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 was responsible 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.) Miller got into the business through a fairly direct route: he married Benjamin H. Dyer’s daughter, Ada. According to a biography prepared by King Hiram’s Lodge, of which Miller was the Master from 1927 to 1928, he and his brother Francis S. Miller formed the Dyer company. George Miller also served as the Town Moderator and as president of the Seamen’s Savings Bank. In his spare time, he rebuilt 82 Commercial Street in the 1930s.
At the end of a six-year restoration by the owner Gregory L. Craig, 82 Commercial Street was in pristine condition by 2014, when the photo was taken. Compare this to the thumbnail picture above, which was taken in 2011. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
George F. Miller Jr. was living at 82 Commercial State as late as the mid-1970s, as was
Eileen Erlin A. Miller. For a time in the 1960s, the house was shared with Frank Hogan, Mrs. Miller’s son, who ran a real estate business there.
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. The thumbnail photo above shows the project in 2011. 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 John C. Roettger and Brian P. Molloy, of Miami Beach.
¶ Last updated on 22 July 2018.
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.
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.