Provincetown Commons | Former Provincetown Community Center | Former Governor Bradford School (Second)
The Provincetown Commons. [2021, Dunlap]
Second Governor Bradford School
The sixth grade class at the second Governor Bradford School in 1941. [Lisa King / Facebook / My Grandfathers Provincetown / 7 May 2017]
Governor Bradford students collected more than 20 tons of paper as part of the national scrap drive of 1945. [Ben Kettlewell / Facebook / Provincetown Diaspora / 21 January 2023]
Governor Bradford School class in 1948. [Breten Kaeselau Bryden / Facebook / My Grandfathers Provincetown / 8 October 2014]
Fifth grade in 1950. [Ben Kettlewell / Facebook / Provincetown Diaspora / 21 May 2021]
Salvador Vasque’s third grade class, 1950. “Mrs. Nickerson was our school teacher,” he wrote. [Salvador R. Vasques III / Facebook / My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection / 9 May 2021]
Sixth grade, around 1950. [Ben Kettlewell / Facebook / Provincetown Diaspora / 17 June 2021]
Salvador Vasques’s sixth grade class, 1953. “Mrs. Lopes was our school teacher,” he wrote. [Salvador R. Vasques III / Facebook / My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection / 14 September 2014]
Above and below: “My cursive Handwriting and slant lettering student’s fold from Grade 6,” Salvador Vasques explained. [Salvador R. Vasques III / Facebook / My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection / 2 April 2017]
An undated photo of the school by John D. Bell. [Salvador R. Vasques III / Facebook / My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection / 13 December 2016]
Provincetown Community Center
The building is much larger than it appears from the street. [2011, Dunlap]
Rear entrance. [2011, Dunlap]
A lunette by Jay Critchley, titled [?]. [2011, Dunlap]
Entrance to the center. [2011, Dunlap]
Mural by [?]. [2011, Dunlap]
There were a number of pieces of furniture by Peter Hunt or his protégés. [2011, Dunlap]
Details of the Hunt school table. [2011, Dunlap]
The table is in the right background. [2011, Dunlap]
Peter Hunt (or protégé), pressed into service as a trophy case. [2011, Dunlap]
The Community Center in its final decrepitude. [2016, Dunlap]
Renovation work under way. [2018, Dunlap]
Nearing completion. [2018, Dunlap]
Painting by [?] in the Commons Lounge. [2022, Dunlap]
The nameplate from the Community Center and a painting by Arthur Egeli in the Commons Lounge. [2021, Dunlap]
The Commons Lounge was designed and donated by Ken Fulk. [2021, Dunlap]
A painting by Sacha Richter in the Commons Lounge. [2021, Dunlap]
The painting in the foreground is by [?]. [2021, Dunlap]
Right: Jill Stauffer, the executive director of The Commons, and Pete Hocking, its president. [2021, Dunlap]
Fever Dreams by Jay/Me (Jay Critchley and Jaime deSousa), in the Community Room during the “Two for One” show of 2021. [Dunlap]
Inside Fever Dreams, looking up. [2021, Dunlap]
Momma, by Donna Pomponio and Jimmy Lee Curtis, in the Community Room. [2021, Dunlap]
The Community Room during the “Two for One” show, featuring collaborative works by artists like Fever Dreams and Momma. [2021, Dunlap]
The Edie Windsor Exhibition Hall, named for a hero of the same-sex marriage movement who died in 2017. [2021, Dunlap]
Donna Pomponio, one of three painters sharing the Champa R. Vaid Studio in 2021. Champa Vaid was a painter, poet, and the mother of Urvashi Vaid, a pioneering LGBTQ activist. [Dunlap]
Pomponio’s space in the Vaid studio. [2021, Dunlap]
Paul Rizzo, another painter in the Vaid studio, showed a recent work to Pete Hocking, president of the Commons. [2021, Dunlap]
Rizzo’s work space. [2021, Dunlap]
Rizzo at work on a painting titled [?]. [2021, Dunlap]
The painter Maura Cunningham, who shared the Vaid studio with Pomponio and Rizzo. [2021, Dunlap]
One of Cunningham’s works, titled [?]. [2021, Dunlap]
Cunningham and Rizzo at work. [2021, Dunlap]
A show of assemblages and constructions by Kurt Reynolds occupied the Community Room in 2022. In the right foreground is Repairing the Net. [Dunlap]
Seedpod by Reynolds dominates the foreground. [2022, Dunlap]
As the Sea Goes Silent is the largest of these Reynolds constructions. It is nearly three feet long. [2022, Dunlap]
Jay McDermott’s paintings filled Windsor hall in 2022. [Dunlap]
Cody Sullivan, in the center of the couch, conducted an improvisational history of Provincetown involving his listeners. [2022, Dunlap]
Members of the Provincetown Writers Group — Peter Robert Cook, Avis Johnson, Judy Dutra, Anika Costa, Mel Joseph, and Phoebe Otis — gave a reading of their recent work in 2022. Cook is in the foreground. [Dunlap]
The audience was rapt. The voices of truly local writers who know the town so well are rarely given a forum these days. [2022, Dunlap]
Left: Avis Johnson. Right: Peter Robert Cook. [2022, Dunlap]
From the right: Johnson, Judy Dutra, Mel Joseph, Phoebe Otis, Cook (at the lectern), and Anika Costa. [2022, Dunlap]
Home page of the website as it appeared in 2023. [provincetowncommons.org]
The Colonial Revival-style New Governor Bradford School rose from the ashes of the original. The principal until 1942 was Jennie May Barton, who also taught mathematics. Nearly 100 pupils were enrolled here before they moved to the Veterans Memorial Elementary School, which opened in 1955.
