Provincetown Welding Works
The amazingly animate yard of the Kacergis family’s Provincetown Welding Works looks like a Tim Burton movie come to three-dimensional life. The works were established in 1946 by Clarence Kacergis (born 1916). “At first, he imagined a simple welding shop until several Provincetown artists and sculptors looked to stretch themselves and embrace metal as a heightened form of expression,” Gerry Desautels wrote. (“Forging a Dynasty in Steel,” The Banner, Oct. 16, 2003.) Among them was Chaim Gross. In the present day, Desautels continued: “Maritime objects, fauna, flora and Cape characters — strumming musicians, rowing sailors and sawing woodsmen — are depicted in quirky Kacergis style throughout the chock-a-block shop.” Picture essay and more history »
The Gingerbread Gothic house, its remarkable occupants and its view over the rooftops of Lovetts Court have made this one of the most depicted places in town. The house was built c1850 by Capt. Caleb Cook, who made watch lubricant in the corner building. E. Ambrose Webster acquired it in 1900. His Summer School of Painting was at 463 Commercial Street but his own studio was here. After he died in 1935, his widow, Georgianna (Rodgers) Webster, leased the studio to the artist Gordon Hamm. She died in 1941. The property passed to her nephew, Karl Rodgers Sr., whose daughter, Delorma (Rodgers) Morton, owned it until 2008. More pictures and history»
At the heart of this house is a fish shed, built c1880 by the H. & S. Cook Company. It was turned into a barber shop that stood opposite Town Hall before being rolled here. Isaac Henry Caliga (1857-1944), a painter who studied in Munich, and his wife, Elizabeth Howland (1877-1960), who came to town in 1912 to study with Charles W. Hawthorne, lived here. Picture essay and more history »
A glimpse up the hillside might persuade you that some great Arts-and-Crafts Adirondack lodge had drifted down to the Cape, but then you realize it’s too crisp to be an antique. In fact, Richard P. “Rick” Wrigley‘s home was constructed above a complex called Provincetown Bungalow Haven, which includes four other houses that evoke both Stick and Shingle styles. One is a private dwelling. The others — Porch House, Treeviews and Bungalow — can be rented.
All were designed by Wrigley, a well-known furniture maker (represented in the Smithsonian American Art Museum) who acknowledges the tension in his work between artistry and craft. “I want it to be beautiful,” he said in a 2001 interview, “but it has to be functional.”
The name of Mark Rothko (1903-1970) is not commonly associated with Provincetown, but he was indeed here for a few years, beginning in 1958, when he bought this house. He couldn’t sail, he didn’t like the beach and he sunburned badly, James E. B. Breslin noted in Mark Rothko: A Biography. In 1963, Rothko sold this place to the artists Tony Vevers (1926-2008) and Elspeth Halvorsen. By then, Vevers was well established, having had a solo show at the seminal Sun Gallery in 1958. He was one of the founders of the Long Point Gallery and was deeply involved in the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. In the 2008 Provincetown Arts, the artist Tabitha Vevers said of the Bradford Street studio, “It was where my father’s enduring love of life, and the sometimes humble beauty of the world around him, came together as art.”
Long Point Post Office
The most important surviving civic building of the Long Point settlement, its Post Office, was built around 1830. What we see from the street was originally the rear of the structure. It lived a distinguished second life as the studio of the painter Herman Maril (1908-1986), whose work was championed in the 1930s by the collector Duncan Phillips. Maril acquired this property in the late 1950s and then, working with the artist Chester Pfeiffer, added a second-floor studio with north-facing windows, extending from the back of the house over a patio. Maril, Karl Knaths and Milton Avery collegially exchanged studio visits every summer, his widow Esta Maril recalled.
Provincetown Picture Framing
Here’s a ramshackle-looking business that the old art colony would still happily recognize: Provincetown Picture Framing. The pedigree is more than shingle-deep. Shaun D. Pfeiffer, artisan, picture framer and proprietor of this little shop, was born next door. He is the son of the artist Chester “Chet” Pfeiffer and a grandson of the artist Heinrich Pfeiffer (1874-1956), who turned a waterside shed into the Artists Theatre, which became the Provincetown-Playhouse-on-the-Wharf.
