Not much imagination is needed to picture 200 Bradford Street, built around 1850, as a barn or a stable. At the end of the 19th century, it was part of a complex of buildings serving H. & S. Cook & Company, a large shipping and fishing enterprise that had its own 1,000-foot-long wharf at what is now 481 Commercial Street.
An 1880 atlas shows a stable at the head of Cook Street (No. 200), a fish house immediately to the west, and a wagon house west of that. In 1895, Adelaide O. (Cook) Putnam; her husband, A. Louis Putnam; and Abigail R. Cook sold the property for $300 to Prince I. Freeman — one of the many Prince Freemans descended from Mercy (Prence) Freeman, herself descended from Gov. Thomas Prence of Plymouth Colony and William Brewster of the Mayflower — and Maj. John Freeman. According to A Book About the Artists, by Nancy W. Paine Smith, Freeman used the stable as a barn.
Its days as a landmark of the art colony began in 1918 when Harriet Adams Miller (1880-1960), the wife of the American Impressionist Richard E. Miller (1875-1943), purchased it from Freeman. Smith said the Millers had been drawn to the property by “the willows and the little hollow behind them; a fertile little hollow, a sheltered little hollow which defies the winter winds, and very early in the spring brightens the yard with pussy willows and green grass.”
Richard Miller’s studio was located in the smaller structure at No. 200A, to the east of the main house, which can still be glimpsed through the arched gateway on Bradford Street. Of this building, Smith wrote that it had been brought across the harbor by scow from Long Point. “The big pine timbers, now brown as a nut, are fastened together by wooden pins,” she wrote. She added that the walls had been heightened to accommodate the mural panels Miller painted for the Missouri State Capitol, including Assembling of the First Legislature. “For the historical subjects depicted, Provincetown young women acted as models,” she wrote, meaning there might be some familiar faces out there in Jefferson City.
We’re lucky to have a detailed description of the Miller property from the January 1937 issue of The American Home, which makes it sound idyllic. The article describes the residence as a former carriage house, which is not necessarily a contradiction of the earlier description of it as a barn. It also makes it sound as if the barn door or carriage door was originally on Bradford Street, which may explain what seems today like the odd proportioning of the south facade.
A hedge now shields it from passing traffic, picket gates open into the yard at either end of the house, and in the rear there are French windows opening onto a wee flagged terrace, a stretch of grassy turf, and a garden pool under the willow, with Mr. Miller’s atelier, where he spends many busy hours, close at hand. …
After closing up the wide doorway, which originally opened on the street, and clapboarding to match the rest of the exterior, windows were cut where necessary … an outside chimney was built against the center of the end opposite the ell … an entrance doorway arranged at its right and another directly across in the other end. The harness room ell became the kitchen, and the upper floor … was partitioned off to provide for bedrooms and bath.
… [I]t has been found desirable to add a small room at the rear in the angle between the ell and the main house to protect the rear entrance from the winds which sweep down across the dunes. The ell has also been extended to provide for a breakfast nook with a fireplace at the end, which is so delightfully inviting as to cause one to wish that every household might have a similar one to enjoy the year around.
A native of St. Louis, Miller studied at the College of Art at Washington University in St. Louis (now the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts). He was awarded a scholarship to continue his studies in Paris at the Académie Julian (now ESAG Penninghen) and then spent time at the American art colony established in Giverny, around the home of — though not directly connected with — Claude Monet. The works of one Miller’s friends from Giverny, Frederick Carl Frieseke, bear a remarkable similarity to his.
In Paris, he met Harriet Adams of Rhode Island. They were married in London in 1907. Two years later, they had a daughter, Elsbeth.
Of all the artistic expatriates who settled in Provincetown as World War I consumed Europe, Miller “was the most coloristically impressionist in style, yet the most bitterly anti-modern in attitude,” Dorothy Gees Seckler wrote in Provincetown Painters, 1890s-1970s.
His success in Paris was apparently based on paintings of models posed as fashionable ladies of the boudoir, or other bourgeois surroundings that would allow for the play on sunlight on comely flesh, on ribbons and ornaments. Yet when Miller could set aside the contrived artificiality of this kind of marketable fare, he was capable of considerable depth and sensitivity. This is seen in his sympathetically affectionate portrait of young Edwin (Eddie) Reeves Euler, with the stuffed owl (which Eddie still owns) crowning the subtle composition.
