Brasswood Inn | Former White Wind Inn.

Rising on a high foundation from a lawn bounded by an old and beautiful wall made of ballast stones, this splendid Second Empire-style building — a rival for its nearby neighbor at 164 Commercial Street — looks like what we’d think of as a captain’s house. The fact is, however, that it belonged to Isaac Collins (1823-1889), whose trade was just as vital to Provincetown’s marine industry. Collins was a ship’s carpenter and a spar maker; that is, he made the masts and yards on which sails were hoisted in a nearby shop at the Central Wharf. More recent generations will remember 174 Commercial under the ownership of Joseph T. “Joe the Barber” Ferreira (1904-1997). With his wife, Elsie T. Perry (Ponte) Ferreira (1906-1998), Joe was the proprietor of the Mayflower Barber Shop and the Casa Vistosa guest house, as the Brasswood used to be called. As the White Wind, it was owned from 1973 to 1998 by Sandra Rich, among the pioneering women innkeepers who “filled their rooms with lesbians from all walks of life,” as Karen Christel Krahulik wrote in Provincetown: From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort.

Today, it is owned by Brian W. Calhoon; his husband, Thomas C. Westmoreland; and Scott W. “Scooter” Differ of Boston. Together with Kara Blue, they have continued to run the 12-room guest house, where “all are welcome,” on a year-round basis. At this writing, the former White Wind enjoyed a rating of 5.0, or “excellent,” on Tripadvisor.

In 2020, the White Wind Inn came under the ownership and management of (from left) Brian W. Calhoon; his husband, Thomas C. Westmoreland; Scott W. “Scooter” Differ; and Kara Blue. Robert Torres took the photograph on the inn’s prominent front porch. They renamed the inn Brasswood in January 2021.

The inn in 2011. Photo by David W. Dunlap.

For the moment, its provenance remains something of a mystery, or at least a hard-to-finish puzzle. That’s true of any building constructed before 1877, when the municipal records went up in smoke, as did the rest of the old Town Hall on High Pole Hill, where the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum now stands.

“Circa 1845,” the white-on-blue plaque says. Certainly, a structure stood by 1858 at Commercial and Leverett Streets, as Winthrop was once known, under the ownership of “A. Nickerson.” This was probably Allen Nickerson, who appears in the 1860 census in a household with 26-year-old Matilda Nickerson. Presumably, she was one and the same as Matilda H. Collins (1834-1901), Isaac’s wife. The 1870 census shows Allen, Isaac, and Matilda living together, with eight other people. Unfortunately, street addresses were not given in early enumerations.

An 1876 deed recorded the transfer of 174 Commercial to Isaac Collins. It wasn’t deeded by Allen Nickerson, however. Instead, the grantors were Lewis Lombard (1827-1905) and Mehitable A. (Stevens) Lombard (1830-1912). I’m not sure how the property was transferred from the Nickersons to the Lombards, or if it was.

What’s certain is that the property remained in the hands of the Collins family until 1900. Isaac Collins began as a shipwright and spar maker in Truro. He was remembered there for building the tallest “liberty pole” in town shortly after the Civil War began in 1861, to symbolize the people’s resolve to defend the union. He moved to Provincetown in 1864. Three years later, he associated himself with the partnership of Richard E. Nickerson, Atkins Nickerson, Nathan Young, and Abner B. Rich at the Central Wharf. An advertisement placed by the firm in the Barnstable Patriot of 12 February 1867 noted: “The carpenter work will be under the supervision of Mr. Isaac Collins, a practical workman, who will pay particular attention to the making of spars, an assortment of which will constantly be kept on hand.”

The home of Isaac and Matilda Collins is in the dead center of this photo, c1899. (The ballast stone embankment wall does not appear to have been constructed yet.) This is a detail from a broader view of Dyer’s Wharf and the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, posted by Salvador R. Vasques in his My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection on Facebook, 28 March 2019.

Isaac Collins, who lived here, placed this advertisement in the 1885 guide and directory, Chequocket; or, Coatuit; The Aboriginal Name of Provincetown. From the MacMillan Collection on the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 364.

The schooner Isaac Collins, shown beached, was presumably named for the son of the ship carpenter and spar maker Isaac Collins. The photo is by Nickerson & Smith, Rosenthal. It comes from the glass plate negative collection of Paul Koch. On the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 1279.