Most towns don’t have a single octagonal house. Provincetown has two. There’s the landmark at 74 Commercial. Then there’s the Octagon, a remarkably organic creation designed by Jonathan Sinaiko and built as his home. Sinaiko, filmmaker and craftsman, is the son of the artists Avrom “Arlie” Sinaiko (1902-1984) and Suzanne Sinaiko (1918-1998). In 1959, they acquired a “great lot” — harbor to ocean — from the estate of Joseph W. Sears. Though subsequently truncated by the Cape Cod National Seashore, the property still comfortably holds an entire compound, called Hideaway Hill. One building houses Shore Galleries, which can claim descent from Donald Witherstine’s renowned Shore Studio Gallery, 47 Commercial, through Fred Hemley, a photographer and Witherstine’s grandson. Hemley, Sinaiko and Muffin Ray opened the gallery in 2006, devoting it largely to Provincetown artists. First among equals would be Arthur Cohen, whose summer home is nearby.
The east and west lot lines of this property, if extended to the Atlantic, encompass the only privately-owned dune shack in the Cape Cod National Seashore. That’s because the property once did extend to the dune shack. Imagine: a house on Bradford Street with a back yard on the ocean! Both the shack and this family compound belong to the Malicoat clan, art-colony aristocracy, many of whom have lived or summered here. They include Florence (Bradshaw) Brown (±1870-1957); her daughter, the graphic artist Barbara Haven (Brown) Malicoat, who illustrated the Walking Tour booklets and is pictured at left with her husband, the painter Philip Cecil Malicoat (1908-1981), who studied with Charles W. Hawthorne and Henry Hensche, formed a triumvirate with Bruce McKain and George Yater, and bought this property.
Their son Conrad Malicoat, is a sculptor whose signature work is flowing brick chimneys and walls. His wife is Anne Lord and their daughters are Robena Malicoat, an artist who continues to use her grandfather Philip’s studio; Galen Malicoat and Bronwyn Malicoat. Conrad’s sister, Martha (Malicoat) Dunigan (±1934-2001); her husband, Philip Dunigan; and their daughters, Orin Dunigan, Breon Dunigan and Seanad Dunigan have also used the compound.
There is a great bond between Provincetown and the Art Students League of New York, and Arthur Cohen is one of the most prominent links in that chain. He was at the League in 1950 and again in 1960 (having already studied with Edwin Dickinson at Cooper Union), shortly before arriving in town for the first time. Cohen — and his exquisitely understated landscapes — have been part of the scene ever since. He is married to the concert pianist Elizabeth Rodgers, who is a frequent subject of his work. They acquired this property in 1985. Cohen’s studio burned in 2008, but he was in New York at the time.
Edwin Reeves Euler Building
Constructed in 1923 by the family of Frank Days Sr., owners of the lumberyard on Pearl Street where the Fine Arts Work Center evolved, 4 Brewster has been used ever since as housing and studio space for artists — like Jim Forsberg (1919-1991), Ross Moffett (1888-1971), Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), Seong Moy, Jim Peters, Myron Stout (1908-1987) and George Yater (1910-1993). The artist Edwin Reeves Euler (1896-1982) bought it in 1945 and, with Frances Euler, operated it as Euler Studios. More pictures and history»
Talk about paintings lining the walls! Here, they really did. After Louis Lima and Jerome Crepeau bought this barnlike house in 2002 and their renovation contractors began tearing out interior walls, they discovered 130 paintings on Upton board — many of them impressionistic “mudhead” portrait studies — nailed to the outside walls as insulation. These were a tangible reminder of the building’s history as a studio used by Henry Hensche (1901-1992), arguably first among equals of the disciples of Charles W. Hawthorne; then by James Kirk Merrick (1905-1985), a student of Hensche’s; and then by Lois Griffel, another Hensche student, who continued his Cape Cod School of Art nearby until 2000. Lima and Crepeau salvaged all but six of the paintings, which they left in situ as artistic Easter eggs, for the pleasure of a future owner to discover.
