2020 Commercial 052


La Principessa.

A splash of pink, this 1850s house at 52 Commercial Street is known as “La Principessa.” It was here that John Whorf, a water-colorist whom The Advocate called the “jewel in the crown of many noted Provincetown artists,” rode out the hurricane of 1944. Though born in Winthrop, he came to town at a young age to visit his grandfather Isaiah. Handsome and worldly, he became a consummate town insider, serving as Skipper of the Beachcombers, but was also well-known off-Cape. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for instance, acquired his Southern Ocean in 1939. Whorf died in 1959, at the age of 56. His granddaughter Amy Whorf McGuiggan is the author of the memoir, My Provincetown. This was the property of Luther Nickerson at the turn of the 20th century, when it was denominated 37 Commercial Street. Nickerson was a fish dealer with Stephen T. Nickerson in the firm of S. T. & L. Nickerson, listed in the 1886 directory. In 1868, he was the Worthy Chief Templar in the Provincetown lodge of the Independent Order of Good Templars, a fraternal society devoted chiefly to temperance.

¶ Last updated on 8 January 2019.

Amy Whorf McGuiggan wrote on 21 January 2014: Prior to purchasing 52 Commercial Street, my grandparents lived in the Oldest House [72 Commercial], then owned by the Waughs, who also owned several other properties in the neighborhood between Nickerson and West Vine Streets that came to be known as “Waughville.” After riding out the war years at the Oldest House, the Whorfs settled in at 52 Commercial, where one of the perks for my grandfather was the open view across Commercial Street and the harbor. Flyer Santos kept a boat yard there back in the day and numerous paintings were made by my grandfather from his living room window of fishing boats hauled up for repair and storage at Flyer’s. Flyer loved to tell me that when he moved his boatyard to its present location my grandfather cried like a baby that the inspirational subject matter had been taken away!

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