The Studio is located on Rocky Neck and was first built during the late 1800’s. Its earliest purpose was as a fish warehouse before it expanded its plank wharf and was remade into a fish glue manufacturer. In 1920, Hugh Henry Breckenridge (1870-1937 ), avant garde painter, instructor and dean at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, founded a summer art school on Rocky Neck which was to become a critical force in bringing notable younger artists to the area during the period between the two World Wars. Breckenridge’s reputation for innovativeness and talent as a colorist—together perhaps with his tuition of but $10 a week or $75 for eight weeks—kept his classes filled for almost two decades. In 1926 when asked “Why Gloucester?” Breckenridge was quick to cite the visual stimuli afforded by the gritty locale.
“It is because Gloucester has everything that an artist wants…Here is a port more like a quaint foreign port than any other waterfront in the United States. There are strange and beautiful craft. There are the interesting characters of the fishing colony. There are fascinating colors in the streets, in the buildings, in the bronzed faces of the men who brave the raging seas and keep ever fresh in Gloucester the glamour of romance about the business of seafaring, the stories of shipwrecks, of heroism and of thrills like those the sword fisherman experiences. Flowers grow wondrously for those who like to paint flowers and denizens of the ocean are disgorged by the boat load to the joy of those who strive to put on canvas the opalescent hues of fish. There are magnificent skies and impressive shores. There is material for artists in the whole range from portraiture to pickled herring.”
Many Breckenridge School alumni became nationally acclaimed artists and continued to be drawn to Rocky Neck each summer. After the shoreline was extended further into the cove to compensate for the expansion of Rocky Neck the old warehouse was bought by Fredrick Wheelock and renamed to The Studio in 1949. In 1962 it was bought and renamed to The Studio Lounge and Deck and has held that name since.