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Delft Haven II Condominium.

There may be no more picturesque a cottage colony on the Lower Cape than Delft Haven, developed in 1935 by the businessman Ralph Snow Carpenter (1884-1970) and his wife, Constance Adams (Vose) Carpenter (1888-1984), to attract the “better” grade of visitor to Provincetown — a distinction, in Ralph’s eyes, that meant no Jews and no homosexuals. So if Carpenter were alive today, he’d be spinning in his grave. Though Delft Haven has retained its beguiling architectural charm, it is now best known publicly as the setting of the annual White Party on Labor Day weekend, a highlight of the LGBTQ social season. (At least until the pandemic summer of 2020.) Eight hundred tickets are sold to the event, which benefits Outer Cape Health Services. The single rule is: white attire only; anything else goes. And it often does.


The 2014 White Party, by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 31 August 2014. A gallery of party photos, from 1983 through 2019, is at the end of this article.


Ralph Carpenter’s mother was Lydia Etta Snow. His father was Edmund J. Carpenter, the author of The Pilgrims and Their Monument (1911), an account that traces the story of the Pilgrim Monument back to the Separatist movement in England. Carpenter’s book includes the story of Speedwell, the vessel that departed from Delfthaven (Delfshaven), Holland, on 1 August 1620. It carried a group of Separatists who had been living in Leiden to Southampton, England, where they met a larger group aboard Mayflower. The two vessels were to have journeyed together across the Atlantic, but Speedwell was soon abandoned as precariously unseaworthy. Despite that, Delfthaven is regarded — romantically at least — as the starting point of the Pilgrims’ journey.


Robert W. Weir’s Embarkation of the Pilgrims, which took place from Delfthaven (or Delfshaven), was reproduced in The Pilgrims and Their Monument by Edmund J. Carpenter, father of Ralph S. Carpenter, the developer of Delft Haven. Architect of the Capitol.


As a younger man, Ralph Carpenter had worked as the general manager of a 25,000-acre Caribbean Sugar Company plantation at Manopla, in the Camagüey Province of Cuba. If it was like other Cuban plantations under the control of U.S. corporations, it might have had a segregated neighborhood for North American personnel, designed to be a reproduction of home. This meant large houses, graded streets, front lawns, gardens, parks, ball grounds, and tennis courts in the middle of the cane lands.

In 1928, Constance Carpenter purchased the site on 7 Commercial Street. (The Carpenters lived next door, at 9-11 Commercial Street.) The 0.86-acre waterfront lot must have offered enticing possibilities to Ralph, an avid promoter of the West End who was imbued with Pilgrim lore and accustomed to self-contained communities. (I would love to be able to attribute the design of Delft Haven, which was quite brilliant for its purpose of enchanted insularity.)


Ralph Snow Carpenter and his bell collection, displayed on the lawn of Delft Haven, were pictured in the Advocate on 2 October 1947.


Rather than seven identical cottages arrayed in a line like so many boxes, Delft Haven had seven cottages with five different plans, arrayed around a central lawn of nearly 3,000 square feet. The office sat outside the inner circle, on Commercial Street, in a structure that was demolished long ago. The plan allowed passers-by to get inviting glimpses of the tranquil colony, and the harbor beyond, but the narrow walkways between the central Cottage No. 2 and the flanking Cottages Nos. 1 and 3 made it plain. Private property. Keep out. This means you.


Delft Haven was such a phenomenon that it inspired its own postcards. This one was posted by Salvador R. Vasques III in My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection on Facebook, 6 May 2019.


Ralph Carpenter believed fervently that Provincetown needed to accommodate the needs and demands of well-heeled visitors. “Owners of tourist homes and cottages in Provincetown should realize that the rest of the world enjoys a bath once in a while,” he said in 1937.

Delft Haven set the standard for the Lower Cape. An early brochure stated:

“Attractive Cape Cod cottages located on the edge of the sea at the spot where the Pilgrim Fathers first landed in the new world are available for rent for any period you may wish.

“They are steam heated from a central plant and are completely furnished for housekeeping for four people.

“A living room with fireplace, bathroom, two bedrooms each with twin beds and an all-electric kitchen offer the facilities and comforts of a real home.

“The price of rental includes all requirements, electricity for all purposes, fuel for fireplaces, steam heat, linen, silver, and household laundry.

“Weekly housecleaning is done, and bath and table linen are changed daily.”

This came at a price. The seasonal rate was $10 a night, or about $185 in today’s money.


Delft Haven attracted several big celebrities in the early 1940s. Left: The Metropolitan Opera’s principal soprano, Lily Pons, stayed here with her husband, Andre Kostelanetz, at least twice. Wikimedia Commons. Right: One of the world’s most successful businesswomen, Helena Rubinstein, was a guest in 1941. Wikimedia Commons.


