Provincetown Inn mystery of the house on the hill

West End, Provincetown Cape Cod Massachussets first Murchison house

West End, Provincetown Cape Cod Massachusetts first Murchison house

Today a contemporary mansion, once the residence of  the famous psychologist Carl Murchison, sits high up looking out across Land’s End, hidden by an overgrown thicket of shrubs and trees across the street from the Provincetown Inn. But 100 years ago, as shown in the above picture postcard, a white Victorian style house sat on an open bluff and the Provincetown Inn was yet to be constructed. (They opened their doors in 1925).

Cranberry bogs and wetlands once were more apparent in this scenic spot on the very tip of Cape Cod and an open white fence created a boundary for the flower bed and green fields beyond. Sidewalks were made of wood.

So who was Carl Murchison and his wife Dorotea who built the current glass walled house that sits on the hill today?… The Murchisons moved to Provincetown in the mid 1930s from Worcester, Massachusetts where Carl was previously editor and publisher of the Clark University Press.  Chair of the psychology department at Clark University he edited over a dozen books which brought international recognition to the University but also created some controversy within some scientific circles as to his research practices and management of the psychology department.  In 1935 he founded the Journal of Psychology, which he published out of his own home. This newest enterprise created the ultimate clash leading to his exit from the University.  He did, however retain possession of all the Clark University Press journals he edited and he continued to publish his journals out of Provincetown.  A tragic fire in the spring of 1956 destroyed the original house, including many of his private papers. A new modern house designed by Walter Gropius’s firm, costing $300,000 (a princely sum at the time) replaced the earlier home but unfortunately Carl did not live very much longer to enjoy its beauty. ( It was named on of the best-designed homes at 1959 by Architectural Record magazine. )He died in 1961, after an 18 month illness, (For more details about Murchison’s life consult Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology, vol 2, edited by Kimble, Boneau & Wertheimer, and published by the American Psychological Association, 1996.) His wife lived in the house for another 20 years. If you like mysteries and you like Provincetown, you’ll want to read  the new novel Remaining in Provincetown, just released this month and available for sale at Amazon in trade paperback or kindle. Like our Facebook page and you may be selected to receive a FREE book.

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