In 1874, Matilda and Isaac had a boy whom they named Isaac Stevens Collins. (His middle name was also spelled Stephens.) I presume young Isaac was the namesake of the schooner Isaac Collins, renowned in the 1890s among the fresh-fish highliners that sailed out to the Western Banks off Nova Scotia, about 500 miles distant.

Collins died in 1889. His widow moved to Somerville, where she died in 1901, not long after their son sold 174 Commercial to Estella H. Lombard of Fargo, N.D., for $2,500. Arthur C. Lombard was listed as the resident here in the 1901 directory. Estella and her husband transferred title in 1905 to Johanna Campbell, who sold it to Joseph Steele in 1916.

The summer of 1915 saw the arrival of two consequential first-time visitors: the writer Harriet Lester (Avery) Gaul (1886-1972) and her husband, the musician Harvey Bartlett Gaul (1881-1945). They would have been accompanied by their infant daughter, Ione Avery (Gaul) Walker (1914-1987), who would become — in turn — the mother of the modern-day gallerist Berta Walker. “Under the name Avery Gaul, Harriet wrote Five Nights at the Five Pines, a Provincetown ghost story based on one of the great West End rooming houses,” Walker told me. “I think it could have been 174 as I recall a later conversation of their sitting on those steps!”

From Joseph Steele, the property passed to Harry F. McDonald in 1926. Gladys M. Smith was a tenant, running the Wilfred Beauty Studio from 1929 to 1931 — “specializing in latest styles of hairdressing, bobbing, and all branches of beauty culture,” as her ads in the Advocate promised.

Left: Ad from the Advocate of 12 February 1931. Right: Ad from the Advocate of 7 November 1946. Advocate Online, Provincetown Public Library.

Clara Louise (Smith) Watson (1863-1951), a longtime teacher in the Eastham and Provincetown schools, purchased the property in 1931. That was shortly before the death of her husband, Eugene W. Watson (1850-1932), a Mayflower descendant who worked many years for Swift & Company meat packers. Clara had a high civic profile, as a member of Provincetown’s School Committee, the Provincetown Art Association, the Research Club, the Nautilus Club, the Center Methodist Church, and the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic group.

Under the family’s ownership, 174 Commercial Street was known as the Watson Apartments. An ad placed in the Advocate in 1938 by the Watsons’ son, Horace Smith Watson (1891-1968), offered this description:

“Heated apartments, electric kitchens, house service, continuous hot water. Furnished or unfurnished as the tenant prefers. Closed garage space available.”

Horace’s sister, Lucille (Watson) Peale (1905-1985), was married to the brother of the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, a prominent American clergyman and the author of the best-selling Power of Positive Thinking (1952). Among other tenants of the Watson Apartments, in 1937 and 1938, was Dr. William J. Leonard, who had his medical practice here. The Watsons turned the property over to the Seamen’s Savings Bank in 1941, in what I assume to have been a foreclosure of some kind.

Left: Joseph T. “Joe the Barber” Ferreira. Banner file photo from his obituary, 3 April 1997. Right: Kodacolor print made in 1949. Courtesy of Brian W. Calhoon.

A golden era in the property’s history began in 1942, when it was acquired from the bank by Elsie and “Joe the Barber” Ferreira. His business was formally known as the Mayflower Barber Shop, but everyone referred to it by his name. As in any small town, barber shops and beauty salons were hubs of community life, and Ferreira’s was among the most beloved — never mind that he would tell you to get the hell out if he took a scunner to you, or if he was too busy. “It’s a good place to loaf, and a good place to talk about people,” Ferreira said.

Ferreira was born on São Miguel in the Azores (though he would also say he was born in New Bedford). His father was a barber. Joe and his brother, Veriato, left the Western Islands for good when Joe was 16, according to a lovely account by Jan Kelly in the Provincetown Magazine of 4 June 1998. They went to New Bedford, where the Ferreira family had once briefly lived. The days were not easy, working at a cotton mill for $13 a week. That would be about $9,000 a year in today’s dollars. But evenings were a revelation. Ferreira was taken under the wing of a barber named John Mello, and worked at Mello’s shop from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., adding another $7 a week to his income. The young man discovered that he loved barbering and bantering, perhaps not necessarily in that order.

His other love was Elsie Ponte, whom he married in 1927. The couple moved to Provincetown in 1934 and Ferreira went to work for Johnny Lambrou in his shop at 379 Commercial Street. He opened his own business adjacent to the Cape Cod Garage building at 221-223 Commercial Street, until he was displaced. That was when he and Elsie bought No. 174. “They called me a sucker for buying that house,” he told Kelly. “Nobody wanted it, and I was broke.”