But Carpenter’s faith in the market for this sort of accommodation was rewarded. Delft Haven quickly became a favored honeymoon spot and also attracted families that came summer after summer after summer, some of them for decades, representing a steady source of income in a very unpredictable business. It also drew an occasional celebrity. The fantastically successful cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein stayed here in 1941. So did the internationally acclaimed Lily Pons, principal soprano of the Metropolitan Opera, together with her husband, Andre Kostelanetz, a famous conductor and arranger. They returned in 1942.

Far more important for the Carpenters’ business, 1942 was the year that Delft Haven first earned a recommendation from the tremendously influential food and travel writer Duncan Hines in his Lodging for a Night guide book series. And Delft Haven kept that recommendation decade after after. (You may know the name Duncan Hines from the cake mix. Hines was so popular in his time that he licensed his name lucratively to food manufacturers.)



An early promotional brochure looked very inviting, until one reached the last two words in it. From the Stephen Borkowski Collection.


In 1945, the Carpenters also purchased the sprawling, irregular cottage colony across the way, at 10 Commercial Street, and rebranded it as Delft Haven. It’s a typically Provincetown paradox that the first Delft Haven cottage colony is now the Delft Haven II condo, while the second Delft Haven cottage colony is now the Delft Haven I condo.

Delft Haven, and the contemporary Kalmar Village in Truro, were cited as inspirational developments. “Charm, beauty, and cleanliness are profitable,” an Advocate editorial declared in 1937, contrasting the two cottage colonies with littered streets and beaches fouled by “loathesome horse mackerel heads.”

“Good surroundings invariably tend to uplift any class of people,” the editorial stated.

Well, maybe not any class of people. Jews would have understood the words “PATRONAGE RESTRICTED,” in capital letters at the bottom of the brochure, to mean them. And it’s unlikely that the former manager of a Cuban sugar plantation would have welcomed guests of color.


An eight and ninth cottage were constructed, overlooking the beach. They upset the original symmetrical layout of the compound.


Carpenter faced a bigger problem by the early 1950s. A physician in Deep River, Conn., who had been a long-time patron sent him the following letter:

“It is with regret that Mrs. ——— and I have decided to cancel our reservation this year. Our decision was difficult because Delft Haven is the perfect vacation spot.

“It is the changing face of Provincetown itself that turned our decision. Primarily the swarming numbers of ‘queer boys.’ They flood all over our favorite eating spots, they cavort around Long Nook Beach, they almost fill the walks in Provincetown. If one is willing to imprison himself at Delft Haven he can avoid them, but we like to browse around town and have leisurely meals without their disturbing influence.

“If things should change in this regard we would attempt to regain a position on your register without delay.”

To the considerable number of other things that vexed Carpenter, openly gay visitors to Provincetown now found themselves in his crosshairs. The next year, as a member of the Board of Selectmen (as it was then called), Carpenter signed himself to the infamous “Appeal to All Decent People in the Town of Provincetown.”

“We are at this moment overrun with a throng of men described by Archbishop [Richard] Cushing as ‘the lowest form of animal life,'” the open letter stated. “We need your articulate and militant support. Exert the power of your influence to help stamp out this degrading and soul-destroying influence. Save our boys and girls from complete moral degradation.”

And our innkeepers from any further loss of patronage.


Ralph Carpenter collected tower bells in Cuba and displayed them on the lawn of Delft Haven. This 1954 photo comes from the Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell on the Provincetown History Provincetown Project website, Page 1196.


Vandals also plagued Carpenter from time to time. He possessed five antique tower bells. He displayed them on the lawn of Delft Haven, hanging from crossbars and brackets on two heavy timber posts. Periodically, as in March 1965, enterprising malefactors would make off with a bell. What interested me in the Advocate account of this particular crime was the choice of verbs — emphasis mine. “Mr. Carpenter, for many years a plantation supervisor in Cuba, collected a number of historic bells when he lived there, the stolen bell among them.” Ah. He collected. The vandals stole.

Despite vicissitudes like these, the Carpenters held on at Delft Haven until their 80s, in 1970, when they sold the properties on either side of the road to three long-time guests from Woodhaven, Queens: Mildred A. and Robert H. Auguet, and Julia E. Sudro. They only owned the parcels for five years before selling them to Peter L. Boyle of Provincetown and John H. Boyle of Fort Lauderdale, for $276,000 — roughly $1.3 million in today’s money.


Peter L. Boyle, in sunglasses, who converted Delft Haven into a condominium. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


The Delft Haven quadrangle in 2010. Photograph by David W. Dunlap.


The Boyles converted the cottage colony into condominium ownership, making Delft Haven one of the earliest such associations in Provincetown. By the time of the conversion, there were nine cottages on the shorefront parcel. The ninth cottage was designated No. 17, since it followed in sequence from the units at 10 Commercial Street.

