Admittedly, it doesn’t look at first like a great Cape Cod house; at least, not when seen from Atlantic Avenue. But note those half-windows under the roof eaves in the eastern section of the building. Then, foliage permitting, take a long, appreciative look at the southeastern facade: it’s a terrifically handsome three-quarter Cape, with a fanlight over (what used to be) the front door, which is framed in Greek Revival-style surrounds. John M. LePeer, a former owner, estimated that the original portion of the house was constructed around 1745, and it’s not hard to see why he thinks so.
It is said that this house and 152 Commercial Street, another three-quarter Cape on the opposite side of Atlantic Avenue, may have been built for two sisters by their father, according to James E. Reardon, a former owner.
The shape of the original Cape house, and of the telltale half-windows, are superimposed on a 2012 photograph by the Town Assessor, Key 1281.
The house was known as 3 Atlantic Avenue for most of its existence, but the Town Assessor changed the street number in 2012 from No. 3 to No. 1. This was home for much of the early 20th century to Matilda “Tillie” (Brazil) Andrews (1877-1956) and her husband, Manuel C. Andrews (1868-1956), a fisherman. They had two daughters: Mary Edith (Andrews) Hardman and Dorothy (Andrews) Portis. Mary Edith inherited the property, which she sold in 1958 to Clara E. Souza, who lived here several years with her husband, Robert Souza, a truck driver. She sold 3 Atlantic Avenue in 1966 to Hazel Meyer and Roslyn Garfield (1921-2012), who would go on to serve 18 years as town moderator.
Doing business as the Restoration Realty Company, Garfield and Meyer turned around the next year and sold the property to Janet (Owen) Roberts and William Roberts. “The Robertses’ connection to Provincetown was through the Provincetown Playhouse; Bill was a stage designer and Janet was a theatrical agent with the William Morris Agency in New York,” the historian Irma Ruckstuhl told me in 2013. “Among her clients was the Italian stage designer Franco Zeffirelli.” Ruckstuhl came to know Janet Roberts in the years after her husband’s death in 1981.
The classic three-quarter Cape facade, glimpsed through foliage in 2016. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
Humans aren’t the only creatures to be comfortably accommodated at 1 Atlantic Avenue. David W. Dunlap (2016).
“A frequent guest and sometime resident in her house was John LePeer, son of Virginia Thoms, one of the co-owners of the Provincetown Playhouse,” Ruckstuhl said. “Later, John took care of Janet when she became ill. After her death at 68 in 1995 of lung cancer, he was co-executor of her estate with Janet’s sister Robin Watt, a Maine resident. John bought the house from the estate in 1998 for $180,000, did quite a bit of work on the property and sold it.” In a dramatically rising real estate market, LePeer’s care — and elbow grease — raised the value of the house to $600,000 by 2003, when he sold it to Reardon and Arthur M. Hagopian Jr. It broke the million-dollar barrier in 2012, when it was purchased by Daniel P. McCurdy and Robert J. Anderson (one-half interest), and John M. Huffman (the other half). Julie A. Reid bought the house in 2015 for $1.375 million and sold it two years later, for $1.514 million.
¶ Last updated 22 January 2019.
1 Atlantic Avenue on the Town Map.
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2011, by David W. Dunlap.
Irma Ruckstuhl wrote on 1 March 2013: In 1967 Janet (Owen) and William “Bill” Roberts bought this house from Roz Garfield and Hazel Meyer for about $13,000. The Robertses’ connection to Provincetown was through the Provincetown Playhouse; Bill was a stage designer and Janet was a theatrical agent with the William Morris Agency in New York. Among her clients was the Italian stage designer Franco Zeffirelli.
Bill died at 54 in 1981 of cirrhosis of the liver. About this time, I got to know Janet and shared many delightful dinners around her table in the small kitchen. A frequent guest and sometime resident in her house was John LePeer, son of Virginia Thoms, one of the co-owners of the Provincetown Playhouse. Later, John took care of Janet when she became ill. After her death at 68 in 1995 of lung cancer, he was co-executor of her estate with Janet’s sister Robin Watt, a Maine resident.
John bought the house from the estate in 1998 for $180,000, did quite a bit of work on the property and sold it to [James] Reardon and [Arthur] Hagopian in 2003 for $600,000. John lives most of the time in California, but has returned during recent summers to work as a waiter at Fanizzi’s.
Shannon Sawyer wrote on 11 November 2013: It was told to me that this house, along with the one across the street (152 Commercial), was purchased by a ship’s captain. The houses were intended for each of his two daughters. Do you have have any info on this?
James Reardon wrote on 22 October 2014: You may explore the idea of this and the house across the street as being built for two sisters by their father, the original owner of the home that was formerly the Martin House, across the town landing from the Boatslip, the latter being recently profiled in The New York Times Home section. What was known as 3 Atlantic Avenue is a treasure of a house and a fine home. Sadly there are few like it left.
John LePeer wrote on 21 January 2019: The information that Irma [Ruckstuhl] put on there is correct. I am John LePeer, who lived in the house for many years. … The house was built in the 1700s — around 1745 or so.