What do a 19th century sea captain, Eugene O'Neill, the town librarian, and a found figurehead have in common? According to the ever-informative Building Provincetown, the answer can be found at 476 Commercial Street.
Built in 1850, the East End property was home to Captain Henry Cook throughout the mid- and late 19th century. In April 1867, a whaling schooner in Cook's fleet "came across an eight-foot-long figurehead, provenance unknown." The crew took her aboard, cut her in half and brought her back to PTown where she was eventually placed atop the boss man's abode. A few decades later, the captain's granddaughter, Abbie Cook Putnam (±1870-1956), would make 476 Commercial Street her home. It was in her role as town librarian from 1901 to 1935 that Putnam would get to know O'Neill, for better or worse. Here's how Building Provincetown sums up the battle:
For her, the fact that a 28-year-old playwright who showed up at the library in 1917 had achieved a bit of local renown was of no consequence. Eugene O'Neill wasn't a property owner, so Miss Putnam was not about to issue him a library card unless someone proper had vouched for him. When O'Neill showed up drunk at the library after winning the Pulitzer Prize, Miss Putnam tossed him out. Just how little love there existed between them became clear in 1924 with the appearance of his play, Desire Under the Elms. There is in that play an adulterous character who kills her own child. The character's name is Abbie Putnam.Yup, the pen is mightier than the sword. Anyway, these days the figurehead is a plastic replica and 476 Commercial Street houses adorable condominiums. Case in point, the Figurehead House's Unit 1, a 402-square-foot 1BR, 1BA. Renovated in 2010, the spread now features an electric fireplace, built-ins, and "peaks of the water." The complex, which charges $150 for HOA fees, offers private storage, common laundry, and parking. Plus, pets and weekly rentals are allowed. Unit 1 last changed hands in 2010 for $290,000 and hit the market this week asking $389,900.
which hit the market early this week was renovated
· Listing: 476 Commercial Street, Unit 1, Provincetown [Zillow]
· 476 Commercial Street [Building Provincetown]