Motif Number 1

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Motif Number 1 in July 2009

Motif Number 1, located on Bradley Wharf in the harbor town of Rockport, Massachusetts, is a replica of a former fishing shack well known to students of art and art history as "the most often-painted building in America."[1][2] The original structure was built in 1840 and destroyed in the Blizzard of 1978,[1] but an exact replica was constructed that same year.[3]

Built in the 1840s as Rockport was becoming home to a colony of artists and settlement of fishermen, the shack became a favorite subject of painters due to the composition and lighting of its location as well as being a symbol of New England maritime life. Painter Lester Hornby (1882–1956) is believed to be the first to call the shack "Motif Number 1,"[2] a reference to its being the favorite subject of the town's painters, and the name achieved general acceptance.

In the 1930s, painter John Buckley used the shack as his studio.[4] He sold it to the town in 1945, dedicated "In 1945, the town of Rockport purchased the Motif as a monument to Rockporters who had served in the Armed Services."[5] The town, recognizing its iconic value, has taken pains to preserve both its structure and appearance, finding a red paint which appears weather-beaten even when new,[3] and keeping the area clear of overhead wires, traffic signs and advertising.


  1. ^ a b "A look back at the Blizzard of 1978".
  2. ^ a b Vincent, Caitlin. (2007). Roadtripping USA: The Complete Coast-to-Coast Guide to America. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-36182-3
  3. ^ a b Harris, Patricia and Lyon, David. (2006). You Know You're in Massachusetts When...: 101 Quintessential Places, People, Events, Customs, Lingo, and Eats of the Bay State. Globe Pequot. ISBN 0-7627-4132-5
  4. ^ "The Literary Life". Time Magazine, 1942.
  5. ^ Bartlett, Leslie. (2002). Motif No.1: The Little Fish Shack Which Refused to Go Away Archived 2009-05-23 at the Wayback Machine.

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Coordinates: 42°39′33.37″N 70°36′53.55″W / 42.6592694°N 70.6148750°W / 42.6592694; -70.6148750