That once-quintessentially American illustrator, Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), may not have been ideally suited to Provincetown. But credit him for having given it a couple of chances, most lately in 1947, when he tried to spend the summer at 75 Commercial Street with his wife and three sons. “However,” The Advocate noted, “Mr. Rockwell, who works with intense concentration, with a passion for authentic detail that amounts almost to a phobia, found that he could not get into the groove except in his own and familiar study.”
Celebrities of a different sort descended the next summer, when Julius Monk (1912-1995) — a sharp-eyed talent scout, cabaret impresario, and stage manager at the Ruban Bleu nightclub in Manhattan — set up vacation housekeeping at No. 75. The other tenants were Imogene Coca (1908-2001), soon to become one of TV’s first superstars when paired with Sid Caesar, but then delighting audiences at the Atlantic House with her “matchless mimetics”; her husband, Robert Burton; and the comedy team of Jack Fletcher and Bill Sheidy. Two of Monk’s other A-House headliners — Bibi Osterwald (1918-2002), of “vivacious voice,” and Hugh Shannon (1921-1982), the “bar balladist” — performed at a late-summer party at 75 Commercial Street for about 150 invited guests, while many dozens more “crowded surrounding wharves, watched from boats, hung out of windows, straddled ridge poles,” The Advocate reported.
No. 75 was then owned by Dudley R. Wood and his wife, Elizabeth, of Livingston, N.J. He was president of the Lacquerite Corporation, makers of liquid cosmetics. She had her portrait painted by Vollian Burr Rann. In the 1930s, the building had been home to the Provincetown Bridge Club, in the person of Harry T. Hallahan. Gerald Bate ran a jam, jelly, and relish shop called Sweets by Bate in the late 1940s, followed by the Penguin Shop, which sold Christmas decorations and ornaments. John D. Bell, a prominent town historian and photographer, lived there in the 1950s.
Barry E. Barnes, a lawyer who had devoted much of his professional to the Federal Trade Commission, bought 75 Commercial from Roslyn Garfield and Phyllis Temple in 1984. He operated Gallerani’s Café at 133 Commercial Street until 2003, when he transferred the victuallers licenses to Lorraine Najar, who reopened it as Lorraine’s Café. (It is now Joon Bar and Kitchen.) Barnes rents the downstairs unit at 75 Commercial Street and lives upstairs, when he isn’t in Hawaii.
¶ Last updated on 17 July 2018.
For further reading online
Property No. 29688, VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner), HomeAway.com.