Kodacolor print made in 1953. Courtesy of Brian W. Calhoon.

The Mayflower shop was in the main building at No. 174 from 1946 until 1950, when Ferreira built a freestanding shop at 1 Winthrop Street, where you will still see a barber pole standing in the front yard. It was originally a one-story building, Steven Roderick told me in 2020. The second story was added subsequently, by Christopher Mathieson.

[Mathieson has owned 1 Winthrop since 2014. “I converted the space to residential,” he told me in 2020, in a comment below. “Joe’s barber-shop pole is still intact and will remain so under my ownership. … Anne Howard from the Building Department told me the structure of 1 Winthrop Street was allowed to be built so close to the street because the Town was trying to get Joe out of his main house while cutting hair. … When I renovated the building in 2014 I hired Royal Barry Wills Associates to do the work. It is the only house in Provincetown by that firm and the last project done by the firm (1925-2015).]

Ferreira astonished the town in the summer of 1952 when he broke one of the most deeply-rooted discriminatory barriers in barbering. He hired Joye J. Montgomery, 23, of Peoria, Ill., as a summer barber. She had graduated from the Peoria Barber College, founded in 1897, and was financing her studies at Florida State University, Tallahassee. Not surprisingly — since it’s a trade that seems to run in families — Montgomery’s father and brother were also barbers. One of her first customers, Freddy Blakeman of North Truro, was so amazed that he reported his haircut immediately to the Advocate, which picked up the story, describing Montgomery as the first “lady barber” in town history.

The Ferreiras placed the main building and a secondary property at 3 Winthrop Street on the market in 1955. “11 rooms and 6 baths,” the ad said. “Ideal for nursing or rest home.” Nothing apparently came of this. In 1955, a haircut at Joe’s cost five bits, $1.25. Ferreira typically spent about 15 minutes on each cut. He was joined in 1956 by Anthony E. Souza, another tonsorial veteran, whose shop was at 291 Commercial Street. Three years later, Souza opened a branch of the Mayflower Barber Shop at Lopes Square.

Left: Ad from the Long Pointer of 1955, in the School Collection of the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5542. Right: Ad from the Advocate of 16 June 1955. Advocate Online, Provincetown Public Library.

At a 1961 convention in New Bedford, Ferreira heard District Attorney Edmund Dinis of Bristol County urge barbers to refuse to give ducktail haircuts “because it is closely identified with the ‘black leather jacket crowd’ and with the spirit of rebellion.” He also asked barbers “to dispose of ‘girly’ magazine and calendars in their shops.” (Dinis, who also came from São Miguel, is better remembered for his hesitant prosecution of Senator Edward M. Kennedy after the accidental drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969.)

The Advocate didn’t record Ferreira’s ducktail policy, but it seems that his magazine policy remained liberal. “Loved reading the crime magazines while waiting,” Mel Joseph recalled in a Facebook post on 13 October 2020. “A young boy flipping the pages, looking for the provocative ads with sexy women. … Joe had a special collection in the lower right-hand drawer at his work station.”

Many years later, shortly before Ferreira’s 83rd birthday, he lamented to Kelly, “I work too cheap.”

“I get $5 a haircut; it should be $7 or $8. I have people come from Boston and Connecticut because it’s cheap. This place is always crowded. I work from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., 10 hours a day, with a half hour for lunch. After Labor Day, I close on Mondays. I’ll work until I drop dead.”

Somehow, Ferreira found time to be a good citizen, too. With Frank Henderson, Clarence J. Kacergis, Joseph Lema, Francis “Flyer” Santos, and Francis J. Steele, Ferreira was a member of the Town Manager Committee of selectmen who initiated Provincetown’s current form of government in 1954.

And in 1956, he built the Dairy Queen at 175 Bradford Street Extension. The strain of three jobs finally took their toll in 1958, when Ferreira submitted his resignation from the Board of Selectmen, even though his term ran another two years.

Elsie was also busy, managing the guest house in the main building. It was called Casa Vistosa. Kelly translated that as “house with a view,” but the Cambridge Dictionary would translate it as a “showy house” or “eye-catching house.” In a home behind the Casa Vistosa and the Mayflower, the couple raised their sons Maurice T. Ferreira, who was graduated in 1947 from Provincetown High School, and James M. Ferreira, P.H.S. Class of 1955.

