2 Baker Avenue

2 Baker Avenue. [2012, Dunlap]


Formerly 9½ Pearl Street. This house was constructed in the early 19th century. Like many older buildings, it has a circular cellar whose shape buttresses the wall against the pressure of surrounding sand. Unlike most building, it has (or had) a built-in ironing board that folded up and into the wall, much like a Murphy bed. And unlike most buildings, it had a “secret” path, allowing the residents to shortcut Baker Avenue and enter the house from Pearl Street.

The property was purchased in 1994 by Dr. Claire Sprague (1926-2021). After earning a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, she was also a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Zaragoza in Spain, a professor at Brooklyn College (City University of New York), and the dean of graduate studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) in Manhattan. Her specialty was modern English and American literature. Dr. Sprague was the host and co-creator with Ann Lane of “Sister Talk” on WOMR-FM, a program focusing on gender issues that was broadcast for 17 years, until 2009. Sprague co-curated, with Irma Ruckstuhl, “The Jeweler’s Art: Four Provincetown Silversmiths, 1940s-1960s,” a 2003 exhibition at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and was co-executor of the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed estate. She also studied painting at the Cooper Union in Manhattan and was the first president of the Doris Lessing Society.

After she sold this property in 2012, her secret little pathway down to Pearl Street was closed off.


Dr. Claire Sprague at home on Baker Avenue. [2012, Dunlap]


The circular cellar was remarkably intact. [2012, Dunlap]


[2012, Dunlap]


[2012, Dunlap]


Among the special features of 2 Baker Avenue was a towel rack that had been handmade by the artist Lillian Orlowsky, of whose estate Dr. Sprague was executor. [2012, Dunlap]


Dr. Sprague demonstrated the ingenious fold-up ironing board. [2012, Dunlap]


The great age of the house was underscored by extraordinarily wide floor boards; more than 15 inches, in this case. [2012, Dunlap]


[2012, Dunlap]


[2012, Dunlap]


[2012, Dunlap]


[2012, Dunlap]


[2012, Dunlap]


[2012, Dunlap]


Dr. Sprague and Irma Ruckstuhl co-curated this show, which ran from August to September 2003. It focused on the work of Paul A. Lobel, Henry Stein (one of his necklaces is depicted on the cover), Ed Wiener, and Jules Brenner.


Dr. Sprague’s “secret” pathway down the hill from her house to Pearl Street. [2012, Dunlap]


Dr. Sprague at the rear entrance of her property. [2012, Dunlap]


2 Baker Avenue on the Town Map, showing property lines.


¶ Last updated on 21 January 2021.

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