The garage (left) and cottage (right) at 287 Bradford Street were once the out-buildings of 594 Commercial Street (below). [2010, Dunlap]
594 Commercial Street was the “front” property. [2009, Dunlap]
Left: Marion Moran Cook’s delightful cover illustration for the August 1931 House Beautiful. [SVA Library Picture & Periodicals Collection / Magazine Covers — 1930-1939] Right: The Cooks’ son, Stephen, illustrated Little Golden Books, including Our Flag. [Amazon]
Lauren Cook illustrated “Visiting Blonde,” by Rebecca Shallit, in the January 1959 issue of Redbook magazine. [Flickr / Charm and Poise]
Text last updated on 16 September 2019 | This may well be my favorite garage in Provincetown; modest, practical, hand-crafted. It abuts an 1880s cottage. The two were once the rear buildings of a lot fronting on 594 Commercial Street. Lauren W. Cook (1902-1961), a commercial artist and the founder of what is now the Provincetown Tennis Club, 288 Bradford Street, bought this property in 1937 from Camilla Cook, the widow of Herbert S. Cook — and evidently no relation to Lauren. Born in Iowa and educated at the College of Fine Arts in Syracuse (now Syracuse University: College of Visual & Performing Arts), Lauren married Marion M. Moran, who was also an accomplished commercial artist. Lauren worked in New York as an illustrator for publishing houses and advertising agencies, but it seems that his first love was tennis.
In 1939, he and Marion organized the East End Club, a place to play tennis and socialize, in the former home of the Tennis Club of Provincetown — which had been founded in 1924. (The Tennis Club of Provincetown is not corporately related to the Provincetown Tennis Club, even though it occupied the same building.) Lauren Cook bought the Tennis Club of Provincetown property in 1939, including its 111-foot-1½-inch swath to the Atlantic Ocean and its five-foot-wide right-of-way down to Provincetown Harbor, meaning that he owned land from shore to shore, except where the tracks of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad cut through.
The Cooks moved to Provincetown full-time in 1942, occupying the house at 594 Commercial. Their club merged in 1946 with the older Provincetown Yacht Club to create the Provincetown Yacht and Tennis Club. It could make a claim to being a boating organization since it was granted a narrow right-of-way leading from inland Bradford Street 400 feet down to the harbor. Nonetheless, it dropped the “Yacht” from its name in 1964 to become the present-day Provincetown Tennis Club.
Lauren Cook devised a town crier design for a 48-page booklet about Provincetown, written by Howard Mitcham and published by the Chamber of Commerce in 1951.
The Cooks’ son, Stephen B. Cook (1932-2013), followed his father into the College of Fine Arts at Syracuse in 1950. He was, his obituary said, a commercial artist, commercial fisherman, and realtor. Stephen enjoyed painting boats and seascapes, and belonged to the Beachcombers Club, though he moved to New Bedford in the late 1970s.
Stephen’s children, Stephanie (Cook) Barrett and Lauren J. Cook, sold the “front” part of the parcel — 594 Commercial Street — for $975,000 to buyers from Florida in 2014.
“The cottage property is all we have kept,” Barrett told me in 2019. Happily, she said, “Our grandmother’s garden is still blooming!”
She added: “What I love is walking down the little right-of-way from Bradford to Commercial with my grandson, Gage, heading to the beach. He makes five (!) generations of our motley little crew in the cottage. And playing on the same beach. We’re lucky ducks, that’s all I know.”
Stephanie Barrett wrote on 26 August 2019: My grandparents bought the cottage and garage in the 1930s. They bought shore-to-shore. I guess that’s how it worked back then. The cottage property is all we have kept. Our grandmother’s garden is still blooming!
¶ Republished on 25 October 2023.
287 Bradford Street on the Town Map, showing property lines.