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Provincetown :: Thursday, March 30th 2017

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@home, Provincetown - Grozier Mansion

February 27th, 2011

It was a rather sunny and spring-like day as I tooled down Commercial Street on my old boneshaker towards, what in my opinion, is the grandest house in town. It would seem I am not alone in that. Even on this frigid winter’s day, passersby stop and look at the beautiful grounds and comment on the grandness of the antiquated house.

From the gracious sweep of the very Victorian staircase, which greets one at the front door, it seems to make one want to wander from floor to floor.

The house is often referred to as the Grozier Mansion. It was built c.1850 in the popular Italianate style by captain William M. Atkins who made his fortune in the whaling industry. It then changed hands to a relative named Edward Atkins Grozier, who was publisher of the Boston Post. It remained in the Atkins-Grozier family until the late 1950s when the Cabral family purchased the house and the lot across the street.

Like many old houses in town it has had many tales to tell and to be told about it. When the current owners, Jennifer Cabral and Ian Leahy, moved in after a rather Dickensian legal battle between family members, once the dust and the rumors settled, it was time to get to work. What remained of this once grand house was definitely a lot of memories and a lot of falling plaster.

The house itself was built to impress, its previous owners having borrowed nuances from many of the 19th century’s greatest architectural movements. From the gracious sweep of the very Victorian staircase, which greets one at the front door, it seems to make one want to wander from floor to floor. Lingering amid the graciously proportioned rooms, it seems to call to mind another time and place. The Italianate details are present in every bit of the elaborate molding work, while on the façade they are skillfully employed in decorative cornices and corbels and window caps that give the house a definite feeling of a bygone era, when things were often created for a specific house.

A nod to the Georgian Revivalist is also very apparent in the symmetry of windows and chimneys. The exactitude is repeated in the identical disposition of rooms, to both the east and west, and upper and lower levels. The front of the house is faced with a narrow porch surrounded by a decorative balustrade that extends to the east of the façade leading to the front door, which is located there to achieve the massive scale of the six-foot-high windows and cupola replete with finial.

The architect must have placed the entry on the side so as to not make it a grand caricature of the original design and render it less potent in scale. Judging by the impression it makes upon passersby it should be considered successful.

As with many old homes in town, this one is undergoing a renaissance. Jennifer and Ian have begun a restore and renovating scheme of the interior, which has become a Herculean task. The renovations I have seen so far are very up-to-date and have a simple, almost eastern, elegance to them, without any of the obvious eastern flourishes. It is more in the idea of the design of the renovated rooms than the detailing. Simplicity and form of modern design are happily married to the classical proportion and function of each room, while paying homage to the original woodwork and details of this grand house.

They have taken up the task of reviving the grounds with the planting of a beautifully simple, yet very elegant garden, which seems to hold its own year-round, with the grand design of the house, making it even lovelier to behold than it once was. The house and grounds will serve as an ideal environment for weddings and other gatherings, which is what Jennifer and Ian have in mind to keep this aging beauty in ship shape and pointed toward the future.

As we said goodbye in the front hall …echoes of laughter filled the room and I could feel the waves of frivolity circling up the stairs and spreading the love of this very happy home right out of the windows of the cupola …which is just as it should be @home, Provincetown.


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