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(May 2008.)

Former Barnstormers’ Theater.

In a town full of wild structures, this amazing relic at 27A Bradford Street (c 1915) is one of the wildest: a shingled fly loft for a theater that was integral to the early 20th-century Provincetown renaissance. Frank Shay, an editor and bookseller, belonged to the original Provincetown Players. In 1924, in a bid to keep the spirit of the Players alive after the troupe moved to New York, he converted his barn into the Barnstormers’ Theater. More than any other local theater, it followed the Players’ experimental approach, Leona Rust Egan wrote in Provincetown as a Stage. Eugene O’Neill, Mary Heaton Vorse, and Harry Kemp were associated with it. After Paul Robeson’s successful portrayal of The Emperor Jones, Shay campaigned to bring that production to town. Instead, Egan said, Robeson appeared here in 1925 in a program of spirituals and folk songs. Local lore has it that Bette Davis also trod these boards, but Egan was careful to qualify such claims.

The cottage colony around the theater building was known in the 1940s and 1950s as Skipper Raymond’s Cottages, an accommodation run by Frank Raymond (±1887-1956) and Frances (Perry) Raymond (1905-2009), who later lived at 18 Pleasant Street and is depicted on the mural at Fisherman’s Wharf, They Also Faced the Sea. The property is now owned by Anton “Napi” Van Dereck Haunstrup (b 1932), proprietor of Napi’s.

¶ Last updated 12 July 2016.

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