124 Alden Street

Graciette Leocadia “Grace” (Gouveia) Collinson (1909-1998) is memorialized nearby by the name of the Grace Gouveia Condominium, 26 Alden Street. She had nothing to do with the condo, but with the predecessor institution: the Council on Aging.

The council dated to 1972, emerging from the Senior Citizens Group run by Gouveia. She was beloved of generations of Provincetown residents as their fifth- and sixth-grade teacher in the Governor Bradford School, forerunner of the Community Center on Bradford Street. She had arrived in town as a seven-year-old immigrant from Olhão, Portugal. After graduating from Provincetown High School, Gouveia attended the American International College in Springfield, which had been founded specifically to educate immigrants, and then Mount Holyoke College, one of the Seven Sisters, in South Hadley.

Gouveia taught grade schoolers in Provincetown until 1961, when she moved to New York City, where she served as a social worker and teacher in Spanish Harlem. That was a followed by a stint in Appalachia with the Volunteers in Service to America, the domestic version of the Peace Corps. “By the 1970s, she was back in Provincetown and very much a presence,” Marilyn Miller wrote in the obituary of Gouveia that appeared in the Advocate of 7 January 1999. “She served on many boards and committees in town.”

One of these was the Council on Aging, which Gouveia directed in the late 1970s. The council’s Senior Citizen Center, displaced by a fire in 1979 fire, operated temporarily out of both the Provincetown United Methodist Church, 20 Shank Painter Road, and the Episcopal Church of St. Mary of the Harbor, 513-519 Commercial Street. It moved to 26 Alden Street on 4 December 1981, by which time Ann E. Dowling was the director.

Two years later, at the Special Town Meeting of 24 October 1983, the building was renamed the “Grace Gouveia Town Building,” on a motion of Mary-Jo Avellar, then the chair of the Select Board. Rachel White, a longtime friend, told Miller: “I remember how she called me and said, ‘They can’t do that! I’m not dead yet, and you can’t name a building for someone if they aren’t dead.’ But she was pleased all the same, pleased that she had received the recognition.” In fact, she was to live another 16 years — though badly debilitated by a series of strokes — in the Cape End Manor just down the street.

Grace Gouveia. [Jay Critchley]

In memoriam

• Find a Grave Memorial No. 113977025.

Provincetown’s Historic Cemeteries and Memorials, by Amy Whorf McGuiggan, Memorial No. 80.

¶ Last updated on 10 December 2021.

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