Queer Places:
First Peaked Hill Bars Station, Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District, Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown, MA 02657
Euphoria, Dune Shack #7, Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District, Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown, MA 02657
Thalassa, Dune Shack #14, Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District, Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown, MA 02657
Historic District, 15 Howland St, Provincetown, MA 02657

Hazel Hawthorne Werner (October 24, 1901 - May 26, 2000) was a poet and the author of two novels: Salt Howe (1934), based on the time she spent at Eugene and Agnes O'Neill's Peaked Hill Bar house when she rented it from O'Neill, and Three Women (1938). After her divorce from the artist Celian Ufford, she married Morris Robert Werner, an editor and the author of biographies of P. T. Barnum, William Jennings Bryan, and Horace Greeley. Dividing her time between Provincetown and Greenwich Village, Hawthorne became known in later years as the literary doyenne of Provincetown, and "the queen of the sand dunes" because of her devotion to preserving the solitary life of the writer in the &mous shacks there, including her own.

Hazel Louise Hawthorne was born October 24, 1901, in Middleborough, MA. Her father, William Abram Harthorne, was a teacher and high school principal before becoming superintendent of schools in Middleborough. He died when Hazel was 12, a loss that affected her deeply. Her mother, Martha Esther Mills, lived to be 94. Hazel was a cousin of Charles Hawthorne, the painter, and a descendent of Nathaniel Hawthorne. She had one brother, Roger, who died many years ago. Hazel Hawthorne Werner was a friend of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana and John Cheever. It was Werner who first took Cheever to Provincetown.

She married a man named Celian Ufford (1896-1982), who was a Harvard graduate and a Unitarian minister. They had five children by the time Hazel was 27. Her oldest daughter, Jane A Ufford (1920-1982), died in 1982 at the age of 62. She had been married to AI Avellar, who started the Dolphin fleet of whale-watch boats. Her youngest daughter, Sarah Williams "Sally" Ufford (1928-1999), died in June 1999, at the age of 71. Two daughters survived her, Nancy Ethel Ufford Peters (1925-2000), who lived in Chatham, and Margaret Susheila Ufford Brown (1922-2007), of Long Beach, CA. There was also a son, John Hawthorne Ufford (1924-1984). All of Hazel’s children have suffered to some degree from the same rare degenerative condition which has been gradually eroding her own physical capacities for at least the last 50 years. Hazel had 22 grandchildren.

The Uffords were divorced about 1930, and two of the children, Margaret and John, went to live with their father in California. Hazel was left to care for the other three. She married Morris R. Werner (1897-1983) of New York City in the early 1930’s. He was the author of 16 books of nonfiction, and wrote for various newspapers and magazines. They spent winters in New York, and Hazel spent her summers in Provincetown, settling here year round when her husband died in 1981. She lived in a converted garage up in the woods off Howland Street, which she rented from Sonny Tasha, until 1990, when she became too disabled to live on her own.

Hazel Hawthorne Ufford Werner organized literary salons in Provincetown and Greenwich Village, where she mingled with established writers E.E. Cummings, Edmund Wilson, John Dos Passos, and Clare Leighton, and novelists Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer. Greenwich Village flourished as the center of American Bohemian society between 1910 and 1960, while Provincetown and the dune shacks served as a summer workplace and social retreat fueled by a steady, ever-changing flow of artists, writers, socialites, activists, and intellectuals. American Bohemians are characterized as influential, inventive radicals who promoted individual expression and challenged traditional ideals regarding aesthetics, commercialism, societal roles, sexuality, and politics in response to increased emphasis on mass culture, production, and materialism. Werner, who contributed to the progressively voiced, New Yorker Magazine and wrote book reviews for the New Republic, frequently hosted productive gatherings of her peers in her two dune shacks. She purchased the Hazel Hawthorne Werner (Thalassa) Shack in 1936 and Hazel Hawthorne Werner (Euphoria) Shack in 1946 with writer/editor Maurice Werner, who she married in the early 1930s. Werner named the Thalassa Shack after a Greek mythological sea goddess and referred to her second shack as Euphoria to reflect her feelings about the dune landscape.

