History of Gull Hill and our Cape Cod Inn

Cape Cod InnThe property known as Gull Hill is first mentioned in the 1871 will of Captain Jonathan Nickerson, a member of a prominent fishing family. This area of Provincetown was called “way up along.” Here, one was truly at the land’s end, since the road terminated where the Red Inn now stands. Beyond that were only tidal flats, marshes and grass farms.

Charles Lothrop Higgins, born in Provincetown on April 9, 1863, purchased Gull Hill in 1903. Higgins was the son of two old Cape Cod families. His mother traced her ancestry back to the Pilgrims, to Peregrine White, who had been born on the Mayflower in Provincetown Harbor in 1620. On his father’s side, Mr. Higgins descended from the 1644 settlers of Nauset, a region that included what is now Wellfleet, Eastham and Orleans.

Cape Cod InnAlthough he was raised in Gloucester, Mr. Higgins studied in the West Indies. He was a world traveler and well-known lecturer, and lived in the fashionable sections of Boston’s Beacon Hill and Back Bay. Mr. Higgins belonged to the oldest and most prestigious fraternity there—the Mason’s St. Johns Lodge—and drove a Liberty car. He was a haberdasher on Boston’s Newbury Street. Never married, he built a summer home at Gull Hill in 1904, and lived there as a single gentleman. Friend to many in the arts and theater, Mr. Higgins began the Land’s End Inn’s history of supporting Provincetown’s creative community.

When he built the bungalow, it was unusual to site a residence set back so far and so high from the road. The tedious climb for the owners, guests, staff and anyone making deliveries was not alleviated until the 1950s, when a drive was paved to the top from Point Street.

Built on stilts to add elevation—an early version of air conditioning—the house had porches that imitated the decks of a ship, which afforded views from every side. Inside the house, windows rolled up and down into the woodwork to assist with cross-ventilation. In addition to the stained glass and the art nouveau chandelier that crowned the house in 1904, there were two faucets of running water.

In 1909, having already purchased the beachfront property, Mr. Higgins bought a large white, steep-roofed house that was situated near the present steps to the Inn. He moved this house down the street, where it became known as the candy store. Mr. Higgins then had an unimpeded view of the beach and owned all the property at the end of the Cape.

Cape Cod InnAfter Mr. Higgins’ death in 1926, the Buckler family purchased Higgins’ summer home and offered rooms for rent. Land’s End Inn was then known for its hospitality and Russian Tea Room. The Bucklers traveled globally and brought back artifacts from around the world, many of which can be found in the Inn today. The Bucklers owned the property until 1955 when two gentlemen, Jules Wade and Norman Lague, acquired it and added a heating system.

David Schoolman took over this Cape Cod Inn in 1972. The significant changes he made included adding the large veranda and new tower at the front of the building, extending the rooms on the main level, and adding private baths. Many of the artifacts, museum-quality art, and antiques seen around the Inn today were his additions. When he passed away in 1995, the Inn passed into the David Schoolman Trust, which he organized to benefit the theater community in Provincetown and the current Provincetown Theater was largely funded from the Schoolman Trust fund.

Cape Cod InnIn 2001 Michael MacIntyre acquired the Land’s End Inn from the Trust and committed himself to preserving the Inn’s integrity as a Provincetown landmark. An architecture buff, Michael integrated some of today’s comforts and amenities—luxury bedding, furnishings, artwork, and air conditioning—while consciously working to preserve the heritage and history associated with the Inn. Decks were enlarged for expanded panoramic water views, the gardens were reinvigorated, and comfortable outdoor wicker furniture was added. Using plans developed by David Schoolman over thirty years prior, local stonemasons relayed the entrance path and walls. The architectural integrity, tranquility and artifacts remained.

Something else was added when Kathleen Turner came to stay. Two days before her arrival, her publicist contacted Michael in somewhat of a panic: he discovered the lack of televisions after reading through the Inn’s website. It turned out Ms. Turner was addicted to CNN and couldn’t sleep without it on all night long. An electrician was called, a contract was signed with the cable company, and a 48” TV was bought and installed in the room that was to be Ms. Turner’s. When she arrived, she was thrilled with Land’s End Inn and her suite, and was especially grateful for the effort of installing a TV just for her. Since then she has been a regular guest of the Inn, TVs have been discreetly installed in all guest rooms, and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.

Ms. Turner isn’t the only recognizable name to grace the halls atop Gull Hill. Because of its serene atmosphere, the Land’s End Inn provides the perfect get away for those looking to escape the real world including celebrities, writers and artists. During the Provincetown International Film Festival, the Inn hosts many visiting celebrities who return to visit throughout other times of the year. You truly never know who you will encounter when you stay at Land’s End Inn.

The Inn was purchased by Stan and Eva Sikorski in 2012. World travelers and art lovers, Provincetown has been a treasured part of life for the Sikorskis for over 45 years, and they are dedicated to continuing the high standards Land’s End Inn guests have come to love.  They also continue the tradition of supporting the arts community including regular fundraisers and direct support for Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Fine Arts Work Center, Open Mic. Café, Nonviolent Peaceforce, and many individual visual and performance artists.