Left: Maurice T. Ferreira’s senior portrait from the 1947 Long Pointer, in the School Collection of the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5559. Right: James Michael Ferreira’s senior portrait from the 1955 Long Pointer, in the School Collection of the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5542.

The Ferreiras sold the Casa Vistosa in 1960 to Donald L. Perry and Jack Gorman Van Deventer, who lived together in Greenwich Village. They sold it in turn four years later to Robert A. Browning and Joseph W. Neureuter of Southbury, Conn. I’m not sure under whose ownership the name was changed, but the property was definitely known as the White Wind by November 1964, when it was referred to as such in the Advocate. (The family didn’t sell 1 Winthrop Street until 1999.)

Like Perry and Van Deventer, Browning and Neureuter held on to the property for only four years, selling in 1968 to Richard A. Tonne IV and Richard P. White.

Richard White and Joel Tendler of the Sunset Inn, 142 Bradford Street, were “major players in the development of Provincetown as a major gay tourist resort,” Leonard Paoletti, a retired innkeeper and repository of gay history, told me in 2014. White “owned the White Wind with a partner. They subsequently sold it to Sandra Rich, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale. After that Richard and another lover, Kevin [Monahan], bought the Tradewinds, which is now known as the Carpe Diem. During the ’90s, while Kevin ran the Tradewinds, Richard was the manager of Tea Dance at the Boatslip. He was very close with the four partners of the Boatslip: Chick Chamberland, Alan Mundy, Peter Ryder, and Chuck Mehr (who owned the Sandpiper), as well as other innkeepers such as Jon Gerrity, of the Somerset House.”

The inn and the gazebo in 2008. Dunlap.

The emblem of the White Wind Inn in 2011. Dunlap.

2008. Dunlap.

2008. Dunlap.

Left: The painter Peg Reynolds touched up the White Wind sign in 2019. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s Facebook page, 9 May 2019. Right: Michael A. Valenti Jr. prepares a rooftop display of the flag. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s Facebook page, 29 June 2018.

Posted on the White Wind Inn’s Facebook page, 11 December 2019.

Photo by Robert Torres, from the White Wind Inn website.

2008. Dunlap.

2011. Dunlap.

The sale to Sandra Rich occurred in 1973. She bought the property with Gary Gion and Anne Kinsella. They paid $83,500 for it, or about $500,000 in today’s dollars.

Rich was the proprietor of the White Wind Inn for the next quarter-century. She was an early member of the Provincetown Business Guild, and is listed in the typewritten membership roster of 8 March 1979. In Provincetown: From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort (2005), Krahulik, now a senior associate dean at Princeton University, included Rich among the women innkeepers who — by welcoming lesbians as guests in the early 1980s — helped expand Provincetown’s visiting population beyond gay men. Others were Betty Adams of the Windamar House, 566-568 Commercial Street; Diane Baines and Dottie McKay of the Check’er Inn, 25 Winthrop Street; Angela Calomiris of Angels’ Landing, 353 Commercial Street; Diane J. Corbo of the Ravenwood, 462 Commercial Street; Jackie Kelly and Karen Harding of the Greenhouse, 18 Pearl Street; Carole A. Whitman of the Dusty Miller Inn, 82 Bradford Street; and Michael Wright of Plums Bed & Breakfast Inn, 160 Bradford Street.

Ad from the 1976 Guide to Provincetown, published by the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce.

The logo in 2013.

Corbo, Krahulik wrote, “reminisced about being ‘in awe’ of the older lesbians that she met at the Ace of Spades,” including Rich. Linda Tarlton and Russel Dusablon were also involved in the management of the White Wind during the Rich years.

A 1985 rate sheet, from the inn’s records, quoted nightly prices of $48 to $70 in the summer season ($117 to $171 today) for double rooms with private bathrooms, “most with water views, color television, and small refrigerators for that chilled bottle of wine.” On the other hand, “snug” single rooms without their own bathrooms could be had for as little as $20 a night ($49) in the off-season.

Left: Robert P. Tosner and Michael A. Valenti Jr. on the day they bought the White Wind Inn in 1998. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 24 April 2020. Right: On the day they sold the inn in 2020. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 24 April 2020.