For more than half of a century – much of that time here – Lillian Orlowsky (1914-2007) and William Freed (1904-1984) shared their lives and their evolution as abstract artists. They “left a strong stamp, both socially and artistically, on the art worlds of New York and Provincetown,” The Boston Globe said in 2008. More history»
In the mid-19th century, this unsheltered stretch was peppered with rude huts, built by the Massachusetts Humane Society, where shipwreck survivors might ride out the storm. But most crew members marooned on the sand bars couldn’t even get as far as the beach, perishing instead as their vessels were torn apart beneath them. So the government took a more proactive role, begininng in the 1870s, through the U.S. Life-Saving Service. More history
Quiet Carnes Lane is home to the indomitable, inimitable, irrepressible Jay Critchley (b 1947), an artist, political activist, civic advocate and all-around sui generic figure; one of those people whom you almost cannot imagine thriving anywhere else. His works have included imaginatively stinging rebukes to the gentrification and commodification of the town; and his anger is evident that A-list arrivistes seem so eager to turn their backs on any references to the town’s transgressive past. But Critchley is no cynical bomb-tosser. His devotion to Provincetown is especially evident in the event with which he’s now most closely associated: the annual Provincetown Harbor Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla, which has raised over two million dollars for local AIDS services, women’s health providers and youth organizations. More pictures and history»
Carver Court, a little midblock passage formerly known as Court Place, is very close to the Gifford House. In fact, the Gifford family was connected with this property until 1913, when it was acquired by Margaret J. Ramos, who owned it until 1929. She and her husband sold the house that year to Betty Lockett Spencer, the wife of the prominent precisionist painter Niles Spencer (1893-1952). To my eyes, anyway, Spencer’s enormously appealing work combines Stuart Davis’s joyful cubism with Charles Sheeler’s sharp focus on industrial landscapes. His rendition of the Unitarian-Universalist Meeting House is an enduringly fresh take on that beautiful — but clichéd — icon. Even more delightful a surprise is Spencer’s take on the scrolled bracket over a doorway. Both Universalist Church, Provincetown and Provincetown Corner are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Spencer had a studio in the former shirt factory at 26 Court Street, but he was using this house in the 1930s and perhaps until the early ’40s, when he and Betty were divorced. His death merited an obituary in The New York Times.
By 1946, Betty’s new husband, Ernest L. Perry, a native of São Miguel in the Azores, had set up his public accountancy practice at 3 Carver Court, offering bookkeeping, auditing, and income tax preparation; as well as help with Social Security, withholding and unemployment claims. He died six months after Spencer, in November 1952. His business telephone number, 31, was perpetuated as her home phone number, 487-0031, after Provincetown switched to automated dialing.
In 1982, following Betty Perry’s death, the property passed to the couple’s two daughters, Doris and Muriel, and their husbands, Ralph J. Westnedge and Charles Veloza. Veloza’s estate sold 3 Carver Street in 2013 to Scott Watters and Richard D. Porreca, a residential and commercial construction project manager and an illustrator whose pen-and-ink line drawings of Provincetown architecture can seen on the Facebook page, Inked Well Illustrations.
Porreca told me in 2015 that he and Watters had found pieces of Spencer’s artwork in the attic of the home and, during a renovation, evidence that the house had been constructed on a foundation of ship’s masts.
With his occasionally psychedelic palette and his boldly juxtaposed forms, Oliver Newberry Chaffee Jr. (1881-1944) was a “modern before modernism was popular,” Ross Moffett said. But his accomplished Fauvism — good enough to get him into the famous 1913 Armory Show in New York — could not disguise what looks like tremendous affection for his subjects. As a result of their exuberant but disciplined spirit, Chaffee’s century-old paintings hold up remarkably well; better, certainly, than those by many of his contemporaries. His other artistic legacy was as the husband of Ada Gilmore, a watercolorist and printmaker, many of whose works complement his. This plain house on Central Street is where Chaffee lived through the early 1940s. More pictures and history»
The year 1944 saw the death of two giants who lived across the street from one another: Oliver Chaffee from the world of art and, from the mariners’ realm, Capt. George H. Bickers of the United States Life Saving Service, who lived at 6 Central Street, a structure that dates to about 1830. “Captain Bickers belonged to the now fast-vanishing race of men who spent their lives intimately with the seas in the days of sailing vessels with all the dangers attendant upon that traffic,” The Advocate said in his obituary. He came from a time before the Coast Guard’s mechanized equipment, “when rescues were made with brawn and sheer, downright courage.” More pictures and history»