The building reopened as the Provincetown Community Center in 1956, under the charge of the town Recreation Commission. Susan Leonard told me: “Its primary focus was after-school programs for Provincetown school children, offering up a host of arts and classes: arts and crafts classes, Ping Pong, Camp Fire Girls and Boy Scouts; the halls echoing with the voices of what could easily be a hundred kids. The Friday night dance was the ‘place to be’ for P.H.S. teens and was likely the site of everyone’s first real date.”
This was also the birthplace in the winter of 1971 of the Outer Cape Repertory Film Society, founded by the artist Raymond Elman, who showed 16-millimeter prints. “My proudest moment was concocting a double feature of Orson Welles’s Macbeth and Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood,” he told me in 2013.
The Community Center moved in 2013 to the Veterans Memorial Elementary School.
For four years after the move, the future of the Bradford Street building was unclear. A plan under which the developer James Savko would have been allowed to acquire this property in exchange for the Winslow Farm parcel on 44-48 Winslow Street was rejected 168-to-110 at a Special Town Meeting in 2016.
But the seeds of the Provincetown Commons were being sown at the same. The artist Karen Cappotto, a member of the municipal Economic Development Committee, was speaking one day with Mark Hatch, a member of the Finance Committee. “Somehow, the conversation swung into year-round economic opportunity,” as Hatch recalled it.1 “I said, ‘Do you know how many artists come to me who would love to teach classes, or would love to have an event and don’t have any place to do it.'”
Town Manager David Panagore encouraged Cappotto to put together a proposal for reusing the Community Center. Together with Hatch, Cappotto enlisted the artist Pete Hocking and Rik Ahlberg, founder and proprietor of Pedal Ptown Bike Tours. They conducted a web survey. “Survey results came back with half of the respondents wanting artists’ studios, and the other half asking for co-working and meeting spaces,” Paul Benson wrote in the Banner.2
On 9 January 2017, Provincetown Commons was incorporated, with Cappotto as president and chair, Hatch as treasurer, and Ahlberg as clerk and secretary. The initial board of directors included those three, plus Hocking, plus Debbie Nadolney, Michael Field, and — importantly — Terrence Meck. He is the president and cofounder of the Palette Fund, a philanthropy that, by its own description, “places a priority on funding collaborative partnerships among organizations that strengthen the health and leadership of the LGBTQ and Provincetown, Mass., community.” Meck pledged $250,000 to the Commons project. The fund traces itself to Rand Harlan Skolnick, Meck’s partner, heir to the Solgar vitamins business, who died in 2008.
The Select Board chose the Commons proposal, by a vote of 4-to-0, on 23 January 2017. (The other plan on the table was offered by Ronald Rudnick and John Ciluzzi, who proposed a 78-bed seasonal workforce dormitory.3) Provincetown Commons Inc. entered into a 99-year lease with the Town, at annual rent of $30,000. The project was awarded a $100,000 grant under the Community Preservation Act for the exterior renovation of the building, which began in late 2017, followed by interior renovations in 2018.
The Commons officially opened on 4 February 2019. In August, Benson reported in the Banner, “All the studios are full with seven artists, each having short-term residencies in the shared studio spaces. In addition, a colorful array of nonprofits, individuals and groups have occupied the business spaces.” At this writing, in 2023, Meck is the chair of the Commons board of directors. Hocking is the president, Mike Dillon is the treasurer, Lynn Koppelman is the secretary, and Jill Stauffer is the executive director.
¶ Last updated on 1 April 2023. In progress.
1 “Creating Provincetown Commons; A Community Center Heart Transplant,” by Brian Tarcy, Cape Cod Wave Magazine, 17 February 2017.
2 “The Commons: An Uncommon Mix of Art and Business,” by Paul Benson, Provincetown Banner, 5 August 2019, Page 1.
3 “Artists Take on Community Center,” by Katy Ward, Provincetown Banner, 3 February 2017, Page 1.
44-46 Bradford Street on the Town Map, showing property lines.