Former Archer Inn and Lamplighter Inn cottage
Cottage behind 26 Bradford Street. [2012, Town Assessor]
Advertisement in the 1990 Guide to Provincetown, by the Chamber of Commerce. [David Jarrett Collection]
The cottage behind 26 Bradford Street was constructed in 1966, according to Town records, suggesting that it dates from the ownership of Janice E. Richards, who bought the property in 1965. Ronald Alfred Schleimer (1943-1990) paid $84,000 for the house and grounds in 1978.
With that, a 39-year era began in which the cottage became a public accommodation as part of an inn.
Under Schleimer and his partner, Stephen Milkewicz, the property was called the Lamplighter Guest House and Cottage. Years later, Milkewicz recalled those times: “Provincetown in 1978 was about to change to the Ptown that we know today.”
“When we bought 26 Bradford Street, the talk around town was the same you hear today. Two young rich guys from N.Y.C. just paid a ridiculous price for that old run-down eyesore! We also found that we bought in the Portuguese West End. Not many — if any — gays lived in that section. It really was like a village in Portugal back then.
“It took a while for our neighbors to warm up to us. But my partner had a great way of making friends with everyone he would meet. When the house and front yard started looking good, neighbors realized that we ran a clean, quiet, and sexually mixed house. We never turned down anyone who wanted to stay with us. Most gay-owned guest houses back then would be men only. The locals really warmed up to us when an old house on upper Franklin Street caught fire, and we opened our guest house to neighbors and firemen with coffee and shelter from the freezing cold night. Old timers still talk about what we did.
“My partner was asked by the Provincetown Business Guild to become a director (secretary) in charge of getting more member businesses to join. Knowing that the town was divided between gay and straight, P.B.G. and the Chamber of Commerce, Ron went out and talked over 200 new businesses into joining the guild to increase gay tourism, even if the owners were not gay, but were gay-friendly. Many guild members did not like this at first but came around to liking the advertising that over 200 new membership dues money could buy to promote the town to the world.
“We decided to sell the Lamplighter in 1985 when Ron’s teenage son, Jason, decided to come and live with us and go to Provincetown High. I guess we were a little ahead of the times by putting 26 Bradford Street up for sale for a high price for back then. Everyone in town said it would never sell for that. It sold within two months.”1
The price was $250,000 — almost three times what they had paid for it only seven years earlier. The purchasers were Daniel J. McDougald Jr., Dorothy E. McDougald, and William A. McDougald of Auburn. They sold the property in 1989 to Joseph I. Czarnecki, for $330,000.
At the time, the business was still being operated as the Lamplighter Inn. “Open all year,” said an advertisement in the 1990 Chamber of Commerce guide. “Spacious clean rooms and cottage with private baths and entrances. … Offering free parking, continental breakfasts, water views, daily maid service, and large rooftop deck, all on our beautifully landscaped grounds.”
Czarnecki held on to 26 Bradford for six years before selling it for $425,700 to Steven K. Vittum of Chicago. In 1998, under the name of the Lamplighter Realty Trust, Vittum sold it to Richard S. Golon and John L. Peternell for $690,000. It looks like Golon and Peternell changed the name of the guest house, since they operated under the name Archer Inn Nominee Trust. They sold the property for $1.16 million in 2003 to Brian J. McGuinness and Darryl P. Murphy of Greenwich, Conn., who assumed the lodging license that year.
The Archer Inn had 10 rooms, including the cottage in back. The clientele was mostly men and the rates in 2006 ranged from $100 to $245 a night. “We’ve recaptured the grace of yesteryear with Art Deco furnishings and artwork,” a 2013 advertisement said, “creating an elegant, comfortable atmosphere. Spectacular views of Provincetown, Cape Cod Bay, and the dunes.”
Its days as a public accommodation ended in 2017, when McGuinness and Murphy sold 26 Bradford Street to a resident of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., for $1.75 million — seven times its market value in 1985.
Stephen Milkewicz wrote on 12 August 2009: I’m the partner of Ronald A. Schleimer. We lived in, and ran the Lamplighter Guest House and Cottage from 1978 to 1985. I am now on the Historical Commission.
¶ Last updated on 29 December 2022.
1 Stephen Milkewicz email to the author, 16 May 2013. Lightly edited.
26 Bradford Street on the Town Map, showing property lines.