For some Wellfleet children in the 1800s, this Federal-style building was school. After being floated down to Provincetown, it was purchased in 1896 for $285 by Antone Gaspar, a fisherman from Faial in the Azores. Antone’s son Joseph, born in the house in 1900, replaced a kitchen that had a sand floor with a new one, in knotty pine. Joseph inherited the house on the stipulation that his brother, Manuel, could remain here until he died, which he did — at the kitchen table. Joseph’s son, Warren, also lived here, as did his grandson John Gaspar Jr. The Gaspars sold the property in 1970. The next owners allowed it to deteriorate so far that it was given a cameo role in the 1995 comedy, Lie Down With Dogs, as a scary guest house. It was demolished in 2011 — the photograph here records the event — and replaced with a pretty simulacrum.
¶ Adapted from Building Provincetown (2015).
Jeff Notaro wrote on 24 August 2013: The house was sold to Joseph and Jane Notaro in October 1970 and sold to Victor DePaolo in August 2011. Through a special demolition permit, DePaolo razed the structure and built three condominiums, provided the building looked similar to the original structure.
Richard B. Hall wrote on 4 May 2014: This house, in dreadful shape even in the mid-1970s, is a major loss to the architectural history of Provincetown. The term “similar to the original structure” made me erupt in laughter. In my opinion, the “special permit” demolition of this irreplaceable house has “money passing from one hand to the next” all over it. What a crying shame.
John J. Gaspar Jr. wrote on 9 June 2014: I am the grandson of Joseph Gaspar, the last member of our family to own this house. I lived in this house with him and my grandmother, Elizabeth, during my high school years, graduating in 1969. He absolutely loved this house. It was in near-perfect condition when he sold it. There was a trellis full of roses surrounding the front door. On the back of the house was an outdoor staircase leading up to a screened room that was my summer bedroom. The only “update” my grandfather ever did was a beautiful butterfly knotty-pine kitchen. It’s the room we spent most of our time in. My great uncle Manuel passed away sitting at the table. An artist — I don’t know who — appreciated the architecture so much that he put it on canvas and gave it to my grandparents. It now hangs on my father’s wall in Texas. It will someday hang on my wall. I love you, Grandpa and Grandma. I miss you so much.
Steve Gaspar wrote on 9 June 2014: I remember summers at this, my grandparents’ house. It was used as a boarding house before my time. We (my siblings and I) would spend summer vacations at 170 Bradford Street with our dad. It was a beautiful, well-kept house. I close my eyes and can picture the small garage in the back yard that held my uncle’s Vespa. I can smell the salt air. I can remember the holly bush in the back. And I can remember the care and love shown by my grandparents, Joe and Elizabeth. It broke my heart to see the shape the house had gotten to. So many memories there.
Richard B. Hall wrote on 11 June 2014: My heart breaks at reading the Gaspars’ accounts. It’s perfectly criminal that this house is no longer there. Let us all take a lesson in preservation from its destruction.
Steve Gaspar wrote on 17 June 2014: I spoke with my dad this weekend. My great-grandfather took possession of the house in 1896. The house had been floated across the bay on a log raft from Wellfleet. Dad didn’t know when it came across, but it was a schoolhouse at one point in time.
John J. Gaspar Jr. wrote on 21 June 2014: Antone bought the house in 1896 for $285. My father, John — who is now 86 years old — has the original deed. And, yes, it was a former Wellfleet schoolhouse that was floated across the harbor before Antone bought it. He passed away in 1950. Joseph was born in the house in 1900. The original kitchen was on the Brewster Street side of the house. It had a sand floor, and was used as a basement after Joseph built the new kitchen (with a root cellar) on the opposite side of the house. He also wired the house for electricity himself, running the wires down from the attic in the gap between the vertical siding boards. He later became a motorcycle cop in Boston until an on-duty accident forced him into early retirement in 1945. He and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Worcester after that. Antone left him the house with the stipulation that Manuel would live there for the rest of his life. They lived there during the summers and rented rooms to tourists. Winters were spent in Worcester. Manuel stayed there year round until he passed away sitting at the kitchen table. I’m not sure when my grandparents moved there year round. It was 1968 or 69 when they moved to Florida. Their son, Warren, his wife, Mary, and myself continued to live there. By the time the house was sold in 1970 I had moved away. I remember my grandfather being happy it was sold to a tradesman. He was sure it was in good hands. I’m so grateful he never knew what became of it.