Hazel wrote two novels. Salt House was published in 1934, and Three Women in 1938. The first is a story, only slightly fictionalized, about a group of dissolute young artists and writers splitting time between New York City and the dunes of Cape Cod. The second takes place on the Cape during the Civil War. Hazel also published five stories in The New Yorker during the 1930’s and 1940’s. She met and befriended some of the greatest writers of the century, and is responsible for bringing a good many of them to Provincetown.

Hazel fell in love with the dunes landscape on the back shore upon her first visit here about 1920. She purchased her first dunes shack, Thalassa, in 1936 for $50 from Louis Silva, a local Coast Guardsman who had built it. She bought a second one in 1943, which she named Euphoria, from a woman from Brookline. Aside from spending a great deal of time in them herself, Hazel has rented time in one or the other of her shacks to hundreds of people over the years, glad to share the wonders of dunes living to any who wanted to try it. For the last dozen years of her life, her two shacks had been lovingly maintained and managed, with her permission, by the Peaked Hill Trust, an organization which had advocated for the preservation and continued use of the remaining shacks. Her shacks went to the Park Service upon her death.

Hazel lived all but the last few years of her life on her own terms, with little regard for the conventions or prevailing moral code of her times. She loved the company of creative and intelligent people, with a well known preference for men. She was charming, quick-witted, and loved to laugh. She loved to cook and was good at it. She loved to have fun. She was also a passionate environmentalist long before the term was invented, and had been an active supporter throughout her life of causes, candidates, and organizations whose ideals she believed in.

The Hazel Hawthorne Werner (Euphoria) Shack (LCS No. 040403, MHC No. PRO.1500, contributing building) is located at the periphery of the central grouping of shacks. Its distance of about 300 feet from Snail Road and the closest adjacent building enhances the isolated quality of its immediate setting. The shack is set back approximately 550 feet from the coastline atop a subtly sloped dune ridge and is approached by a narrow vehicular trail that extends northwest from the Inner Dune Route to the north of the building. The shack faces east toward the vehicular trail and has sweeping views of the ocean horizon and dune valley. Sections of sand fencing around the shack roughly define an informal yard, which includes an associated outhouse. A birdhouse, stone birdbath, simple clothesline, and a seating area made with salvaged wood add interest to the landscape north of the shack. Views to the south look out over an adjacent cranberry bog toward the inner dune ridge and Pilgrim Monument in the distance. The Euphoria Shack is one of the simplest extant buildings in the district. Its shed-roofed, one-story volume measures approximately 16 feet by 12 feet and incorporates a 4-foot wide full-length entrance deck. Six wood pilings support lateral joists that carry the weight of the balloon-framed structure. The deck is supported by a single concrete pier and wood posts that extend above the deck floor to function as part of a plank safety railing. Open riser plank stairs ascend 5 feet to the deck, providing access to a board-and-batten door that serves as the main entrance. The stairs feature a plank railing accented with twig banisters. Natural lighting is achieved through a pair of small windows on the north and south (side) elevations and single windows on the opposite elevations. The variety of wood windows on the building includes oneover-one double-hung, and one-light, three-light, and six-light hinged sash. Miscellaneous items are stored on the ground under the shack. The main entrance opens to a single room with exposed framing and sheathing boards and natural pine board floors. Simple plank shelves and hinged, fold-down tables are hung from the walls. The kitchen is defined by a freestanding wash basin and flanking wall-mounted counter. Bunk beds arranged against the west wall serve as the only sleeping space. The shack is heated by a cast-iron wood stove that sits in a sand hearth along the south wall. According to former shack owner Hazel Hawthorne Werner, James Meades, a town builder reportedly built the extant Euphoria Shack for Cora F. Holbrook in c. 1939. The original appearance of the shack is unknown, but few significant alterations have been made since at least the 1960s and possibly since writer Hazel Hawthorne Werner purchased it in 1943. She moved the shack back from the shore about seventy feet in 1952 (Donaldson et al. 2011). From this time, the shack retains its historic same orientation, massing, height above grade, and general fenestration pattern. Necessary replacements of surface materials and select framing members began in 1983. The one-over-one sash in the shack date to the 1980s, when the window and door frames were replaced and the entrance deck was constructed. Two sills and a central girt supporting the shack were replaced in about 1990.

The Hazel Hawthorne Werner (Euphoria) Outhouse (non-contributing building) is located about 30 feet in front (east) of the Werner (Euphoria) Shack near the vehicle trail and faces north. The building is one of five identical outhouses in the district designed by William Fitts of the Peaked Hill Trust (PHT) with a boat hull-shaped form and built by the PHT in 1991. The outhouse sits on a frame of four-inch by four-inch posts and is constructed of plywood painted in a sand color. Its concave sides meet at a point, forming a roof that is continuous with the walls. Clapboard siding made from unfinished planks sheath the upper two-thirds of these side walls. The clapboard forms an overhang at the top of the facade to protect a triangular vent in the peak. The opposite (south) peak contains a vent pipe above a small square screen. A solid, plywood door centered on the facade provides access to a single seat compost toilet inside. The interior finishes consist of the exposed concave ribs of the hull-shaped frame with plank sheathing on the east and west walls, and the exposed plywood sheathing on the north and south walls.

The Hazel Hawthorne Werner (Thalassa) Shack (LCS No. 040398, MHC No. PRO.1505, contributing building) is perched on the peak of the foredune, 100 feet from the coastline and is within the central group of shacks. It faces north overlooking the ocean and a nearby bench on the dune crest that provides a place to enjoy the sweeping views. A circular sand walkway cut into the grass and a birdbath carved out of a stone complete this quiet seating area. The Inner Dune Route located to the south is in close proximity to the shack. A vehicular access way extends northwest from the route and connects to a branch trail continuing east along the windward face of the dune toward the shack. Narrow footpaths connect the shack facade to the vehicle trail, seating area, and an associated outhouse to the northeast. The remnants of a weathered wood picnic table are partially submerged in the sand north of the shack. The Werner (Thalassa) Shack is a compact, 12-foot by 9-foot, one-story, balloon-framed building with a side gable roof. Pressure-treated wood posts raise the structure a few feet above grade. An open, full-width deck on the facade is accessed by a plank ramp. The deck measures 5 feet deep and is surrounded by a simple safety railing consisting of planks spanning between wood corner posts. A plain wood door at the west end of the facade serves as the only entrance to the building and is adjacent to a picture window formed by two wood casement windows flanking a larger fixed window. A single-light, square awning window is centered on each of the other three elevations. The interior of the shack contains a single room with exposed roof framing, sheathing boards, and tongue-and-groove pine board floors. A kitchen area located in the southwest corner of the room is equipped with a shallow sink, countertop, builtin cabinets, gas stove, and gas refrigerator. Sleeping space is arranged in the southeast corner and open plank shelves are present throughout the room. Coast Guardsman Louis Silva built the extant shack as a seasonal rental in about 1931 using materials salvaged from shipwrecks and the former Peaked Hill Bars Life Saving Station building. The nearby Mayo shack blew into the sea and nearby shacks, including Thalassa were precariously located. Writer Hazel Hawthorne Werner purchased Thalassa in the late 1930s and moved it in 1949 from its original location near the Fearing shack to the site of the former World War II watch tower to the east. The exact original appearance of the shack is unknown but the building appears to retain its historic structural system, and massing, plan, fenestration, and craftsmanship dating to at least the 1960s. Exterior surface materials were replaced as necessary during the late twentieth century and the awning windows were replaced in 1989. Continuing sand encroachment caused rot to the underside of the structure and select floor framing members were replaced along with the foundation posts in 2004.

The Hazel Hawthorne Werner (Thalassa) Outhouse (non-contributing building) is located about 40 feet northeast of the Thalassa Shack and is accessed from a footpath cut through the beach grass. It faces west toward the shack. The building is one of five identical outhouses in the district designed by William Fitts of the PHT with a boat hull-shaped form and built by the PHT in 1991. The exterior plywood is painted the same turquoise color as the Margo/Gelb Outhouse described above.


My published books:

See my published books

BACK TO HOME PAGE