David A. Webster of Newton was the first buyer of Unit 3 (Cottage 3), paying $42,500 in 1977. He sold it three years later, for $49,000, to a couple from Boston, Kenneth J. Kruse, a mathematics teacher, and Dr. Donald E. Cote, a dentist.


Kenneth J. Kruse (left) and Dr. Donald E. Cote were the hosts in 1981 of the first event of what became the White Party. Both photos by their courtesy.


The next summer, 1981, was not a joyous one. At the beginning of the July Fourth weekend, The New York Times confirmed publicly what had — until then — only been whispered about. Something was going around. Something awful. “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals,” said the headline over an article by Dr. Lawrence K. Altman. “Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made.” The cancer was Kaposi’s sarcoma, and its visible signature were purple lesions all over the body.

Kruse recalled socializing with some friends during the Labor Day weekend on the beach in front of Delft Haven.

“It was a cool and overcast day and spirits were low, not just because of the weather, but because of the conversation. The ‘gay cancer’ had begun to change lives and a sense of looming doom filled the hearts of many. At that time we did not imagine just how horrific it would become.

“In an effort to change the atmosphere that afternoon I went back to Cottage No. 3 that my now spouse and I had bought the previous year. I made a huge batch of margaritas, set up the croquet set in the quadrangle and made a crude costume out of a white bathroom sink skirt and convinced everyone on the beach get up and party.

“It worked! Everyone’s mood changed and we had a great time. When it was over, Don and I decided to start the ‘Two ‘til Tea’ tradition of a croquet and cocktail party every Labor Day Saturday.’”

The second annual party in 1982 was an even greater success. “So many townies, vacationers, waiters, waitresses, and performers came together to have fun and enjoy each other,” Kruse said.


Left: Dr. Peter L. Page revived the White Party and was its third host. Photo courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Right: Robert F. Lenzi, the fourth and current host. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


Though not yet known as the “White Party” — it was officially the “Delft Haven Croquet and Cocktail Tournament” — the 1983 event did give a hint of what was to come with the instruction at the bottom of the invitation: “Psst … croquet drag is always white and flowing.”

“Attire: resource, wonderful, white,” read the instruction to the fifth annual cocktail and croquet party in 1985. The next year, Cottage No. 8 was purchased by Dr. Peter L. Page, the chief executive officer of the Northeast Region Red Cross Blood Center in Dedham, and his partner, Robert L. Black.

Their arrival was providential, because Kruse and Cote were weary. “There was an elephant in the room,” Kruse said. “The party grew but each year we recognized some, and then later many, people — friends — were missing. We sang happy birthday to some that were so sick they could not stand, knowing we weren’t going to see them next year. Of note was one guest, Alice Foley, our town nurse, who watched over some who needed attention. These parties were fun and sad at the same time but our community needed them and recognized the importance of coming together and escaping for a few hours.” The seventh party, in 1987, was their last. In 1990, they left Delft Haven.


Delft Haven in 2010. Photo by David W. Dunlap.


Happily, the story did not end there. In 1993, Dr. Page approached Kruse and Cote to ask whether he might revive the white-attire party. “We were ecstatic that Peter was willing to step up and do this,” Kruse said.

So, under Dr. Page, the White Party resumed in 1994. It was the eighth event. (That six-year interruption explains why the 2020 party is designated the 34th event, instead of the 40th.) And it kept growing. In time, Robert F. Lenzi of San Francisco began assisting Dr. Page in organizing the party.

In 2000, a live DJ, Lee Thornhill, came aboard. He still provides music for the White Party, which he’s also memorialized on the Mixcloud streaming service (Here are the mixes for the 2016, 2017, and 2019 parties.)


The winter storms of 2018 were rough on Delft Haven. Dunlap.


An all-white-attire gathering in the Delft Haven quadrangle has an off-putting air of exclusivity to it. But a 62-year-old blogger named Frank DeFrancesco admitted he was “pleasantly surprised at how good a time I had” at the 24th event in 2010. “The White Party was a hoot — watching all the costumes and hot guys — and not-so-hot guys, too,” he wrote on Reluctant Rebel. “Young and old, ‘conservative’ dressers like me, in just white, and the real flamboyant guys with feathers and puffs and heels and fishnets.”

Dr. Page elevated the party’s civic standing in 2011 when he transformed it into a fundraiser for Outer Cape Health Services. Three years later, he died. Lenzi bought Units 7 and 8 from the Page estate in 2014 and continued the White Party, becoming its fourth host.

The White Party raised $52,000 for Outer Cape Health Services in 2017, according to Lenzi; $67,000 in 2018; and $81,000 in 2019. There seemed to be no stopping it.

Until the novel coronavirus, which compelled Lenzi to cancel the 34th party scheduled in 2020. He urged would-have-been attendees to contribute to Outer Cape Health Services all the same. “And next year,” he promised, we will celebrate with the best party ever.”


