An ARTIST'S HOUSE
Old House Journal|October - November 2020
An ARTIST'S HOUSE
ULTIMATE SALVAGING IN PROVINCETOWN
STEVE GROSS & SUSAN DALEY
THE PAINTER John Dowd inhabits a sweetly picturesque, ca. 1820 cottage in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the old seacoast town at the outermost tip of sandy Cape Cod. Behind its trim picket fence, the white clapboard house has an agreeable irregularity, lending it a unique charm that had made it a favorite of vintage postcard publishers, who photographed it to appeal to the tourist trade.

Provincetown, once a whaling port and then a Portuguese fishing village, has long attracted an array of summering bohemians, many of the artists and writers from New York’s Greenwich Village and beyond. After the demise of its salt, ice, and whale-oil industries, the town consciously began a tourism program emphasizing its Yankee past and quaint architecture. The town hoped to attract enthusiasts of the Colonial era, as well as artists who would come to paint its scenic shores.

In like manner, John Dowd came to town. Newly graduated from Notre Dame’s School of Architecture in 1983, John arrived for a summer beach vacation and worked as a houseboy at a guesthouse in exchange for rent. Having painted in oils since childhood, John began doing landscapes and street scenes of the town’s historic buildings. Six months later he was still here, selling his works at a local gallery instead of beginning a career as an architect.

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October - November 2020