Tucked In Provincetown's Dunes, Famed Artist Shacks Still Stand

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe took a ride over the iconic sand dunes of Provincetown and Truro this week with Robert Costa, the owner of Art's Dune Tours.

The unique, family-run business is still going strong on Cape Cod, some six decades after it was founded.

Robert's father Art started the company back in 1958. Now, his is the only dune tour service still running in Provincetown.

The dunes they tour cover 1,950 acres of land; about 75 percent of the land in Provincetown and Truro is made up of the dunes and the National Seashore.

For Robert, it's a piece of paradise—and it's also keeping his father's legacy alive.

"For generations, we've always enjoyed as a family taking people out to what I call the Outback of Provincetown," he said.

Highlights of the tour include the 19 remaining artists' dune shacks, which were inhabited by the likes of Eugene O'Neill, Sinclair Lewis, Jackson Pollack, ee cummings, Harry Kemp, Norman Mailer, Tennessee Williams, and Jack Kerouac.

A caravan of six large SUVs rolled up and down over the giant hills and slopes of the protected dunes as Costa pointed out where some of those luminaries lived and worked.

"A lot of famous people lived out here," Costa said. "The one shack to the right is where Annie Dillard wrote her last book, The Maytrees, about a dune-dwelling family."

The shacks started cropping up in the 1920s. Some were constructed using driftwood from shipwrecked boats.

They're registered as national historic places; most of them are now owned by the government, which leases them out to nonprofits.

"They turn them into artist-in-residency programs," Costa said. "Artists of different sorts can come out to the shacks, create whatever they do, whatever form, and hopefully share it with the community. The idea behind it is to preserve the shacks in their use, as opposed to just empty shacks in the dunes."

You can learn more about how to apply for a residency in the shacks here.

But be prepared—they have no running water and no electricity, and are literally in the middle of nowhere.

Those who have stayed in the shacks say it's like a week in paradise, and you feel like you're at the end of the earth. Costa said he's stayed in one, too.

"It's very, very beautiful, and what's really cool is, you hear the coyotes yapping at night, you see the stars, it's really pretty," he said.

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WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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