2020 Commercial 018


Red House.

A white-on-blue enamel plaque, designed by Claude Jensen, shows a Cape Cod house on a scow on the waves, with the narrow stretch of Long Point and its lighthouse in the distance. That indicates a house — in this case, the bake house — that was floated across the harbor from the antebellum settlement on the point. According to “An Old Settler” who wrote into The Advocate in 1933, it had been the home of Charles Spencer, and was the last house to be ferried across the harbor, around 1865. It was acquired about 30 years later by Martha Dewing Woodward (1856-1950), the mother of the Provincetown art colony, and her lifetime companion, Laura Louise Johnson (b 1869). Their Cape Cod School of Drawing and Painting was evidently quartered in another building on this property, a cottage known as Pungo, 18 Commercial Street. It seems to have gained its distinctive color in the 1930s, when it was acquired as an annex by the Red Inn, across the road at 15 Commercial Street, which used it to house workers and overflow guests.

The property was acquired in 2017 by 18 Commercial Street LLC, an entity whose officers include Michael Lombardo, the former president of programming at HBO on whose watch the network introduced Game of Thrones, Veep, and True Detective; and his husband, Charles L. “Sonny” Ward III, owner and principal in June Street Architecture in West Hollywood. Lombardo and Ward are big-time Democratic fundraisers. It was at a gathering in their home in 2012 that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. started the Obama administration down the road to an embrace of marriage rights for same-sex couples, after meeting the couple’s two young children. “I wish everybody could see this,” the vice president told the group. “All you got to do is look in the eyes of those kids. And no one can wonder, no one can wonder whether or not they are cared for and nurtured and loved and reinforced. And folks, what’s happening is, everybody is beginning to see it.”

“And my job — our job — is to keep this momentum rolling to the inevitable,” Biden said. Less than a month later, President Barack Obama made history by announcing his support for same-sex marriage.

¶ Last updated on 2 May 2018.

Denise Avallon wrote on 29 April 2015: This house also had another name according to The Sandwich Observer, March 7, 1911. “The property known as the Willows, at the west end, and owned by Miss Woodward, has been purchased by Mr. W. E. Cowing.”

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