2 Commercial Street

2 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

2 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Commanding a view to Wellfleet, Castle Dune (or simply, the Castle) was purchased in 1936 by Dr. Carl Murchison, a renowned psychologist at Clark University. He and his wife, Dorothea, collected works by American artists, especially those connected with the town. Almost all were lost in 1956, when the house burned. In rebuilding three years later, the Murchisons created the town’s landmark of mid-century Modernism, a hilltop promontory inspired by Japanese temples and designed by TAC, The Architects Collaborative of Cambridge. A core for sleeping and dining is wrapped in glass and verandas, for sweeping views of land and sea. It’s frequently referred to as the “Gropius house,” because the most famous of TAC’s eight partners, Walter Gropius, worked with Murchison on concepts, then collaborated with Robert McMillan and Benjamin Thompson. Furnishings by Hans Wegner and Kaj Franck came from Design Research, or D|R, founded by Thompson as a service for TAC clients.

2 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

2 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

The house cost $358,000 (roughly $2.9 million today), in part because of its large expanses of thermopane glass, central air-conditioning, and exteriors of teak and cypress. The terrace, paved in terrazzo, was intended for dancing. The swimming pool included cabanas. A few months after a house-warming party attended by Frank Sinatra, among others, Dr. Murchison died in 1961. The property was acquired from Barbara Murchison in 2008 by Clifford Schorer of Southborough, Mass., who undertook an ambitious restoration in connection with the overall redevelopment of the 3.5-acre site as a subdivision. (See 6 Pilgrims’ Landing.)


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.

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