Rich in associations but hard to see from the road, 8 Commercial Street was once home to the abstract painter Karl Knaths, whom The New York Times called “a musician in color”; his wife, Helene; and her sister, Agnes Weinrich, who cofounded the New York Society of Women Artists. Out of sight and off limits to the public is the tiny spartan shack in which Tennessee Williams spent time in 1944 while he was finishing The Glass Menagerie. Harold Norse, who would later write Memoirs of a Bastard Angel, lived with him for six weeks. Williams signed his name to a door and a wall here. More pictures and history»
This was the summer home and studio of Jack Tworkov (1900-1982), whom The New York Times called “one of the most respected artists of the New York School.” Tworkov emigrated from Poland in 1913, worked with John Dos Passos in the 30s and took up Abstract Expressionism in the 40s. He bought this house in 1958 and added a studio. Tworkov’s students included Jennifer Bartlett, Jonathan Borofsky and Richard Serra. He died in 1982 and is buried in the Town Cemetery with his wife, Rachel; not far from Stanley and Elise Kunitz, who were neighbors on this side as well. More pictures and history»
This was once the densest, most complex and most poignant garden in town — by design. The garden, together with an extraordinary body of poetry, was the life work of the poet Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006), a founder of the Fine Arts Work Center. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1959, the Bollingen Prize in 1987, the National Medal of the Arts in 1993, the National Book Award in 1995 and then, in 2000, at the age of 95 — when most people think about slowing down a bit — he was named Poet Laureate of the United States. Kunitz spent almost 50 years in Provincetown. “I conceived of the garden as a poem in stanzas,” he told The New York Times in 2005. “Each terrace contributes to the garden as a whole in the same way each stanza in a poem has a life of its own.” More history »
A splash of pink, this 1850s house at 52 Commercial Street is known as “La Principessa.” It was here that John Whorf, a water-colorist whom The Advocate called the “jewel in the crown of many noted Provincetown artists,” rode out the hurricane of 1944. Though born in Winthrop, he came to town at a young age to visit his grandfather Isaiah. Handsome and worldly, he became a consummate town insider, serving as Skipper of the Beachcombers, but was also well-known off-Cape. More pictures and history»
“Tod Lindenmuth should know the meaning of Provincetown,” The New York Times declared in 1927. “For years he has been absorbing the jumble of its wharves and streets and resolving it into unified compositions in wood-block prints and paintings.” And for 15 of those years — from 1925 to 1940 — he and his wife, the illustrator Elizabeth Boardman Warren (1886-1980), lived at 56 Commercial Street, which was built in the 1840s and still shows a lot of handsome Greek Revival detail. Lindenmuth left a handful of unsigned studies in the house. They are still in the hands of Margaret and Donald Murphy, whose family has owned the property since 1954 and rents out Lindenmuth’s studio and a comfortable two-story former salt shed under the name Our Summer Place. (More than one guest over the years must have taken satisfaction from honestly telling friends, “Oh, we’re just going to Our Summer Place on the Cape.”) More pictures and history
Alice Brock Studio | R & R Place
Anyone of a Certain Age will almost certainly share the author’s quiet pleasure in knowing that Alice M. (Pelkey) Brock, the Alice of Alice’s Restaurant, wound up practicing her delightful art right here in Provincetown. She moved to Cape Cod in 1979 and declared three decades later that she was grateful for every “beautiful day in paradise” (Jane Roy Brown, “After Alice’s Restaurants,” The Boston Globe, 24 February 2008). “Thank God for the National Seashore,” she said. “There’s still the beautiful light, and there are still a few crackpots left. I never want to go anywhere. People say, ‘Don’t you want to go away in the winter?’ The only place I would want to go would be a place like this, and I’m here now.” More pictures and history
William Maynard Studio
Built as Sol Nickerson’s workshop, this small shed-style cottage at 72A Commercial Street was once F. Coulton Waugh’s painting studio. (Waugh and his wife also operated shops in 72 Commercial Street.) One of Waugh’s best known and most delightful compositions — a cross between his work as a painter and as an illustrator — is A Map of Cape Cod (1926). The building is now the studio of William Maynard (b 1921). A sign in the yard invites passersby to watch Maynard at work. ArkArt‘s thumbnail biography, by Donnell Walker, says: “William Maynard is a graduate of the school of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He also studied for two years at Massachusetts College of Art. More pictures and history»
