2020 Commercial 049A Perspective Corrected


Despite all the dramatic changes that time has brought to the West End, the Pinkerson family of Washington continues to own the waterfront home directly behind Twin Bays, 49 Commercial Street, as it has since 1946. The property, which then included the main house on Commercial Street, was acquired by Harry Pinkerson (1903-1975), the proprietor of the Pinkerson women’s apparel store in downtown Providence, and his wife, Fannie “Fan” (Bass) Pinkerson (1903-1994), a dancer and artist, who painted under the name Ian. “I don’t care if it is a man’s name,” she told the reporter Frank Crotty of The Worcester Telegram in 1960. “I like it.” (When Crotty threatened playfully to punch her in the nose if she didn’t resume using the name Fan, she replied: “I’d punch you right back.”) In 1976, the Pinkersons donated her painting, Happy Days, Paris, to the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.

It was the Pinkersons who decided to separate the streetfront and waterfront properties, selling off the Commercial frontage in 1947 to Helene Culbertson. The deed came with an easement along the east side of the Pinkerson house, but Culbertson soon decided it was more convenient to use a pathway on the west side of the Pinkersons’, inadvertently setting up a conflict that would not be resolved for 35 years. By that time, the western route was the customary way by which the owner of 49 Commercial Street — now Patrick P. Trani — made his way to the beach. The Pinkersons had built a deck on the eastern side of their house and added a picture window overlooking the deck, rendering the eastern easement even less attractive. But when the Pinkersons openly interfered with Trani’s use of the eastern easement, and Trani retaliated by interfering with the Pinkersons’ use of the customary gateway to their property (known as the “blue gate” in the legal papers), the matter wound up in court. More than once.

Finally, in 1982, the Massachusetts Land Court, sitting in Barnstable, ruled against the Pinkersons’ claim that the eastern easement had been abandoned by the owners of 49 Commercial, but also ruled that the Pinkersons had established a right to use the gateway that Trani had partly blocked with a fence. The court scolded all sides that the matter had “consumed substantial judicial resources and time.”

The home is owned today by the Alan Pinkerson Family Trust of Washington. Dr. Pinkerson is Fan and Harry’s son.

¶ Last updated on 21 June 2018.

For further reading online

Patrick P. Trani vs. Fan B. Pinkerson (MISC 95313), Massachusetts Land Court Decisions, Massachusetts Cases.

For further viewing online

Happy Days, Paris (Undated), by Fan Pinkerson, Accession No. 419.Pa76, Provincetown Art Association and Museum.

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