Architecture History of Copper Fox 448 Commercial Street

This page is a work in progress. Last update: August 25, 2022.

– Jacky Abromitis

Copper Fox, or Solomon Bangs’ house, as it stands today, is a 5,000 square foot beautiful Greek Revival home. It has many additions over the years, and here I, Jacky Abromitis, will attempt to piece together the history of the house and the additions and contemporary changes made to it. We love this house. We honor the Bangs family. We do not want their history to be lost.

When purchased and renovated by John Gagliardi in 1997, John said he saw “1856” written on somewhere near the fireplace in the lowest level of the home. The rear of the fireplace – no longer functioning after his renovations – had been sheetrocked and finished. We cannot find that inscription.

I will be using photos, property deeds, maps, and more to try to piece together the history of the physical structure.

1866 Map

From 1880 Map of East End

This is near the current day Angel Foods, which was
“E. & E. K. Cook & Company, a mighty whaling and fishing ’empire'”. See more at Angel Foods “About”.

Current day 448 is not on this map, but it’s fascinating! Note: it is not to scale, and is not necessarily accurate with its locations relative to each other. However, it is very helpful.

First, this map appears to have been created by George Bryant. George was a walking encyclopedia of Provincetown East End history. I didn’t know him well. When we were breaking through the basement wall on the Bang’s Street side to create a bulkhead entrance, George came to take the bricks. He was known to “collect” any piece of history and keep them on his property. I’ve heard George’s respect and knowledge of history extended to not only all of Provincetown, but the Outer Cape, as well. See George’s obituary.

George’s map above: the bottom right hand corner indicates that he created it from “Location of all physical features on this view from: ‘Commissioners Map, Cape Cod Harbor, Massachusetts, surveyed under the direction of the Harbor Commissioners by A. Boschke, April 1867.'”

George’s creation of this map was copyright 1978 to George D. Bryant.

George also wrote, “The Port of Provincetown 1776-1900,” which is available through Digital Commonwealth. George says,

In 1851, according to Capt. Atwood, the first deepwater fish traps were driven around Provincetown, The Solomon Bangs family, whose homestead still stands at 448 Commercial Street; and whose wharf was where the Beachcombers stands, were prominent in this business for over 50 years.

(My emphasis added.)

Looking at the 1866 map, above, you can see Solomon Bangs’ wharf (#8), along with the wharf of William Bush (#9). The name Bush will appear again, below, looking at another map.

A few other notes:

#3 on George’s map is currently 463 Commercial Street, now a private home after it was The Flagship restaurant.

Also, You’ll note in the top right corner of George’s Bryant’s recreation of the 1866 harbor that he was rebuilding the “sea salt windmill”. It stood until 2021, when the retaining wall on the beach had to be restored. At that time, George’s “salt works” were removed. Read more about salt works at David Dunlap’s site.

1880 Map

1905 Map

1907 Map:

Deed transfers.

Provincetown Town Hall documentation.

Copper Fox, or Solomon Bangs’ house, as it stands today, is a 5,000 square foot beautiful Greek Revival home. It has many additions over the years. I, will attempt to piece together the history of the house and the additions and contemporary changes made to it. We love this house. We honor the Bangs family. We do not want their history to be lost.

When purchased and renovated by John Gagliardi in 1997, John said he saw “1856” written on somewhere near the fireplace in the lowest level of the home. The rear of the fireplace – no longer functioning after his renovations – had been sheetrocked and finished. We cannot find that inscription.

I will be using photos, property deeds, maps, and more to try to piece together the history of the physical structure.

1866 Map

This is near the current day Angel Foods, which was
“E. & E. K. Cook & Company, a mighty whaling and fishing ’empire'”. See more at Angel Foods “About”.

Current day 448 is not on this map, but it’s fascinating! Note: it is not to scale, and is not necessarily accurate with its locations relative to each other. However, it is very helpful.

First, this map appears to have been created by George Bryant. George was a walking encyclopedia of Provincetown East End history. I didn’t know him well. When we were breaking through the basement wall on the Bang’s Street side to create a bulkhead entrance, George came to take the bricks. He was known to “collect” any piece of history and keep them on his property. I’ve heard George’s respect and knowledge of history extended to not only all of Provincetown, but the Outer Cape, as well. See George’s obituary.

