Mission for Modernism: Breuer's Wellfleet Cottage

Virtual event


Gunny Harboe, FAIA, Fellow US/ICOMOS

Peter McMahon

Eric Keune

Image details

Join us for the second event in our Mission for Modernism series with Peter McMahon of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, who will discuss the legacy, history and current conditions of Marcel Breuer's modern cottage in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. 

In the early 1940s Marcel Breuer purchased land on Cape Cod, where he planned a colony of experimental modern homes. Inspired by rustic New England cabins, wharfs and perhaps the oyster shacks that were still found in Wellfleet Harbor, Breuer conceived what was to become one of his two main house types. At the time, Breuer and his colleagues were experimenting with prototype houses that could be easily planned, sold and constructed for reasonable cost across the country. Breuer designed his ‘Long House’ prototype for this purpose and used it to build his own Wellfleet cottage as well as commissioned houses in New Canaan and Litchfield CT, and others in Wellfleet, one a mirror image of the Breuer Cottage. 

Though the colony never materialized, Breuer's friends still made their way to Wellfleet. The Saarinen family, Alexander Calder, Saul Steinberg, Florence Knoll, Xanti Schawinsky, Bernard Rudovsky and many others were part of this community of creators and thinkers who inhabited the Wellfleet woods in the summers of the mid-20th century.

Although the home has had years of deferred maintenance, the cottage remains remarkably intact and original. The art collection, which has recently been removed and conserved, includes a painting that Alexander Calder did while visiting, a Paul Klee Lithograph, paintings and works on paper by Bauhaus alumni Xanti Schawinsky and Herbert Bayer, and bronze sculptures by Costentino Nivola.


Wednesday April 21, 2021
5:00 - 6:00 pm Eastern
The half-hour presentation will be followed by a discussion and live Q&A session with Docomomo US Directors Gunny Harboe and Eric Keune.

Free for Docomomo US and Cape Code Modern House Trust members.
Recommended $15 donation for non-members. After registering, you will recieve a confirmation email with a link to donate.

This course has been approved for 1 LU | AIA CES credit

Advance registration required


Mission for Modernism would not be possible without the generous support of the following partners and sponsors. Visit our Mission for Modernism page to see how you can become a sponsor.

Single Program Sponsor


Since 1992, DSGN Associates has provided architectural, planning, interior design, and graphic design services to stellar clients around the world. Our project types are diverse and include single and multi-family residential, retail and mixed-use centers, offices and work places, civic facilities, and urban planning. Our work includes both new construction and adaptive reuse of pre-war and post-war historic buildings.

Learn more

Mission for Modernism is sponsored by a Humanities New York CARES Emergency Relief Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Mission for Modernism is sponsored by a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation through the National Trust Preservation Fund. For more information on national preservation grant funding, visit www.Forum.SavingPlaces.org/funding