Robert P. Tosner and Michael A. Valenti Jr. approached Rich in 1997 about the possibility of buying the inn, but she was not yet ready to sell. “Disappointed, we then looked at several other properties and made offers on them, but none of them worked out,” Tosner told me in 2020. “Also, none had the appeal of the White Wind with its majestic presence along Commercial Street. We loved the great front porch and the architecture, and we saw an opportunity to enhance it but not lose its charm.” They paid $1.05 million for the property, contents, and goodwill. Tosner believes it might have been the first guest in Provincetown to sell for more than $1 million.

“We happened to be up for New Year’s 1998 and heard through the Provincetown grapevine that the owner was serious about selling this time, so we went up and met with her on the front porch to discuss a potential sale. During the period between the agreement and closing, the great Commercial Street fire occurred [at Whaler’s Wharf and the Crown & Anchor]. We were getting reports during the fire from friends here and, like everyone else, we were concerned about all the properties along Commercial Street, especially our future home. Fortunately all worked out and we moved to town April 13th.”

“We loved that the property retained a lot of the original features such as woodwork, high ceilings, and nicely sized, unique rooms. We loved the overall grand feel. All of the bathrooms were in need of updating, which we did over the years. We did a renovation in 2000 with the addition and re-configuration of the kitchen and living space to create a large common area which the inn was lacking. We needed space for a grand piano and wanted to create a gathering space for our guests to enjoy. The new living room was the single best change to the property. It has it enabled us to host many great parties, special functions, and cabaret performances on occasion.”

“Under our tenure, the White Wind Inn was operated more like traditional Provincetown guest houses of yesteryear. Of course, we kept up with the changing requirements for air-conditioning, nicer bathrooms, and other amenities, but the feel of the inn was definitely more like being at a friend’s house than at a hotel. We had many repeat guest that stayed and many life-long friendships were forged. The inn often had a celebratory feel to it as we hosted complimentary bi-weekly cocktail parties for guests and our friends. The front porch, the best on Commercial, was the epicenter of many happy gatherings (sometimes raucous), legendary Carnival celebrations, and the now famous Pink Party which was started by our guests.”

That grand piano was specially handy in August 2004, when Bea Arthur and her pianist rehearsed in the White Wind living room. The star of Maude and Golden Girls was here for a sold-out performance at Town Hall. “Not that anyone bothered Arthur as she ran through her show in the afternoon, with tourists, guests, and others walking around the inn’s first floor,” Carol Beggy and Mark Shanahan wrote in The Boston Globe “Names” column. “Then again, it’s Provincetown. It takes more than a ’70s TV icon to frazzle the locals.”

Other V.I.P.s at the White Wind Inn have included the Tony-winning actor Brian Dennehy, when he was in town as the guest of honor at the 2016 Tennessee Williams Annual Dinner, and the jazz and cabaret singer Marilyn Maye, who has been seen — and heard — on a number of occasions at the inn, including a 2020 performance from the porch (out of deference to the coronavirus), accompanied by Brian Calhoon on the marimba.

Under Tosner and Valenti, the White Wind frequently turned itself out for town celebrations like Carnival, Halloween, and the Fourth of July. It also invented an event of its own: the annual Pink Party, which began in 2007.

The jazz and cabaret singer Marilyn Maye performed an outdoor concert in 2020 from the White Wind porch. “I can’t believe this is my life,” said Brian Calhoon, who accompanied her on marimba. Posted on Marimba Cabaret’s Facebook page, 9 September 2020. Photo by Katy Giorgio.

Brian Dennehy, winner of a 2003 Tony for his performance in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, at the White Wind in 2016, with Valenti and Tosner. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 4 June 2016.

After a common room was created on the first floor, the White Wind could hold cabaret performances. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 4 June 2016.

Miss Richfield 1981 was one of the Pac-Man ghosts as the White Wind prepared for “Back to the ’80s,” the theme of Carnival 2016. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 15 August 2016.

“Space Odyssey” was the theme of Carnival 2012, and the White Wind was ready. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 13 August 2012.

Left: Holly Folly, 2016. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 2 December 2016. Right: “Viva Las Vegas” was the theme of Carnival 2013. Miss Richfield obliged. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 21 August 2013.

Christmas, 2011. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 4 December 2011.

Vines clung to Tosner during Carnival 2019, “Enchanted Forest.” Valenti was less overgrown. Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 23 August 2019.

