Snug does not mean tight-fitting, at least not here. This sprawling 4,528-square-foot structure — once known as Twin Gates — has been enlarged a couple of times since its construction in the early 19th century. James F. Mack, the former innkeeper who gave the eight-room guest house its current name in 2000, defined “snug” as “warm, secure shelter marked by cordiality and an opportunity for ease and contentment.” Sylvia Tarvers Weston, whose family owned 178 Bradford from 1945 to 1971, used different words to say the same thing: “Wonderful house to have grown up with three other siblings.”
Her parents, Police Chief Anthony Philip Tarvers (1905-1974) and his wife, Mary Elizabeth “Molly” (Silva) Tarvers, purchased the property in August 1945, just two months before he stepped down as head as the Provincetown Police Department. Tarvers had been appointed chief by the Board of Selectmen in 1938, at the age of 32, with outstanding credentials as an officer in the Barnstable Police Department and as a former trooper with the Massachusetts State Police who had occasionally been assigned to Gov. Charles F. Hurley’s detail.¹
The Tarvers family in 1950. Back row: Bruce Tracy Tarvers and his brother, Anthony Philip Tarvers Jr. Front row: Sylvia Jane Tarvers and her father, Anthony Philip Tarvers; her mother, Mary Elizabeth “Molly” (Silva) Tarvers; and her sister, Cynthia Rose Tarvers. Courtesy of Sylvia Tarvers Weston.
Chief Tarvers was well remembered in town for having personally talked down the first man ever to attempt suicide at the Pilgrim Monument. It was August 1941. The man, Frank, a 34-year-old visitor from Manhattan, had been arrested the night before and charged with being drunk and possessing obscene pictures. (We can only imagine of whom.) After waiting for the monument to close the next day, Frank climbed over a protective grille along the parapet, and perched in a crenellation, prepared to leap to his death. Alarmed eyewitnesses alerted the police, and Chief Tarvers bounded up to the top of the tower.
For the next 15 minutes, Chief Tarvers entreated the young man not to jump. His most persuasive argument, may have been to remind Frank that his religion (presumably Roman Catholic) forbade suicide. In any case, Frank allowed the chief and the monument’s custodian, Benjamin Baker, to help him climb back over the grille to safety. Baker told the The Advocate that Frank’s attempt was the first in the monument’s 31-year history. The article ended:
“Chief Tarvers also admitted that, though he was born in Provincetown and spent his youth here, he had never before been to the top of the monument.”²
Nineteen Forty-Five was an eventful year, to say the least. Chief Tarvers was honorably discharged from the Coast Guard, in which he’d been serving on leave from the Town as chief boatswain’s mate; he and his wife bought Twin Gates; he bought the Town Taxi business founded by Joseph C. Nunes (also called Noon’s Taxi Service); and resigned as head of the Police Department, telling the selectmen in a brief note that he couldn’t operate taxis and be chief of police.³
Left: “Racial discrimination” was the top pet peeve listed by Sylvia Jane Tarvers as a senior at Provincetown High School, in the 1957 Long Pointer. From the School Collection of the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5544. Right: Cynthia Rose Tarvers in the 1960 Long Pointer, on the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 5553.
Molly and Anthony Tarvers moved into Twin Gates with four young children: Bruce Tracy Tarvers, Anthony Philip Tarvers Jr., Sylvia Jane Tarvers, and Cynthia Rose Tarvers. The year after the family settled in, insurance coverage was cancelled for the famed “accommodation” run by the Paige Brothers and the town was without public transportation. Tarvers and Thomas F. Cote were granted a franchise in 1947 to operate the Provincetown Bus Line in Provincetown and Truro. They started with a school bus. Their terminal was the former New Haven line railroad passenger depot at 132 Bradford Street. Tarvers also served as an investigator for the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and worked for the Nickerson Funeral Home, 14 Center Street.⁴
“When my parents owned the house, mother named it ‘Twin Gates’ because at the time two large wagon wheels were the gates to enter the property from Bradford Street,” Sylvia told me in 2020.
Tarvers Jr., known as Phil, moved to Los Angeles to work for the Fisher Body Division of General Motors. He and his wife, Mary Ann (Hendrick) Tarvers, came back to Provincetown and Twin Gates in 1964 with their four children. The next year, he opened the Twin Gates Realty office. Tarvers also operated a laundromat and restaurant in Hyannis, and a dry-cleaning business in Dennis. His brother, Bruce, became a well-known figure in Truro, where he served for 19 years as a selectman.
Philip Tarvers opened a real estate business at 178 Bradford in 1965. These advertisements ran in The Advocate on 18 March and 16 December.
