56 Atkins Mayo Road

The first Boris Margo studio. [Courtesy of Dawn Zimiles]

First Boris Margo studio. A stout, angular box of a workplace — made distinctive by its battered walls and sloping roof — was built in the 1950s for Boris Margo (1902-1995), a Ukrainian native who emigrated to the United States in 1930.

“Margo pioneered new materials and techniques to create his biomorphic and lyrically abstract work,” Pamela Mandell wrote in On Equal Ground. One of his most notable inventions was the cellocut: made by pouring a viscuous liquid (celluloid dissolved in acetone) onto a surface, it was carved into once the liquid was dry and hard.”

Margo was married to the artist Jan Gelb (1906-1979). They spent summers in a dune shack built on the site of the old Peaked Hill Bars Life-Saving Station. It’s still known as the Margo-Gelb shack.

On the night of 20 March 1972, as election ballots were being counted in Town Hall, the studio burned down. By the time firefighters from Pumper 5 made their way out Atkins Mayo Road, the Advocate reported, they found the house “completely engulfed in fire with flames leaping out of the windows.”

All that was left standing was the chimney.

Margo and his nephew Murray Zimiles rebuilt the studio in 1973.

[Courtesy of Dawn Zimiles]

[Courtesy of Dawn Zimiles]

Boris Margo in the studio. [Courtesy of Dawn Zimiles]

[Courtesy of Dawn Zimiles]

Boris Margo in 1959. [Courtesy of Dawn Zimiles]

Coverage in the Provincetown Advocate. Photo by Fred Hemley. [Courtesy of Dawn Zimiles]

All that was left. [Courtesy of Dawn Zimiles]

56 Atkins Mayo Road on the Town Map, showing property lines.

Also at this address

Second Boris Margo studio.

¶ Last updated on 2 January 2022.

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