Frederick Waugh – Hans Hofmann Studio
Doric columns, serious and sturdy, hold up a prominent pediment that marks this exceptionally handsome facade from the early 1800s. For a century or so, 76 Commercial Street was owned by the Nickerson and Freeman families. More pictures and history»
Phyllis Handwrought Jewelry
The plaque on 84 Commercial Street states that it was built in 1797, a date accepted by the Historic District Survey with the considerable caveat that the building was “heavily altered over time.” Among other features, it gained a full-length shed dormer and lost its porch. For about 35 years, until 1947, Emma Agnes Cudois had run a millinery shop out of her home here. It was also known for a time as the Wiletta House. Then, in 1966, Phyllis and Israel Sklar of New York moved their jewelry and gift store here from 407/379 Commercial Street. More pictures and history»
As you approach the Turn in Commercial Street from the east, you may think you’re being watched. You are. A bust of William Shakespeare has taken up more-or-less permanent residence in a second-floor window at No. 112. Year in and year out, window open or shut, the ghostly little Bard casts his eyes over the West End Rialto. More pictures and history»
Few narratives, fiction or nonfiction, convey as warm and intimate a sense of Provincetown as Frank X. Gaspar‘s beguiling novel, Leaving Pico (University Press of New England, 1999). The story — about a transformative summer in the life of a Portuguese-American family and about our common hunger for just enough nobility to hold our heads high — is centered on the West End home of its young narrator, Josie Carvalho. So it’s inevitable, if treacherous, to look at 119 Commercial Street, where Gaspar (b ±1946) grew up in the 1950s, and wonder just how much of this house is in Leaving Pico. “The book is not a memoir, nor is it sociology or history,” Gaspar said in an interview presented on the University Press of New England Web site. More pictures and history
“Six artists formed the Provincetown Printers in 1915, developing a unique method of woodcut printing, making single block or ‘white line’ prints,” Nyla Ahrens wrote in Provincetown: The Art Colony. “The method lent itself to personal cubist styles soon developed by Agnes Weinrich and Blanche Lazzell. By 1918 the enlarged group established a gallery on the site of the present Post Office and sent traveling shows through the United States, Canada and Europe.”
Now the Moffett House Inn bed-and-breakfast, this charmingly situated house was built around 1820 in the Federal style. The home of Ross Moffett and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett “was used by them for over 50 years as a residence and painting studio,” Josephine Del Deo wrote. “Although Moffett painted in several other locations until 1964, his wife used the premises for her work as a painter and illustrator during most of the period from 1933 to 1975. Ross Moffett was one of the deans of American painting and lived in Provincetown from 1913 to his death in 1971.” He was the author of Art in Narrow Streets (1964), an account of the development of the art scene in Provincetown in the early 20th century, which you can still find in local bookstores. More pictures and history»
Bill Evaul Studios and Gallery
The building was constructed in the middle decades of the 19th century and was shown as a paint shop in 1858. In the early 20th century, the property was owned by Jeremiah Atwood Rich (d 1932), who conducted the J. A. Rich grocery store for 50 years. (“Funeral Is Held For Mrs. M. J. Rich,” The Advocate, 17 June 1937.)
Hong Ting Wong (b ±1898), the artist and restaurateur responsible for the Cape Cod Tea Garden, at 327 Commercial Street, and Wong’s Restaurant, at 334 Commercial Street, also operated Wong’s Cozy Den Coffee Shop in this building in the late 1930s, serving fried chicken, chicken chop suey and chicken chow mein. More pictures and history»
Blanche Lazzell Cottage
It’s been a full decade now, but it’s still hard to think that a building of such historic significance — the longtime waterfront studio of Blanche Lazzell (1878-1956), one of the most significant artists of Provincetown, which was depicted on the cover of 1989 monograph Blanche Lazzell — could have slipped under the radar and on to the rubble pile in 2002. More pictures and history»
Among the last of the old, working, waterfront art studios in Provincetown is that used by the painter Heather Bruce (b 1957). Its lineage is impeccable, as it was constructed by her great-grandfather, Frank A. Days (±1849-1937), who was the town’s premier builder and the man whose lumber and coal yard — now the Fine Arts Work Center — once housed artists’ studios. Though it appears to be part of Angels’ Landing, 353½ (or 353C) Commercial Street occupies its own separate tax lot and is still owned by the Days/Bruce family. More pictures and history»