The Tarvers family sold Twin Gates in 1971 to John C. Venner of Philadelphia. Venner opened the Bradford Gardens Inn, described in a 1975 guide as “offering fireplaced rooms filled with art and antiques” and “serving country breakfasts.”⁵
James F. Logan Jr. bought the property from Venner’s estate in 1977 for $290,005. He sold it in 1985 to Stanley I. Gold and Robert D. Newman, who transferred it simultaneously to Susan J. Davis, who sold it five months later to M. Susan Culligan. With that, the Bradford Gardens Inn earned the distinction of being among the earliest guest houses owned by women in Provincetown.⁶
178 Bradford Street in 2008. Photograph by David W. Dunlap.
Advertisement from the 1978 catalog of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
And it was well regarded. “An authentic rambling New England inn,” Gillian Drake wrote in The Complete Guide to Provincetown.
“The spacious rooms are furnished with antiques, and most have fireplaces. Lovely gardens feature a magnificent flowering cherry tree. Also cottages and two-bedroom townhouses. Full gourmet breakfast, daily maid service, parking, color TV, seasonal.”⁷
Culligan sold the Bradford Gardens Inn in 2000 to James F. Mack and Paul L. Gizara. Mack changed the name of the accommodation to Snug Cottage. As a Unitarian Universalist chaplain, Mack was empowered to officiate at weddings — offering an in-house amenity that not many guest houses could match. His husband, Jon Arterton, was a founder and arranger of the Flirtations, an a cappella group, and founder and director of the Outer Cape Chorale.
James Mack, left, changed the name of the Bradford Gardens Inn to Snug Cottage. His husband, Jon Arterton, is at right. Courtesy of Jon Arterton.
Photo, 2008, by David W. Dunlap.
Photo, 2013, by David W. Dunlap.
Landing page of the Snug Cottage website in 2020.
The couple sold Snug Cottage in 2010 to William Wilkins and Brian Wilkins. They sold it in 2015 to Steven Sean “Tim” Vojtasko of Washington and Charles “Chuck” Loring of Fort Lauderdale. On the Snug Cottage website, Vojtasko described himself as “one of the most eclectic innkeepers in Provincetown,” having worked in higher education, the corporate world, the federal government, international public health, association management, law enforcement, and construction. Vojtasko said that he and Loring, a fraternity brother, purchased Snug Cottage after vacationing in Provincetown for 20 years.
In its most recent configuration, Snug Cottage had eight guest rooms: the Bristol Suite (325 square feet), York Suite (325 square feet), Victoria Suite (310 square feet), Rutland Suite (275 square feet), Windsor (225 square feet), Chartwell (180 square feet), Royal Scot (180 square feet), and Spencer (150 square feet).
Gary Nobel of San Diego purchased Snug Cottage in 2020 for $1,491,000.
¶ Last updated on 13 July 2020.
Sylvia Tarvers Weston wrote on 9 August 2018: Mr. Dunlap, I think you should be given some award for the wonderful job you have done putting Building Provincetown together. It is a blessing for us born and raised in Provincetown. I grew up on Law Street for the first five years and then our family moved to 178 Bradford Street. Wonderful house to have grown up with three other siblings. I’m the last at age 79. I thank you. [The writer now lives in Lake Wylie, S. C.]
178 Bradford Street on the Town Map.
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2008, by David W. Dunlap.
¹ “Police Chief Williams Resigns, Selectmen Appoint Tarvers,” The Provincetown Advocate, 30 June 1938.
² “Police Chief Halts Monument Leap,” The Provincetown Advocate, 14 August 1941.
³ “Matta Refuses Police Chief Post After Tarvers Tenders Resignation,” The Provincetown Advocate, 18 October 1945.
⁴ “Tarvers Stresses Needs of Town,” The Provincetown Advocate, 17 March 1960.
⁵ Provincetown or, Odds and Ends From the Tip End (Facsimile Edition / New Bicentennial Guide), Provincetown: Peaked Hill Press, 1975, Page 214.
⁶ The Courage to Connect: Sexuality, Citizenship, and Community in Provincetown, by Sandra L. Faiman-Silva, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004, Page 118.
⁷ The Complete Guide to Provincetown: Everything You Need to Know About the Town at the Tip of Cape Cod, by Gillian Drake, Provincetown: Shank Painter Publishing, 1992, Page 140.
David, I just finished looking at and reading the 2020 edition of the Tarvers family history. You have done a wonderful job and I could just weep at the memories. Thank you. Sylvia
Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and support. It’s a pleasure delving into the story of a family as distinguished as yours.