photo by Andre Shoals, from his album Jen and Ian’s Wedding on Facebook, 28 September 2009.

Commercial 160 Jennifer CabralA couple of fearless foxes made themselves at home on a chaise at 160 Commercial. Cabral filmed a video and posted it on Facebook, 10 June 2013.

Commercial 160From their celebrated perch, Cabral and Leahy joined the Sunday salute to essential workers on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020. Nancy Bloom’s photo appeared on the front page of The Independent, 16 April 2020.

Under the rubric Provincetown 365, Cabral organized the fundraising needed to replace the faded and frayed portraits by Norma Holt composing They Also Faced the Sea, on the pier shed at Fishermen’s Wharf. Those of  Eva Mae Silva, Mary (Hopwood) Jason, Beatrice (Palheiro) Cabral, and Frances (Perry) Raymond were installed in 2015. Almeda Segura returned to her place at the end of the pier shed in 2016.

Cabral and Leahy earned critical praise in 2019 when they played another couple — Mattie Fae and Charlie Aiken — in the Provincetown Theater production of Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County, directed by David Drake. They “stealthily mine all the comedy and pathos that their roles can offer,” Howard Karren wrote in The Banner, while Steve Desroches credited them in Provincetown Magazine with “giving their complex characters grit and vulnerability, and providing both comic relief and the pull of magnetic north with pain of shame and secrets they harbor.”

The crowning cupola that has long fixed the house in the popular imagination was put to a new use in 2020. Cabral and Leahy banged pots and pans up there each Sunday, to show their support for the front-line defenders in the fight against the coronavirus.

Commercial 160 2019The house in 2019, by David W. Dunlap.

¶ Last updated on 26 June 2020.

160 Commercial Street on the Town Map.

Also at 160 Commercial Street:

Mandy’s Cottage


Thumbnail image: Photo, 2011, by David W. Dunlap.

Amy Whorf McGuiggan wrote on 17 February 2014: My whaling research has uncovered a few more details about this magnificent house. It was built by Captain Joseph Atkins (1766-1851), who built Central Wharf opposite the house c. 1839. The house passed to Joseph’s son, William A. Atkins (1818-1897) who, indeed, made his fortune in whaling as a principal in the Central Wharf Company. William A. Atkins married (for the second time) to Jane Freeman Grozier (1819-1886). Her brother, Captain Joshua Freeman Grozier (1825-1883), was the father of Edwin Atkins Grozier, owner of The Boston Post who, interestingly, was born at sea in 1859 aboard his father’s clipper ship.

Richard Barclay wrote on 11 May 2015: We had a lot of good times. I think of the Cabral sisters. The rock we listened to was fresh.

Bob Doherty wrote on 1 November 2019: April was always a sweetheart to me and my husband. We will always remember her and her true kindness. The Cabral family is the fabric of Ptown. We are so happy to have known Reggie and his daughters. Much love always and forever for your contribution to our wonderful town and home.

For further research online:

• Abigail N. (Freeman) Atkins (1820-1842)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 51088471.

• Jane F. (Grozier) Atkins (1819-1886)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 51088503.

• Capt. Joseph Atkins (1766-1851)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 51088536.

• Ruth (Nickerson) Atkins (1771-1854)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 51088695.

• William A. Atkins (1818-1897)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 51088711.

• Meara (McKie) Cabral (1926-1996)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 107021044.

• Reginald Warren Cabral (1923-1996)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 51635551.

• September Amanda Cabral (1962-1984)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 106334430.

• Alice (Goodell) Grozier (1864-1943)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 50818510.

• Edwin Atkins Grozier (1859-1924)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 50818504.

• Margaret (Murphy) Grozier (1899-1933)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 50818529.

• Richard Grozier (1887-1946)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 50818521.

¹ Looking Back, by Clive Driver, Provincetown: Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association, 2004, Pages 85-86. (Originally published as “Leaves From a Scrapbook” in The Provincetown Banner, 15 August 1996.)

² The Wreck of the “Somerset,” by Edwin A. Grozier, Provincetown: Press of the Provincetown Advocate, 1886. In the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum Collection on the Provincetown History Preservation Project website, Page 5333.

³ “Edwin A. Grozier and The Boston Post,” by Laurel Guadazno, The Provincetown Banner, 6 January 2000; and “He Is the Man That Put Over The Post,” by G. S. MacFarland, Hearst’s Magazine, Volume XXV (January-June 1914), Pages 670-671; and “Edwin Grozier Understudied Pulitzer to Found Great Daily of New England,” by Gustavus Swift Paine, The Provincetown Advocate, 27 April 1950.

⁴ “Provincetown and The Boston Post Canes,” by Amy Whorf McGuiggan, Vita Brevis, 6 December 2019.

⁵ “A True Son of Provincetown Awarded Boston Post Cane,” by K. C. Myers, The Provincetown Banner/Wicked Local, 1 November 2018; and “Miriam Stubbs Takes the Cane as Provincetown’s Eldest Voter,” by Katy Ward, The Provincetown Banner/Wicked Local, 25 April 2019; and Council on Aging, Minutes, 12 February 2004; and “Frances Raymond,” The Cape Cod Times via legacy.com, 16 June 2009.

⁶ “Lina Berry, 99, Tapped for Boston Post Cane Award in Provincetown,” by Katy Ward, The Provincetown Banner/Wicked Local, 21 January 2016; and “Gladys Johnstone Takes the Cane,” The Provincetown Banner/Wicked Local, 20 June 2019.

⁷ “Grozier Home, 160 Commercial Street, Provincetown, circa 1924,” posted by Salvador R. Vasques, My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection (Facebook), 10 August 2018.

⁸ “Meara Cabral, 70,” by Marilyn Miller, The Provincetown Advocate, 21 November 1996, Page 9. From a compilation of obituaries by Dan Towler on the Provincetown History Preservation Project website, Page 5840.

⁹ The Gay Insider / USA, by John Francis Hunter, New York: Stonehill Publishing Company, p. 397.

¹⁰ Ptown: Art, Sex, and Money on the Outer Cape, by Peter Manso, New York: Scribner, 2002, p. 92.

¹¹ “Reggie Cabral, Local Legend, Dies at 72,” by Timothy Burton, The Provincetown Banner, 22 August 1996, p. 1. From a compilation of obituaries by Dan Towler on the Provincetown History Preservation Project website, Page 5840.

¹² “Ownership Dispute Resolved, Cabral Property Undergoing Renovation,” by Steve Desroches, The Cape Codder/Wicked Local, 5 July 2007.

¹³ “House Full of History Comes Back to Life,” by Pru Sowers, The Provincetown Banner, 14 June 2007.

¹⁴ Andy Towle email to the author, 26 June 2020.

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