“Built by Paul L. Bangs, 1798-1862, Mariner, Circa 1840,” the white-on-blue plaque tells you. What it doesn’t mention, however, is that a direct Bangs descendant was living here until 1955; not a bad span of family ownership, though by no means unheard of in these parts. This was also the Provincetown home of the artist Yeffe Kimball (1904/6-1978), who was renowned for bridging Native American and Modernist art even though — as it turned out — she wasn’t the least bit Native American. (Though she had studied with Fernand Léger.) It also housed a variety of art galleries in the 1950s and ’60s.
Paul Lombard Bangs, the builder of this house, was born in Truro, the son of Perez Bangs and Thankful Rich Lombard, according to David Kew’s enormously helpful Sacred Cod site. He married Peggy Dyer in 1801 and they had five children from 1824 to 1838, in birth order: Thankful, Paul, Louisa, Lucy and Elijah; presumably all of whom spent some time growing up in this house. I can’t yet trace the line between Paul Bangs and Samuel A. Bangs — indeed, the line may be very crooked; Bangs is a common name on the Cape — but Samuel’s daughter, Ada A. (Bangs) Quinn (±1865-1932), lived in this house, as did her daughter, Ada (Quinn) Lehsten (±1883-1955). That suggests a long Bangs family association with this property, which came to an end when Harry H. Lehsten, Ada’s widower, sold it in 1958.
One sale later, also in 1958, the house belonged to Yeffe V. Slatin, as Yeffe Kimball was known formally. This was headline news. And the headline read, “Oklahoma’s Outstanding Painter Purchases Home Here.” Steve Barrie rhapsodized (The Advocate, 14 August 1958):
Her American Indian heritage — she’s part Osage — is reflected not only in the brilliant colors of the desert and the soil of the southwest which she uses on her canvases but also in the braids she wears so becomingly that frame her small, madonna-like face. … Walter P. Chrysler Jr. owns 30 Kimball canvases. … A huge painting of the southwest called ‘Monument Valley’ is on view in the Provincetown Arts Festival. … Last year she revised the entire Indian section of the Book of Knowledge and was consultant for the Will Rogers TV show on American Indian art.
The problem with this lovely scenario, Bill Anthes wrote in Native Moderns: American Indian Painting, 1940-1960 (Duke University Press, 2006), is that Yeffe Kimball was in fact Effie Goodman. She was born 10 years earlier than she claimed, and in Kansas City, Kansas, not out in the Oklahoma wilderness. Her father was not named Other Good Man, but Othar Goodman. Kimball’s commitment to her assumed identity “extended beyond the art world into what many described as a sincere engagement with Native American political activism,” Anthes wrote, but her “Indian act brought a whiff of the exotic to a career that might otherwise have been unremarkable.”
While Kimball owned it, the house churned constantly with art. It served as a branch of Garelick’s Galleries of Detroit in 1958; as the Umberto Romano School of Art in 1959; as the Castellane Gallery, run by Richard Castellane and John Pless van Hess, in 1962 and 1963; as the Gull Gallery in 1964 and 1965; and as the Place Gallery in 1966. The house was sold in 1974 to Eva Stuart, who also owned the nearby Church of Christ, Scientist at one time. It is now a condo.