The Mary Heaton Vorse House

Mary Heaton Vorse House served as an important hub for Provincetown Players, notable journalists, and twentieth-century bohemians. Constructed on Cape Cod around 1807, its cottage style structure provided the ideal setting for intellectuals and iconoclasts who came together there to share ideas and debate social injustice – this place inspired both her 1942 memoir Time and the Town and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill who staged some of his early productions on an makeshift stage donated by Vorse!

Vorse was born to wealthy parents in New York City and spent her early writing years covering social issues and history. However, by the end of Lincoln Steffens’ era as a “muckraker,” her focus shifted toward investigative reporting of social injustice; she wrote for such prominent publications as McClure’s Magazine, Harper’s Weekly Ladies Home Journal and New York Times; emphasizing both feminist ideals as well as economic justice for workers.

But despite her fame and acclaim, she went through much personal distress. She lost two husbands to death or divorce and endured a nervous breakdown in 1928 before becoming addicted to alcohol and morphine at various points in her life. Finally she managed to break free from her mother’s drawing room life by discovering her true calling as a writer.

Once she moved to Provincetown, Vorse’s literary and political writing became more feminist; she became deeply committed to workers’ rights advocacy. She wrote 16 books including Footnote to Folly, Labor’s New Millions, Time and the Town as well as hundreds of articles; additionally she served as an advisor and mentor for young female reporters.

Vorse initially struggled to balance family responsibilities with an increasingly busy writing career. She and her children frequently traveled with their husband on his newspaper assignments. Vorse wrote fiction depicting women who sacrificed themselves to care for their children only to become “beautiful soulless monstrosities.”

Vorse, who suffered a series of strokes when she was in her sixties, suffered limited movement and memory loss that ultimately resulted in her passing away at age 92 in 1966.

In 2018, Vorse’s grandchildren approached interior designer Ken Fulk about purchasing and renovating her house, to which Fulk agreed. Fulk recently purchased and restored the George Bryant house across Commercial Street, working closely with woodworker and historic construction specialist Nathaniel McKean to restore it carefully. John Waters recently visited and made the comment that it resembled what it must have looked like during Vorse’s life. Artist David Jencks had also created busts of Eleanor Roosevelt and Aaron Copland as well as a granite likeness of Robert Frost for Amherst College; so it made perfect sense that he be asked to sculpt Vorse himself.

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