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The Hawthorne Barn

The Hawthorne Barn

Charles Webster Hawthorne built the barn in 1907 atop a sandy bluff in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. He opened it as an art school. Outfitted with wooden cupboards, a gambrel roof, and a glorious 15-by-15-foot window on its north end, the Cape Cod School of Art quickly lured hundreds of students from around the country. Hawthorne taught them to paint outdoors, “en plein air.”

Hawthorne died in 1930. Four years later the barn was reborn when Hans Hofmann, a master of Abstract Expressionism, assumed its lease from the Hawthorne family. Hofmann reopened the school, training the artists who continued to flock to Provincetown in his “push-pull” theory about the tension of space, line, color, and form. In time, however, the school closed. And as the decades passed, the barn became less an incubator of art than an object of art itself—its wood bearing the vestiges of the classes it held, the handprint of painter Henry Hensche coloring a slat in the loft.

Hensche was just one of the dozens of prominent artists and writers who studied or otherwise spent time in the barn. The list includes Norman Rockwell and Jackson Pollock, Tennessee Williams and Norman Mailer. Little surprise then that in 1979, the barn joined the National Register of Historical Places.

In the years that followed, the barn passed from Hofmann to the painter Morris Davidson to the pop artist Peter Gee. Despite their best efforts to revive the barn, it was a landmark in dire need of a physical upgrade

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The Hawthorne Barn

29 Miller Hill Road, Provincetown, MA 02657


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The Barn is located at 29 Miller Hill Rd in Provincetown, and is accessed by a long dirt path and a steep staircase. There is no parking available on Miller Hill Rd, nor is anyone allowed to drive down Miller Hill Rd. Parking is available in town at the large MacMillan Pier Parking Lot, and at 401 Commercial St at the corner of Law St. Our volunteers will be located at the corner of Miller Hill Rd. and Bradford St. and will be happy to provide you with directions for parking. Those who have trouble walking, can be dropped off at Miller Hill Rd. and/or call Ptown Pedicab 508.487.0660 or Cape Cab 508.487.2222 from the lot and they will deliver you to Miller Hill Rd. When exiting the Barn and Miller Hill Rd. after the program is over please be careful of our residential neighbors and keep voices low.


The Barn is only open to the public when Twenty Summers has a listed event. See event calendar at


  • About Twenty Summers at the Hawthorne Barn

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