On a summer's night, the Crown & Anchor can't be missed. In fact, it can't be ignored. Not only is it one of P-town's most prominent facades, with its grand columned portico and tower, but performers from the Cabaret—usually in drag—boisterously regale passers-by. The hotel business is a sideline; this is the town's "largest entertainment complex," true to its roots in the mid-19th century, when Timothy P. Johnson built the Central House (its first name) as a public hall for shows and entertainment, a bowling alley and—quite as important—a saloon.
Allen Reed purchased the Central from Johnson's heirs in 1868, enlarged it, added sleeping rooms and attached a bowling alley, so that the Central was the largest hotel in town, extending over the water on pilings. Reed was succeeded in 1881 by his son, James A. Reed, the town customs officer, who conducted business "from a room fitted in the building for that purpose."