Kerry urges National Park Service Special Designation for Provincetown's Dune Shacks as "Traditional Cultural Property"
Senator John Kerry today urged the National Park Service (NPS) to designate the historic Dune Shacks on Cape Cod as "traditional cultural property."
The Dune Shacks, built in the late 19th century, were home to many artists captivated by the landscape, enchanted by the views and inspired by the area's beauty. Artists such as Eugene O'Neill, Jackson Pollack, Jack Kerouac, John Dos Passos, Edmund Wilson, Susan Glaspell and Harry Kemp called the Dune Shacks home. These artists left an indelible mark on the history and culture of Provincetown.
"For more than one hundred years, the Dune Shacks were the place where brilliant works of art and writing were born. Provincetown's history and identity is inseparable from the Dune Shacks," said Senator Kerry. "I strongly urge the National Park Service to designate the Dune Shacks as a Traditional Cultural Property. The designation will give the long-term Dune Shack dwellers a right to be actively involved in the future management of the area and ensure that the Dune Shacks continue to represent the cultural identity that has inhabited the area for the last century."
Since acquiring the dune district in 1961, the National Park Service has leased some of the Dune Shacks to two non-profit organizations, the Provincetown Community Compact and the Peaked Hill Trust, while allowing long-term Dune Shack dwellers to remain in their homes as determined by various legal rulings and settlement agreements.
A Traditional Cultural Property is "a property associated with the historic cultural practices, beliefs or customs of a living community that (a) are rooted in that community's history and (b) are important to maintaining the continuing cultural identity of that community."
The NPS has argued that the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District is not a Traditional Cultural Property because "the groups that claim traditional associations were (and continue to be) fluid, evolving, and different from one year to the next." While some of the population varies year to year based on the rental property administered by the Provincetown Community Compact and the Peaked Hill Trust, Kerry believes that this in no way diminishes the value of the culture, especially given that many of the shacks are occupied by multiple generations of the same family and some individuals have made the shacks their home for over 50 summers.