Cape Cod National Seashore | Back Shore

Mission Bell (Shack No. 5)

Mission Bell, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Mission Bell, by David W. Dunlap (2009).

Mission Bell is the popular name for this cottage on Professors Row, though the bell — a useful navigational landmark out in the dunes — was salvaged in 1955 not from a mission but from a one-room schoolhouse in Michigan. The shack was built by Dom Avila and Jake Loring in 1936 and bought in 1953 by Mildred Champlin and her husband, Nathaniel, a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and a lecturer at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Unlike most shoreline buildings, it has managed to stay in one place over the years; as has the Champlin family, which has continuously occupied the cottage for six decades, now under a stipulation of settlement with the government running for the lifetime of the Champlins’ children. It’s the shack closest to the wreck of H.M.S. Somerset.


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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