Former Archer Inn | Former Lamplighter Inn Guest House and Cottage
26 Bradford Street as the Archer Inn. [2008, Dunlap]
A lawn ornament from the Archer Inn period. [2008, Dunlap]
Advertisement in the Advocate of 5 July 1945. [Provincetown Public Library / Community History Archive]
Advertisement in the 1990 Guide to Provincetown, by the Chamber of Commerce. [David Jarrett Collection]
The Archer Inn boasted of its “spectacular” rooftop views, but these visitors (Scott Bane and Richard Foote) were importuned to face the camera instead. [2004, Dunlap]
A private home once again. [2022, Dunlap]
As much as her husband is remembered as the swashbuckling “Sea Fox,” Judith Tobey Zora (1907-1969) deserves to be recalled as a civic powerhouse in the years immediately following World War II, when she lived here for a few years with their daughter, Mary Ellen Zora (b1926). Judith was the president of the Nautilus Club; an officer of the Provincetown Civic Association; the president of the Mothers Club; the chairwoman of Provincetown’s final U.S.O. fundraising drive of the war; a delegate to the 1948 Massachusetts State Convention of the Progressive Citizens of America, which campaigned for the third-party presidential candidacy of Henry A. Wallace; and a moderator for the Massachusetts Committee for World Federation, which advocated for a worldwide federal government in lieu of the United Nations, which could make no laws binding its members.
Town records indicate that the house, which stands near the top of steep hillock, was constructed in 1853. Coast Guardsman Warren Augustus Ellis (1875-1956) and his wife, Sadie E. (Jensen) Ellis (1884-1972), purchased the property in 1929 from Arthur P. and Grace Honora Jensen. As a life-saver, Ellis was “well known from Scituate to Provincetown, Monomoy to Great Point Light, Nantucket,” the Advocate said in his obituary. While living in this house, Ellis participated in the rescue of three crew members of the schooner Irving J. Luce of Gloucester, which went aground near Race Point on 8 November 1931. (A fourth man, sailing as a passenger, was lost to the sea.)
The Ellises disposed of the property in 1942, after which it was acquired by Judith Zora,1 who was married for a time to Capt. Manuel Zora (1895-1979). Manuel attained national celebrity in 1956 with the publication of The Sea Fox: The Adventures of Cape Cod’s Most Colorful Rumrunner by Scott Corbett. Captain Zora’s boat was named Mary Ellen, no doubt after his daughter. In 1946, Mary Ellen supervised the Provincetown chapter of Camp Fire Girls, which met here at 26 Bradford Street.
Kenneth Lloyd Enos bought the house from Judith Zora in 1947 and owned it until 1959, when Agnes A. McKellar acquired it. Two years later, she sold it to Billy M. and Martha A. Hensley. Janice E. Richards paid them $24,500 for the property in 1965. She and her husband, William F. Richards, sold the property in 1977 for $65,000 to John V. Pascucci Jr. and Mark L. Szurek of Houston. Just a year later, Ronald Alfred Schleimer (1943-1990) paid $84,000 for the house and grounds.
With that, a 39-year era began in which 26 Bradford Street served as a guest house.
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.”2
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.
• Sadie E. (Jensen) Ellis (1884-1972)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 147334556.
• Warren Augustus Ellis (1875-1956)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 34284968.
1 She was also known legally as Judith Tobey Murray and Judith Tobey Nascimento — a surname she shared with her brother-in-law Joaquin “Jack Zora” Nascimento and her (adopted) daughter, who was known both as Mary Ellen Zora and Mary Ellen Nascimento. Surnames were swapped easily and misspelled frequently back in the day. Adding to that confusion, the definition of “family” in Provincetown was generously elastic, as it had to be where husbands and fathers spent days, weeks, months, and even years at sea — and, when ashore, often shared beds with women who were not their lawfully wedded wives. That is, if they returned.
2 Stephen Milkewicz email to the author, 16 May 2013. Lightly edited.
26 Bradford Street on the Town Map, showing property lines.
Also at this address