Of Charles Hawthorne’s many heirs, arguably none were as influential — at least not in Provincetown — as Henry Hensche. When Hawthorne died in 1930, the Cape Cod School of Art died with him. But Hensche sought to perpetuate the tradition by establishing the Cape School of Art that year. His students included Sal Del Deo, Ciro Cozzi, Edward Giobbi, Philip Malicoat, Bruce McKain, Romanos Rizk, and George Yater. In 1936, Hensche married the painter Ada Rayner and they lived and painted in this house, which Rayner designed as a Cape version of an English cottage. Jesse Meads supervised the construction. The couple lovingly ornamented the millwork and furnishings, like the bed pictured above. “The painter’s function,” Hensche said during World War II, “is to show people the wonder and beauty of the world, in the hope that they will strive to make it a little less of the hell hole it is.” Rayner died in 1985. In 1987, after a 57-year run, Hensche sold his school to Lois Griffel, who kept it going until 2003. He died in 1992.
The Rayner-Hensche home, 35 Conwell, was restored in 1999 and incorporated into the Hensche Lane condo complex by Edward “Ted” Malone of Community Housing Resource Inc. Artists who have had studio spaces in the project include Barbara Cohen, Mary DeAngelis, Pasquale Natale, and Marian Roth. Rabbi Howard Berman (pictured) and his husband Steven Littlehale purchased the Rayner-Hensche home in 2001 and have devoted themselves to making it a “virtual shrine,” Berman told me in 2013. “We have felt privileged to be the stewards of this beautiful home, with its great architectural detail and mystical atmosphere of warmth and welcome.”
More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.