2020 Commercial 076-01


Hofmann House Condominiums (Unit 3).

Would it be too much to say that this is the most beautiful studio in Provincetown? The house on Commercial Street was purchased in 1927 by the seascape painter Frederick Judd Waugh (1861-1940), described by Mary Heaton Vorse as the “outstanding marine painter in America — with perhaps the exception of Winslow Homer” (whom Waugh admired). It was Waugh who constructed the studio on Nickerson Street, directly behind the main house, though it has long been identified most strongly with Hans Hofmann. Waugh used beams and planks from a shipwreck, as well as enormous structural brackets known as ship’s knees that can frequently be seen doing second duty in Provincetown houses. The studio was completed in 1928.

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966), who left Germany when Hitler came to power, at first worked and taught at the Hawthorne Class Studio on Miller Hill Road. After losing the lease there, he moved down the hill for one season to Fritz Bultman’s studio at 8 Miller Hill Road. He purchased the Waugh studio and home in 1945. Regarded as an outstanding teacher, Hofmann conducted Friday afternoon critiques that drew large crowds. He died in 1966 and is buried in Truro.

With the creation in 1982 of the Hofmann House Condominiums, the home and studio were divided into separate units under different ownership. In 1990, Donard Engle, a clergyman from Akron, Ohio, purchased the Waugh-Hofmann studio. Engle invited a friend, Todd Westrick, who is a landscape and architectural designer, to visit Provincetown in 1998. By Westrick’s own recollection, his jaw dropped when he saw the studio. “It needed love and attention, it needed preservation, but it was utterly captivating,” he told Donna Paul of Preservation magazine in 2011. “And I’m a sucker for a project,” he added. A project is what he got, all right. Westrick worked for years on a faithful restoration and conservation effort whose result is a space that Hofmann and Waugh would have no trouble at all recognizing. Hofmann would even be able to spot paint speckles from his classroom and studio days. “I am a steward of this building,” Westrick said in Preservation, “and I have a deep level of respect for it.” He became a co-owner in 2007.

Ryan Murphy and his husband, David Miller, bought the studio in 2016; strengthening the California-Cape creative corridor. Murphy is a film and television writer, director, producer, and creator. (American Crime Story, American Horror Story, Eat Pray Love, Feud, Glee, Nip/Tuck, The Normal Heart, and Pose — to name a few.) The couple already owned a spectacular beachfront home at 27 Commercial Street.

For a view of the main house, please see 76 Commercial Street.

For a view of the attic apartment, please see 76 Commercial Street.

For a view of the rear cottage, please see 76 Commercial Street.

¶ Last updated on 18 July 2018.

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