Raymond J. “Ray” Sparks, in the black T-shirt, and William Ray “Bill” Ingraham always had a claim on front-row seats, as they did in 2002. Their headgear honored the Carnival theme, “Around the World in Seven Days.” Posted on the White Wind Inn’s website, 3 February 2013.

Raymond J. “Ray” Sparks (1932-2013), the former co-proprietor of the White Dory Inn with his husband, William Ray “Bill” Ingraham (1927-2008), served as the breakfast helper at the White Wind in the early days of the Tosner-Valenti tenure. Ray and Bill, who had been together since 1957, subsequently enjoyed reserved seating on the porch for parade days.

“We are happy to see that the new owners have embraced the space as well,” Tosner concluded. At this writing, he is a sales associate at Harborside Realty, 154 Commercial Street. “Even under the difficulty of the pandemic, they’ve been able to use the porch to share music with their guests and the community. After 22 years it was time to pass the torch and we are excited that the new owners appreciate the inn’s history.”

Dan McKeon portfolio: Pink Party 2019

Gregg Moore and Rob Tosner. Posted on Rob Tosner’s Facebook page, 3 September 2019. Photo by Dan McKeon.

Left: Michael Zeppieri and Marilyn Maye. Posted on Rob Tosner’s Facebook page, 3 September 2019. Right: Stephan Perhacs. Posted on Rob Tosner’s Facebook page, 3 September 2019. Photos by Dan McKeon.

Posted on Rob Tosner’s Facebook page, 3 September 2019. Photo by Dan McKeon.

The new owners bought the property on 13 April 2020 for $2.44 million, exactly 22 years after Tosner and Valenti purchased it.

Brian Calhoon, a California native, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music (classical percussion performance) from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where he worked for 11 years in recruitment and admissions, which he directed for a time. He plays marimba. His husband, Tom Westmoreland, a native Virginian, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from James Madison University and Boston University. He was a high school band director in Lynnfield and Somerville (where Matilda Collins lived in the last years of her life). He plays trumpet. Westmoreland and Calhoon were married in 2019.

Scooter Differ, from Massachusetts, spent more than 25 years working at the Wilson Farm grocery store and market in Lexington, and has experience as a baker and caterer. Kara Blue, who grew up in Florida and attended Northeastern University, works part-time in Boston. “We are the innkeepers, housekeeping staff, owners, cooks, guest relations, plumbers, etc.,” Calhoon said. The team is rounded out by Jack the cat and Freemont the dog.

The Blue Room on the first floor took its name from the blue in the stained-glass panel. From the White Wind Inn website. (Renamed the Holiday Room in 2021, after Billie Holiday.)

The Admirals Room on the first floor has a working fireplace. Photo by Robert Torres, from the White Wind Inn website. (Renamed the Ellington Room in 2021, after Edward “Duke” Ellington.)

The Bonaventure Room on the second floor has a queen bed and a sleeping loft. Its unusual name honors Rob Tosner’s brother, Frank C. Tosner Jr. (1951-1994), who introduced Rob to Provincetown. As a member of the Brothers of the Good Shepherd, Frank was known as Brother Bonaventure. Photo by Robert Torres, from the White Wind Inn website. (Renamed the Armstrong Room in 2021, after Louis Armstrong.)

The Captains Room on the second floor has a large fireplace and a view of the Anchor Inn Beach House. Photo by Robert Torres, from the White Wind Inn website. (Renamed the Sondheim Room in 2021, after Stephen Sondheim.)

The Bounty Room on the second floor has a balcony. From the White Wind Inn website. (Renamed the King Room in 2021, after Carole King.)

The idea of buying a guest house came to Westmoreland during the couple’s mini-honeymoon in Provincetown in 2019, Calhoon said.

“We have visited and summered here every year we have been together and were ready for our next big step together. After over a decade in academia each, we were ready for our next big adventure and to roll up our sleeves and dig into a new industry and a new way of life.”

“Tom started researching running a bed-and-breakfast and looking into property that was on the market. Funny enough, the White Wind Inn was the first listing we looked at online. We ended up looking at eight or so inns that were for sale, and circled back to the White Wind for several reasons. First, its location is obviously prime, and that front porch is worth the price of admission. Further, the indoor common room provided space for eventual house concerts (and where my 5-octave marimba currently resides, where Michael Valenti’s baby grand piano used to live). The 12 rooms made for a perfect size and its location in a commercial zone provides ample opportunity for community engagement and music events in the future.”