White Party gallery
IDs and corrections are welcome. Please use the comment form at the bottom.


1982. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1982. Marty Davis. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1982. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1983. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote.


1983. Allen Ballek was the co-proprietor of the Flowers in the Square florist shop in Greenwich Village, with his partner Ross Perry. Allen was to die of AIDS complications a few months after this picture was taken. Ross died five years later. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1983. Alix Ritchie. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1983. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1983. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1984. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1984. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1984. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1984. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1984. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1984. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote.


1985. Wayland Flowers — in turquoise! horrors! — and Madame, over his right shoulder. Madame is appropriately in white. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. Tim O’Connor, one half of the Hat Sisters. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. Onlookers. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. What could have made them so curious? Nothing to see here. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1985. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. The Hat Sisters. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. David Schoolman, proprietor of Lands End Inn, at the far left. In the beachfront scene at right, Alice Foley, the town nurse, is holding forth, perched on the fence. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Ken Kruse is standing in the doorway of Cottage No. 3, at the right. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


1986. Courtesy of Kenneth J. Kruse and Dr. Donald E. Cote. Photo credit pending.


2012. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 4 September 2012.


2013. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 4 April 2014.


2013. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 4 April 2014.


2014. The Hat Sisters — John Michael Gray, left, and Tim O’Connor. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 31 August 2014.


2014. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 31 August 2014.


2015. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 29 August 2016.


2015. The Hat Sisters — John Michael Gray and Tim O’Connor — on the left. Photos by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 29 August 2016 (left) and also 29 August 2016 (right).


2015. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 29 August 2016.


2015. Lee Thornhill has been the DJ at the White Party since 2000. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 29 August 2016.


Thornhill releases his play lists on Mixcloud.


2016. Screenshot from The White Party 2016: Provincetown, by David A. Cox, on his Droning Provincetown YouTube channel.


2017. Screenshot from White Party 2017: Provincetown, by David A. Cox, on his Droning Provincetown YouTube channel.


2017. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 6 September 2017.


2017. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 6 September 2017.


2017. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 6 September 2017.


2017. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 5 September 2017.


2017. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 6 September 2017.


2017. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 6 September 2017.


2017. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 5 September 2017.


2017-2018. Photos by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 20 September 2018 (left) and 2 September 2017.


2018. Screenshot from White Party 2018 — Provincetown, by David A. Cox, on his Droning Provincetown YouTube channel.


2018. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 20 September 2018.


2018. Valton Jackson. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 20 September 2018.


2018. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 20 September 2018.


2018. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 20 September 2018.


2018. Alex Taratuta and Kevin Quinn. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 20 September 2018.


2018. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 20 September 2018.


2019. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


2019. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


2019. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


2019. Robert Lenzi, the host of the White Party, as “Dr. Feelgood,” on the left. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


2019. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


2019. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


2019. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


2019. Photo by Dan McKeon, posted on Facebook, 12 September 2019.


2019. Instead of his customary musical and aerial production, David A. Cox attended the 2019 event as a partygoer. But he still managed to create a funny video, Wearing Heels to the White Party? It concerns the perils awaiting those unaccustomed to high-heeled footwear.


2020. Notice of cancellation on the whiteparty.org website. Photo by David A. Cox.


¶ Last updated on 7 September 2020.


7 Commercial Street on the Town Map.


Also at 7 Commercial Street:

Delft Haven II Condominium (Unit 1)

Delft Haven II Condominium (Unit 2)

Delft Haven II Condominium (Unit 3)

Delft Haven II Condominium (Unit 4)

Delft Haven II Condominium (Unit 5)

Delft Haven II Condominium (Unit 6)

Delft Haven II Condominium (Unit 7 and 8)

Delft Haven II Condominium (Unit 17)

Delft Haven office (Demolished)


Kenneth J. Kruse wrote on 12 January 2014: Don Cote and I lived there in the 1980s, where we initiated the now somewhat well known White Party of Labor Day weekend.


Mary-Jo Avellar wrote on 13 January 2014: Delft Haven was owned by the late Peter Boyle, who eventually owned the Anchor Inn [175 Commercial Street]. I was working as a paralegal for the law firm Lawson & Wayne, who prepared the condominium documents. Once the units were sold, Peter built a home on or near Point Street and acquired the Anchor Inn, which he renovated prior to his death.


Richard Faust wrote on 19 August 2014: Bayberry Bend condos, located at 910 Commercial Street, is the oldest condo complex in Provincetown. Its master deed is dated 28 August 1972; Delft Haven’s is 28 June 1977. A small bit of trivia: Bay Colony Condos, located at 690 Commercial Street, were the first built expressly to be condominiums. The Bay Colony master deed is dated 9 June 1976.


Thumbnail image: Photo, 2012, by David W. Dunlap.


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