Befitting an artist of his station, Miller was deeply involved both with the Provincetown Art Association and its social parallel, the Beachcombers. It was here that he provided the lightning rod — or the final straw, depending on how you look at it — for the bitter and pronounced division between the modern and conservative factions at the association, which reached a head in 1926, when the work of the two camps was hung together in the same room for the last time. Ross Moffett described the precipating incident in Art in Narrow Streets:
‘Hence the Pyramids,’ signed by a purported ‘Ad Wolgast,’ was a cubist-like canvas that hung in the corner of the gallery allotted to the moderns …. Soon it became noised about the art colony that ‘Wolgast’ was none other than Richard Miller. Not all members of the Association regarded this hoax with amusement. Some blamed Miller, some the Art Association in general, and some the two members of the jury who had been counted on to defend the interests of the moderns, but who had been fooled by a fake modern picture.
John Whorf was also in on the hoax and claimed credit for having come up with the name of Ad Wolgast; the “Michigan Wildcat” was a washed-up prize fighter. “I’ll bet none of the art colony around here ever heard of him,” Whorf said. “Ad Wolgast it is!” answered Miller exultantly. Beginning in 1927, summer exhibitions of the modern and conservative schools were hung separately.
In 1929, Elsbeth Miller died in her 20th year. Miller himself died in January 1943 while in St. Augustine, Fla. All three family members are buried in the Snow Cemetery in Truro. Miller’s pallbearers included Whorf and the writer John Dos Passos, and such prominent town artists as William Boogar, Oscar Gieberich, Philip Malicoat, and Bruce McKain; and leading civic figures like Ralph S. Carpenter, Dr. Frederick Hammett, and Carl Murchison. The next year, Mrs. Miller sold the property to Lilly K. Christensen of Brooklyn. At this time, the house and studio still occupied the same tax lot.
Christensen sold that and an adjacent parcel to the east (now No. 202) to Eugene J. and Jeannette B. Corrigan, of Narberth, Pa., northwest of Philadelphia. The summer tenants in 1956 were the author Daniel Yankelovich and his wife — presumably the same Daniel Yankelovich (b 1924) who would soon establish the marketing and research firm Yankelovich, Skelly & White. The summer tenant in 1957 was the artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1991).
The abstract artist Irving J. Marantz (1912-1972) and his wife, Evelyn M. (Hurwitz) Marantz (1911-1975), a teacher, bought the property from the Corrigans in 1958, renewing 200 Bradford’s role as an important art landmark in town. Marantz was graduated in 1933 from the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art (it no longer exists); studied with George Grosz and Harry Sternberg at the Art Students League of New York, a crucible of Provincetown artists; and then studied in Hong Kong and Shanghai, until 1940. “I learned a great deal about Chinese art and became something of an authority on it,” he told Frank Crotty of The Worcester Sunday Telegram in 1959. The couple were married in 1938 and had two children: Mady and Michael.
Beginning in 1950, Marantz conducted the Provincetown School of Painting, though it was apparently not here, to judge from a 1959 advertisement in The Advocate showing it on Atkins Lane. (It had previously been at 516 Commercial Street.) “Art students, whether beginners or advanced, are presented with an understanding of technique and esthetics,” the ad said. “Emphasis is placed on experimentation, and assistance is given in the search for direction.” To Crotty, Marantz said:
One paints because one has greater empathy with shapes, colors and textures than with sounds, words or movement. … [A]ll the aspects and parts of his painting create a sense of oneness. The viewer obtains a feeling of exaltation, gratification, and a sense of participation with this oneness. It is as one enjoys the experience of seeing a bird in flight, or the movement of a fish in water, or existence itself.
Irving Marantz died in 1972. Evelyn survived him by three years. They are both buried in Town Cemetery under a monument that includes a sensuous stone sculpture that Mady Marantz, a psychologist practicing in New York City, told me in 2015 was the work of Conrad Malicoat (1936-2014). The property was sold in 1978 for $77,500 to the writer and poet Gabrielle “Gaby” Rilleau Ponek, of the Rilleau sandal-making family, and her husband, Stefan P. Ponek Jr., a radio announcer and producer. After they were divorced, she became the sole owner in 1981 and remains so today, both of the main house and studio parcels.
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.
One of the very few floaters to make it all the way to the East End, Linger-A-Long was built around 1820. When it was out at the edge of the sea, it belonged to Eldridge Smith, a founder of the Long Point settlement after the War of 1812. Smith’s grandson, Capt. Ed Walter Smith, earned his place in whaling legend by killing a 73-foot right whale in 1888. Beatrice Perry was living here in 1950 when her presence was noted as the only woman scalloper in Provincetown.
Among Provincetown’s more inscrutable ornaments are these pretty blue-and-white enameled plaques, found mostly in the far West End. They indicate that the houses to which they’re affixed were contructed in the early 19th century out on Long Point and later floated over to town on scows. (Or, at least, that the owners once believed their houses had come from Long Point.) These “floaters” are vestiges of a community that once lived as close to the fishery as anyone could get — without being in a school. More history and interactive map»
Red House, the plaque says – a bit needlessly, since the house is clearly that. A white-on-blue enamel plaque, designed by Claude Jensen, shows a Cape Cod house on a scow on the waves, with the narrow stretch of Long Point and its lighthouse in the distance. That indicates a house that was floated across the harbor from the antebellum settlement on the point. Once called the Gilbert Spencer cottage, 18 Commercial Street was built around 1830. It seems to have acquired its distinctive color in the 1930s, when it was acquired as an annex by the Red Inn, across the road at 15 Commercial Street, which used it to house workers and overflow guests. More history»
Before it was floated over, the 1850s Frances Abbott Cottage stood at the western edge of Long Point. The fluted pilasters and entablature identify this house as vernacular Greek Revival. It was the home to the Joneses in the mid-20th century: Carolyn, who helped organize the Camp Fire Girls, and her daughter, Helen, who was active in the Nautilus Club.
From 31 to 41 Commercial Street are seven buildings on 450 feet of beachfront, collectively the Masthead Resort, owned and operated since 1959 by John J. Ciluzzi Sr. (b 1923) What seems at first like a completely random group can actually be discerned as a symmetrical compound of three substantial houses at the ends and center — No. 31, the Old Furniture Shop; No. 37, a Long Point floater; and No. 41, the Helena Rubinstein summer home — with two cottages in each of the two interstices. More pictures and history»
A meticulously cared-for house, 34 Commercial Street is part of the Long Point diaspora in the West End. It was constructed in about 1830 and was the residence of Joseph Emery, in the center of the original settlement out at the point. In the mid-1950s, Jane Harrison had a jewelry store here, selling enamel-on-copper earrings, bracelets, rings, pendants and pins.
Dr. Don’s Landing
Dr. Don’s Landing, a condominium at 43 Commercial Street, occupies a building that once stood at the center of the Long Point settlement, where it was built around 1840 for the whaling captain John C. Weeks Sr., whose son lived at 42 Commercial Street. Harriet Weeks Spear was born here in 1851, when the house will still across the harbor. It was ferried over when Harriet was seven years old and she continued to live there well into her 80s, after completing a half century as a high school teacher. She married at the age of 70. More pictures and history»
Jones Locker Condominium
For a period in the 1970s, when Provincetown was at its nonconformist zenith, a neo-Classical belfry, topped by a tapering cupola and whale windvane, stood outside (or very near) 45 Commercial Street. You can get a good glimpse of it inside the back cover of Provincetown Discovered (1986), by Edmund V. Gillon Jr. The remarkably out-of-place structure was also photographed in 1976 by Josephine Del Deo as part of the Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory. Could it have been associated with the Shore Studio Gallery next door at 47 Commercial Street? I’m eager to learn more. More pictures and history»
A full Cape with Victorian trim, 46 Commercial Street was originally the home of Richard Tarrant at the east end of Long Point. It was constructed in approximately 1820. The Rev. Frank Orr Johnson, the priest in charge of St. Mary of the Harbor in the late 1920s and early 30s, lived here. A hand-painted plaque, “La Mantia / La Velle,” refers to the owners, Raffaello LaMantia, an artist, and J. Edward LaVelle, who purchased the property in 1988. The couple had been together 53 years at the time of LaVelle’s death in 2013. ¶ Updated 2013-11-17
The Labrador Landing Condominium at 47 Commercial Street occupies a large 1835 structure that distinguished for its dimensions early on: it was the only two-story house on Long Point, where it belonged to John Williams. In 1947, Donald F. Witherstine opened the Shore Studio Gallery. It was one of the first and most important commercial galleries in town. “We could use the amazing Mr. Witherstine in 57th Street also,” Edward Alden Jewell wrote in The New York Times that year. “He is a force, a whiz, a conflagration.” More pictures and history»
The Twin Bays studio apartments at 49 Commercial Street is one of the most immaculately maintained houses in the West End. Passers-by in summertime can count on seeing its window boxes in profuse bloom. There are twin bay windows on the ground floor and unusual twin attic windows. Built around 1820, this was the home on Long Point of Prince Freeman. It was in the center of the settlement, on the shores of Lobster Plain. George S. Payne, an artist who depicted old wharves and fish houses in the late 19th century, once owned this house. More pictures»
Prince Freeman Apartments
Nathaniel Freeman lived in this modest house, built in 1818 in the center of the Long Point community. Catherine and Edward Dahill opened the Prince Freeman Apartments in 1949, taking the name from the first baby born at Long Point. Now called the Prince Freeman Westend Waterfront Compound, 51 Commercial Street continues to be run and owned by the Dahill family. More pictures»
Notable for its two front doors, this large house at 58 Commercial Street began its days out on Long Point in the 1830s, though its original owner is not known. This was the property of Frank Williams at the turn of the 20th century, when it was denominated 43 Commercial Street.
This Long Point transplant at 59 Commercial Street was, until recent years, the home of the Center for Coastal Studies, an “independent, nonprofit, membership-supported institution dedicated to research, public education programs and conservation programs for the coastal and marine environments.” It was founded by Dr. Charles (Stormy) Mayo, Dr. Barbara Mayo and Dr. Graham Giese. It is now at 115 Bradford Street, leaving this fine old house to return to domestic service.
Long point floater. The home of Fannie C. Chipman (±1865-1954), the daughter of Stephen F. Atwood and Adelia C. (Morgan) Atwood, who lived at 10 Atwood Avenue. Like her mother, Mrs. Chipman was active in the Centenary Methodist Church. (“Mrs. Fannie H. Chipman,” The Advocate, 23 December 1954.)
Though it looks like part of a compound with the Art House theater — and is in fact on the same tax lot — 212 Commercial Street was constructed between 1850 and 1870. (The Long Point exhibit at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum identifies it as a floater.) James Matenos owned the property in the mid-20th century and offered rooms for transients and ran a shoe repair shop. The building was firmly pinned on summer visitors’ retail map by 1960 with the Paraphernalia apparel store — “everything to make you Happily Dressed (except culottes!)” it declared in an ad just before Bastille Day. In 1963, Mary Rattray Kanovitz, a costume jeweler from the East Village, opened the Queen of Diamonds, a clothing and accessories store. More pictures and history»
During the Long Point diaspora of the mid-19th century, the settlement’s most prominent public buildings — the school house and post office — are both reputed to have made the voyage across the harbor. The post office wound up at 256 Bradford Street, the school house at 329 Commercial Street, where it remained until a disastrous fire in 1949, serving in its latter years as the home of the appliance and bicycle shop of Arnold F. Dwyer (±1918-1998), which is still in business, though on a far more modest scale. More pictures and history»
Provincetown’s most famous native son — Rear Admiral Donald Baxter MacMillan (1874-1970) — was an intrepid and imaginative Arctic explorer, anthropologist, geographer and naturalist. Though he traveled more than 300,000 miles in 30 trips to the far north, he lived just blocks from where he was born (524 Commercial Street). This building was originally the barracks for the Civil War batteries at Long Point. MacMillan was the last survivor of the 1908-09 expedition in which Robert E. Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole. But “Mac” was no mere adventurer. His goal was “to bring back to scholars of all kinds bits of useful knowledge about this little-known great domain.” More pictures and history»
This house — a favored post card subject in the early 1900s when Nickerson Street was still a magnificent elm allée (never mind the caption that calls them willows) — was built by Elijah Doane on Long Point. Seemingly a picture-perfect slice of Americana, 3 Nickerson Street served briefly as a studio for Norman Rockwell.
