Historic Edward Hopper property in Truro gets conservation safeguard

Kaimi Rose Lum

What is left of the landscape that was painted by Edward Hopper from the studio of his small house in the Truro hills will remain unmarred by trophy homes or subdivisions if a proposal made earlier this week is approved by the Truro selectmen. On Tuesday, the owners of the historic Hopper House announced that they have offered a conservation restriction to the Truro Conservation Trust to preserve the seven-and-a-half acres surrounding the famous dwelling.

Anton and Larry Schiffenhaus, brothers who inherited the Hopper property from their mother Mary in 1970, have been working on the deal for a while now. In a phone interview on Tuesday, Anton Schiffenhaus said it was the encroachment of unwanted development that really motivated them to take action.

“Last year’s problem which developed over the Kline house convinced us more or less that unless we did something now to make sure there was some kind of preservation done, we would be leaving a large possibility that the property could be divided some time later and have two more Kline houses,” he said, referring to the controversy over the large home erected by Donald and Andrea Kline on a parcel of land adjoining the Schiffenhauses’.

“While it was a fairly substantial economic sacrifice, given the value of the land, we nevertheless decided, number one, the land and the house needed to be preserved because of its historical importance,” Schiffenhaus said. “Number two, we really wanted to keep it in the family and ensure that if sometime in the future it wasn’t in the family’s hands, the Hopper House and the land” — particularly the view across the top of the hill — “remained as it always has been.”

Under the terms of the conservation restriction, no new development can occur on the land apart from maintenance of the house and garage “in their current footprints and configuration within a quarter-acre area,” according to a press release issued by the Truro Conservation Trust. Schiffenhaus said another small quarter-acre area, “back against the right of way, down in a grove of locust,” was also put aside to accommodate a dwelling of up to 3,000 square feet in size, but the family was careful to site it so that, should a house be built there, “it would not intrude on the view of the Hopper House.” There are no plans to build there in the near future.

All in all, approximately 95 percent of the Schiffenhaus property will be preserved “in a forever-wild state under the negotiated terms of the CR,” the press release stated.

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