This stout, angular box of a studio was built in the 1950s for Boris Margo, a Ukrainian native who emigrated to the United States in 1930 and married the artist Jan Gelb. They spent summers in a dune shack that still bears their names. “Margo pioneered new materials and techniques to create his biomorphic and lyrically abstract work,” Pamela Mandell wrote in On Equal Ground. In 1971, squatters started a fire that burned the studio down, though firemen did all they could to save the artwork. Margo and his nephew Murray Zimiles rebuilt in 1973. Since Margo’s death in 1995, the studio has been used by Zimiles and his niece, Dawn Zimiles, a painter and mixed-media artist.
When you spot a white-on-blue plaque of a house aboard a scow — as there is on this lovely three-quarter Cape — you’re in the presence of a building that was floated over from Long Point, an early 19th-century settlement on the thin finger of land separating Cape Cod Bay from Provincetown Harbor. By the late 1860s, as the near-shore fishery grew depleted, the settlement had to be abandoned. Almost 40 structures were salvaged, however, and floated over to town as the plaque suggests, including this one and two nearby, at 10 and 12 Atwood.
Clustered around Atwood Avenue and Point Street are many of the Long Point floaters whose historical provenance seems most solid. At the heart of the property at No. 10 is a house that was believed to have belonged to Joseph Butler when it stood out at the point, somewhat in the center of the settlement. By the 1860s, it had been moved across the harbor. In 1862, it became the home of the newly wedded Adelia (Morgan) Atwood and Stephen Atwood. Her great love was the Centenary Methodist Church, where she sang in the choir. Joseph Collins and Harry Clark of San Francisco bought the house in 1999 and undertook a renovation that preserved a lot of the distinctive architectural features that had grown by accretion over the decades.
Jack Kearney of Chicago, who trained at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and in Italy, was a sculptor in the classical medium of bronze and the less classical medium of automobile parts. This was his studio and fabrication plant, on property he purchased in 1984. “Kearney has welded the curved ends of chrome car bumpers into the organic shapes of such beasts as the bison, Siberian tiger, snowy egret and white rhinoceros,” Christopher Busa wrote in Provincetown Arts. Among the works cast here were characters from The Wizard of Oz, for Oz Park in Chicago. When a girl spotted the newly finished Tin Man, she admonished the sculptor that he’d forgotten the heart. Kearney told her father to bring her back the next day, by which time he’d given Tin Man a heart of stainless steel. A man of great heart himself, Kearney died in 2014.
A picturesque exemplar of the Cape Cod house (in this case a three-quarter Cape with Greek Revival flourishes, built around 1830), 1 Baker further profits from its situation, roughly perpendicular to Pearl Street, which sets it off charmingly. A century and more ago, this was home to the Baker family. Since 2010, it has been owned by Ryan Landry, the indefatigable impresario behind the popular Showgirls revue and shepherd of the Gold Dust Orphans troupe, whose productions have included Mildred Fierce, Pornocchio, Mary Poppers, Valet of the Dolls, and Silent Night of the Lambs.
Once known as 9B Pearl Street, this house was constructed in the early 19th century. Like many older buildings, it has a circular cellar whose shape buttresses the wall against the pressure of surrounding sand. The property was purchased in 1994 by Claire Sprague, the host and co-creator with Ann Lane of Sister Talk on WOMR-FM, a program focusing on gender issues that was broadcast for 17 years, until 2009. Sprague co-curated, with Irma Ruckstuhl, “The Jeweler’s Art: Four Provincetown Silversmiths, 1940s-1960s,” a 2003 exhibition at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and was co-executor of the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed estate. After she sold this property in 2012, her secret little pathway down to Pearl Street was closed off.
In 1953, almost a quarter century after arriving in this country from Greece, the artist and horticulturalist Nassos Daphnis came to Provincetown. Among the artists he met was Helen Avlonitis, a student of Robert Motherwell. They were wed in 1956 and bought this house, then roughly a century old, in 1958. A year later, the gallerist Leo Castelli in New York gave Daphnis a one-man show that “established him as a leading exponent of geometric abstraction,” The New York Times said in his 2010 obituary. Besides painting, Helen Daphnis-Avlon operated the Avlon Sun Gallery in the 1980s. She died in 2004.
“In the Shelter of Cape Cod’s Sandy Arm — Your Port o’ Call.” The motto of the Coastal Acres Camping Court has the pleasingly anachronistic ring of a place that’s endured the changing fashions of Cape-end vacation styles. It was developed by Capt. Manny Phillips, a towering figure of the fishery. His purse seiner, Silver Mink, brought in a record 250,000 pounds of tuna one day in 1959. Captain Phillips opened the 15-acre campsite in 1967 and sold Silver Mink. His son-in-law, Richard Perry, took over Coastal Acres, which is still family-run. Open-space advocates say the property, now more than 23 acres, is the largest undeveloped parcel in town.
Update | “Jamie Veara, a spokesperson for the trust that owns the Coastal Acres campground in the West End, told The Banner on Tuesday morning that the property is under contract. The transaction involves two parcels on a 22-plus-acre site, which had been listed at $4.5 million.” — The Provincetown Banner, 15 October 2015.