George’s map above: the bottom right hand corner indicates that he created it from “Location of all physical features on this view from: ‘Commissioners Map, Cape Cod Harbor, Massachusetts, surveyed under the direction of the Harbor Commissioners by A. Boschke, April 1867.'”

George’s creation of this map was copyright 1978 to George D. Bryant.

George also wrote, “The Port of Provincetown 1776-1900,” which is available through Digital Commonwealth. George says,

In 1851, according to Capt. Atwood, the first deepwater fish traps were driven around Provincetown, The Solomon Bangs family, whose homestead still stands at 448 Commercial Street; and whose wharf was where the Beachcombers stands, were prominent in this business for over 50 years.

(My emphasis added.)

Looking at the 1866 map, above, you can see Solomon Bangs’ wharf (#8), along with the wharf of William Bush (#9). The name Bush will appear again, below, looking at another map.

A few other notes:

#3 on George’s map is currently 463 Commercial Street, now a private home after it was The Flagship restaurant.

Also, You’ll note in the top right corner of George’s Bryant’s recreation of the 1866 harbor that he was rebuilding the “sea salt windmill”. It stood until 2021, when the retaining wall on the beach had to be restored. At that time, George’s “salt works” were removed. Read more about salt works at David Dunlap’s site.

1880 Map

The 1880 map is quite confusing. It appears as if there are 3 separate buildings on the property, including 2 where the house currently stands. This is a reminder that these maps were clearly hand drawn and therefore subject to human error.

There is nothing to indicate anything but the main part of this house was here in 1880. Greek Revival ruled Provincetown Architecture from 1820 – 1860, and 448 Commercial is clearly Greek Revival.

However, in light blue, there appears to be another building.

1905 Map

This is an important map. Most importantly, we see most of what is the current footprint of the house in the mid 1990s. There is the left addition – Unit 2 sunroom, the right smaller bump out – the 2 guest baths of Unit 2, and the tiny bump out in the bottom right corner. When John Gagliardi bought this in 1997, he told us there was a window there. He made it a door – and added what is now the large L-shaped front porch.

Why was that little addition put on the front of the house. It seems random and doesn’t add an entrance. We do not know why it was added to the original house.

In 1905, again we see the 3rd building, now with an “x” on it. Possibly a carriage barn?

]]

However, this is a postcard from 1905 according a Facebook group. The caption: “The first horse-drawn Accomodation Wagon owned by Mr. Frank L. Atkins in 1896, pictured here in 1905 looking up Bangs Street toward Clara Muller’s white house with two chimneys.”

While these Solomon Bangs buildings, behind the horse and carriage, were torn down (and this is now the location of Provincetown Art Association and Museum), it is very confusing is how it is possible to see 6 Bangs Street (formerly Klara Mueller’s house) from this angle without seeing the large rear addition to 448 Commercial Street.

Immediately in front of the horse’s head is what is 448A Commercial Street. Note the “A” after 448. It is techincally a single family cottage that is appended to 452 Commercial Street.

Whatever year this photo was taken, it seems clear the rear addition of 448 was not yet built.

The Facebook group called Genealogy CLUES- Dating Old Photographs agrees that the photo is from around 1905 based on the clothing and carriage styles.

So, there is a mystery. The addition appears on the map, but it is unclear how the entire rear section of 448 is not visible.

6 Bangs Street is behind tall arborvitae that were planted in 1997 when Klara Mueller objected to seeing the parking area of what would become Copper Fox.

There is a very unattractive addition that was made to 6 Bangs Street at some point. Here is what it looks like in August 2022:

This is an angle looking up Bangs that is more forgiving than the angle in the Accommodation Wagon photo. You can see the rear addition of 448 in this photo to the right of the red dashed lines. It should be even less visible from this angle.

1907 Map:

1912 Sanborn Map

This map indicates all the additions – except the front porch installed by John Gagliardi in 1997/1998 – were on the house by 1912.

Deed transfers.

(To be added.)

Provincetown Town Hall Documentation

(To be added.)

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: