1807 House Condominium.
Despite its 19th-century name, this full Cape was constructed in the late 18th century, making it among the oldest surviving structures in town. For convenience, the building stood much closer to the shoreline than it does now, since Commercial Street had not yet been laid out and residents commuted around the harbor on boats. The builder was Capt. Stephen Nickerson (1756-1832). His son, also Stephen Nickerson (1793-1879), an organizer of the Union Wharf Company, moved the house upland around 1835, after Commercial Street had been established. “The home was once thought to have been moved back to its present location in 1807, hence the name of the property,” explained the website of the former bed-and-breakfast, which closed in 2009. Stephen Thomas Nickerson (1824-1893), the son of Stephen and grandson of Captain Stephen, built the Steve Tom Nickerson Wharf almost directly opposite the house, at what is now the West End Parking Lot, 55-57 Commercial Street.
The house — which was denominated 39 Commercial Street at the time — remained in the family’s hands until 1899, when Steve Tom’s brother, Luther Nickerson (1829-1903) sold it to Edmund Janes Carpenter (1845-1924), a newspaperman and author who would cut a very high profile in town thanks to Provincetown: The Tip of the Cape, a 1900 viewbook; The Pilgrims and Their Monument (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1911); and The Mayflower Pilgrims (New York and Cincinnati: Abingdon Press, 1918).¹ Carpenter was descended from a family that arrived in Massachusetts from England in 1638 aboard the merchant ship Bevis and subsequently helped settle the town of Rehoboth, almost due east of Providence. He and his wife, Lydia Etta (Snow) Carpenter (1851-1922) were the parents of Ralph Snow Carpenter (1884-1970), who lived at 9-11 Commercial Street and developed Delft Haven, at 7 Commercial Street and 10 Commercial Street; and of Paul Moulton Carpenter (1876-1914), who contributed detailed field reports from Provincetown to the 1905 study, “Damage Done by Dogfish to the Fisheries of Massachusetts.” Lydia and Edmund were also the grandparents of Edmund Snow “Ted” Carpenter (1922-2011), a renowned anthropologist who was married to the photographer and philanthropist Adelaide de Menil.
The Carpenter family sold 54 Commercial Street in 1924, the year of Edmund’s death, to John Chester Herring (1883-1965) and his wife, Cora Allen Herring.² Herring was the proprietor of the Provincetown Art Shop, 373 Commercial Street, which functioned as a gallery. After a dozen years, the Herrings sold to Morris L. Horner and his wife, Margaret Lee Horner.³ They owned the house for nine years before selling to Mae Conklin Blaney, just after the end of World War II.⁴ Next on the scene were Hubert G. and Laura D. Summers, who bought 54 Commercial in 1951.⁵ Summers was a milk truck driver. The oldest reference to the “1807 House” that I could find in The Advocate occurred in 1953, while the property was still owned by Summers.
Clifton Stephen Perry (1926-2005), the son of Eva (Tasha) Perry and Stephen Jesse Perry, was the next owner.⁶ He and his wife, Margaret H. “Mimi” Perry, bought the property in 1954, when it was listed under “Guest Houses” in the tourist guide published by the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce. Perry was a carpenter, woodworker, and fisherman. The family sold the 1807 House to Jean Peck in 1957, when they moved to Florida.⁷ The Murphy family owned the property from 1968 to 1977, when Robert George Hooper and David Charles Murray of Toronto took over.⁸ They ran the 1807 House until 1995, when they sold it to William C. H. (Court) Prentice Jr.⁹ He operated the bed-and-breakfast until 2009, with Dean N. Macara, the son of Capt. Nobert N. Macara, who skippered Liberty. All four units composing the main house were sold in 2016 to Dr. Nicklas B. Oldenburg and Paul D. Carter of Providence.
For a view of the rear cottage, please see 54 Commercial Street.
¶ Last updated on 27 June 2018.
Amy Whorf McGuiggan wrote on 29 June 2014: The house was built by Capt. Stephen Nickerson (1756-1832), son of Seth. Stephen’s son, Stephen (1793-1879) was a whaler who, with his cousins, formed Union Wharf Company. A fourth generation Nickerson, Stephen Thomas (1824-1893), son of Stephen, built the wharf in front of the property at the current site of the West End parking lot.
Left: Edmund J. Carpenter, pictured in A Press Club Outing: A Trip Across the Continent to Attend the First Convention of the International League of Press Clubs (1893). From Google Books. Right: The cover of Carpenter’s Provincetown: The Tip of the Cape (1900), in the online exhibition “Viewbooks: Window Into America.” From the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
The 1807 House in 2009, the last year of its operation as a bed-and-breakfast, by David W. Dunlap.
Detail of a mailer sent out in 1989 by Robert George Hooper and David Charles Murray. From the collection of David Jarrett.
¹ Nickerson to Carpenter, 3 May 1899, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 238, Page 483.
² Carpenter to Herring, 24 July 1924, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 406, Page 12.
³ Herring to Horner, 2 March 1936, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 518, Page 278.
⁴ Horner to Blaney, 29 October 1945, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 636, Page 194.
⁵ Blaney estate to Summers, 21 June 1951, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 786, Page 185.
⁶ Summers to Perry, 8 December 1954, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 894, Page 33.
⁷ Perry to Peck, 16 August 1957, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 980, Page 589.
⁸ Murphy to Hooper et alia, 1 April 1977, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 2487, Page 192.
⁹ Hooper et alia to Prentice, 2 May 1995, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, Book 9650, Page 318.