“Fast forward to April 2020, we closed on the sale (a very unusual process, mostly e-signatures and socially distant meetings with our lawyer and bankers in their respective parking lots). We moved in during a most uncertain time; we didn’t know when we would be permitted to open, and guests were cancelling their reservations left and right. Fast forward to now [27 September 2020], it’s been surprisingly and delightfully fruitful. Once mid-July rolled around, more and more travelers seemed more comfortable traveling and we were full through Labor Day.”

“Since we are new to innkeeping, nothing about this summer seemed unusual — everything was new to us. We didn’t have set procedures that needed to change, so in some ways it was a perfect way to start our career, by learning how to operate during a pandemic. Future seasons, we expect to be able to relax certain protocols, but the lessons learned will last us for years to come.”

“I also began putting on what were originally casual, impromptu concerts by rolling my marimba onto the front porch and performing music for the passersby. It was a lovely surprise and seemed to provide a mutual benefit: giving me and other local musicians opportunities to perform (safely) for live audiences, and to give the town the opportunity to hear live music for free, simply by walking down the street. Once things return to normal (and we get the proper entertainment permits to do so), we expect to continue this musical offering.”

“The biggest surprise perhaps has been how supportive the community is,” Calhoon concluded. “Our neighbor businesses and fellow innkeepers are eager to share advice and enthusiastically welcomed us to the community. It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, but we’re still smiling.”

Preparing to enter their second season, the owners changed the name of the establishment in January 2021 to the Brasswood Inn. “The term ‘Brasswood’ is a musical reference drawing inspiration from the materials used to create Tom’s and Brian’s primary instruments: the trumpet (brass) and the marimba (wood), respectively,” they explained on the new website, brasswoodptown.com. “Music plays such an important role in our lives that we wanted to reflect that in our new brand. In addition to renaming the inn, each room is now named after an influential American composer, songwriter and/or performer who has had a profound impact on us as individuals and has contributed significantly to the identity of American music.”

Landing page of the Brasswood Inn website in 2021.

Landing page of the predecessor White Wind Inn website in 2020.

¶ Last updated on 15 January 2021.

Richard White wrote on 10 March 2014: I and Richard Tonne owned this from 1967 to 1971. We sold to Miss Rich, who added to the little round building.

James Campbell wrote on 16 December 2015: Our family ancestor, Dr. Clarence Roberts Campbell, lived in this house until is death on June 19, 1910 at the age of 28 years, 4 months, and 5 days. He went to Johns Hopkins and had a medical practice in Provincetown on this very site. He was born to James Campbell and Johanna McKey Campbell of 304 Commercial Street. His brother, Matthew Philip Campbell, was also a doctor, educated in Baltimore and he lived and practiced in this house as well until his death on June 19, 1913 at 37 years, 1 month, and 30 days. These brothers were the first two full time Doctors in Provincetown.

174 Commercial Street on the Town Map.

Also at 174 Commercial Street:

Reynolds Gallery (White Wind Inn gazebo).

Ballast stone wall.

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

In memoriam:

• Isaac Collins (1823-1889)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 143815930, Truro.

• Elsie T. Perry (Ponte) Ferreira (1906-1998)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 53835095.

• Joseph T. “Joe the Barber” Ferreira (1904-1997)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 53835414.

• Lewis Lombard (1827-1905)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 140647633.

• Mehitable A. (Stevens) Lombard (1830-1912)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 140649660.

• Raymond J. “Ray” Sparks (1932-2013)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 105346388.

• Clara Louise (Smith) Watson (1863-1951)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 137558144.

• Eugene W. Watson (1850-1932)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 137557856.

• Horace Smith Watson (1891-1968)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 137558299.

One thought on “174 Commercial Street

  1. Great article! I am the owner of 1 Winthrop Street since 2014. I converted the space to residential. Joe’s barber-shop pole is still intact and will remain so under my ownership.

    The ballast stone wall from 174 Commercial Street extends to my property. There have been some modifications over the years and I’m planning on doing a historical refurbishment on the wall this spring.

    Anne Howard from the Building Department told me the structure of 1 Winthrop Street was allowed to be built so close to the street because the Town was trying to get Joe out of his main house while cutting hair. I have seen some photos of the modest one-story structure that was built by him.

    When I renovated the building in 2014 I hired Royal Barry Wills Associates to do the work. It is the only house in Provincetown by that firm and the last project done by the firm (1925-2015).

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