Fillmore Miller house.
An expansive lawn, bordered by a picture-perfect picket fence, set off the handsome Full Cape that was — for three decades — the home and office of the town optometrist, Dr. Max A. Berman (1918-2008), and his wife, Anita Berman (b 1924), who served as the guidance counselor at Provincetown High School until 1986. Four years before his death, Dr. Berman told The Provincetown Banner he might have the longest-running practice on Cape Cod: 57 years, at the time. “He’s seen it all,” the newspaper declared. The house is shown in the 1880 Barnstable County atlas as belonging to the R. Miller estate, and the property encompassed a considerable stretch of beachfront on the opposite side of the street. (The house number in the 19th century was 77 Commercial Street.)
Lucinda A. Miller was living there when the 20th century arrived. Perhaps the most prominent member of the Miller family in the first half of the 20th century was George Fillmore Miller (1861-1946), who lived here as a child and was responsible, later in life, for the growth of B. H. Dyer & Company, which once dominated the hardware and paint business in town. (Its name can still be seen in the pediment at 171-173 Commercial Street.)
82 Commercial Street in an undated photograph, courtesy of Gregory L. Craig.
In 2008. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
In 2009. Dunlap.
In 2011, during Gregory Craig’s meticulous restoration. Dunlap.
Triumphant roofers in 2011. Dunlap.
The results of their work. Dunlap, 2011.
The newly restored house in 2014. Dunlap.
Miller’s son, George F. Miller Jr. (1900-1978) — known as Fillmore to distinguish him from his father — moved into the house in the early 1950s with his second wife, Viola (Atkins) Hogan. He remained here until his death. He shared the house for a time with Viola’s children, Erlin A. Miller and Frank Hogan, who ran a real estate business here.
The Bermans arrived in 1978 from their longtime home at 190 Commercial Street, where Spiritus is now. His patients included the artists Hans Hofmann, Bruce McKain, Charles Heinz, and John Whorf. “He would tell me that he did most of his painting as he looked out the window at the water,” Berman recalled of Whorf. About artists generally, he said: “It’s like a cab driver, or a truck driver. Or someone who is going to New York driving these fish trucks. They need good long-distance vision.”
Gregory L. Craig, a private investor based in Telluride, Colo., acquired the house in 2007, and began an ambitious, meticulous, six-year restoration that included the installation of a red-cedar shingle roof. The principal contractor was Derik Burgess of Cape Associates. Besides the rehabilitated structure, Craig’s other bequest to the town was an exhaustive, 123-page hardcover book, 82 Commercial Street: Features, History and Recent Restoration. He sold the property in 2016 to residents of Miami Beach. It’s now owned by a couple from Manhattan.
¶ Last updated on 24 October 2020.
Irma Ruckstuhl wrote on 9 October 2013: I believe the reference above to Eileen should read “Erlin” (b 1930), who is sister to Frank Hogan (b 1939). Both are children of Fillmore Jr.’s second wife, Viola (Atkins) Hogan. He married his first wife, Jeanette McMurray (1900-1942) in 1927. In 1930, they were living in the home of Jeanette’s aunts, Jessie and Lizzie Matheson. Lucinda, Fillmore’s mother, who died in 1910 at 86, was the daughter of Richard Paine and Pauline Dyer of Truro. [Thank you. These changes have been made. DWD]
Gregory Craig wrote on 14 July 2014: George F. Miller, though he owned it, did not live here later in life though he did as a child. He lived at, I think, 7 Winthrop Street. George F. Miller, Jr. (Fillmore) lived here after his marriage to Viola Hogan about 1953-1978. [Thank you. These changes have been made. DWD]
82 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2013, by David W. Dunlap.