The medicinal properties of cod liver oil have long been appreciated — children’s grimacing faces to the contrary notwithstanding — and it follows that money was to be made from this elixir on Cape Cod. And that’s what Nathaniel E. Atwood did out on Long Point, where he built this house. Myrick C. Atwood succeeded him and lived in this structure after it was transported to town, joining a small colony of floaters on Nickerson Street. Its best known and best loved inhabitant, for more than 50 years, was the painter Mary Cleveland “Bubs” (Moffett) Hackett (1906-1989), pictured above. Her many admirers, among whom I count myself, see sophistication and passion in what look like naïve or primitive canvases at first glance.
It’s tempting to imagine what views this delicate, if incongruous, bay window would have commanded when 6 Nickerson Street stood out on Long Point, housing Heman Smith. But that’s pure fantasy, of course, since the window is a much more recent addition to the structure. A view of the house from the driveway, however, helps you see what looks like the roofline of the original floater — under all those alterations. The property changed hands several times in the 1990s. It is now owned by James E. Watkins of Boston. • Historic District Survey • Assessor’s Online Database ¶ Posted 2013-05-20
47 Pleasant Street Condominium
Two eras of town history, both now seeming almost equally remote, are embodied in this odd-looking mashup. The south half of the hybrid, pictured above, is a classic three-quarter Cape. It is believed to have stood originally at the east end of the Long Point settlement, where it served as the home of one Jonathan Smith, whose storehouse was not far away. Like the other buildings on the point, it was floated over to Provincetown in the mid-19th century, after which it was grafted on to a two-story house on Pleasant Street. More pictures and history»
Nancyann Meads, the longtime proprietor of Edwige, 333 Commercial Street, acquired this home in 1985 from her parents, Lawrence W. Meads (b ±1933), a ship’s carpenter, and his wife, Nancy P. Meads (b ±1936). The previous owners were Edwin Norwood Snow (±1886-1953), a professional painter, and his wife, Catherine Nancy (MacFarlane) Snow. More history»
Capt. William W. “Billy” King (±1932-1976) of the F/V Patricia Marie and his wife, Patricia Marie King (b ±1934), bought this house in 1961 from Richard E. and Lorraine Adams. They lived here with their six children. The Patricia Marie was lost while scalloping off Pollock Rip on 24 October 1976. Captain King and six crew members, all Provincetown men, went down with her. It was the worst such catastrophe in the modern era, devastating this close-knit community. Almost no corner of town life was untouched by the absence of these men or the presence of their widows and their fatherless children. More history »
West End Condominium
This was the home of Barnabus Atwood out on Long Point, according to the Long Point exhibit at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, and was located near the schoolhouse (later 329 Commercial Street). Edward G. Benz of Orleans converted the property into a three-unit condo in 1995. More information »
Victor DeCarlo (1916-1973) was, as were so many in Provincetown, a product of the Art Students League of New York. He also studied with the muralist Jean Charlot at the Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs, at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington and at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze. After serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II, he returned to Europe, married Sibylle Schneider, then came back to his native New Haven. The DeCarlos bought this property from Antonio and Patricia L. Silva in 1965. More pictures and history»
This was the home of Robert Smith when it was out at Long Point. Rest of the entry to be written.
This house, a floater at the core, was owned by Timothy Cowing when it was out at Long Point. It was purchased from the Cowing family in 1953 by Rachel “Rae” (Silva) White (b 1933) and her husband, Robert William “Bob” White (1926-2011). The daughter of Manuel Peter Silva (d 1942) and Annie Elizabeth (Lee) Silva (1893-1984), Rae was delivered by midwife on Pearl Street and grew up at 123 Bradford Street. Her siblings were Malcolm Glaspell Silva (named in honor of the playwright Susan Glaspell), Emanuel Raphael Silva, Elizabeth Jane (Silva) Rosenblatt and Norbert Lee Silva. In 1950, she married Bob White. Their children are Sharon Suzanne (White) Walker, Maxine Rachel (White) Notaro, Roberta Lee (White) Magowitz, Rachel Elizabeth (White) Peters and Shawn Robert White. More pictures and history»
This was owned by John Atwood Jr. when it was out at Long Point.