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Peaked Hill Bars Dune Shacks At Cape Cod National Seashore Added To Register of Historic Places


Nineteen dune shacks at Cape Cod National Seashore have been officially added to the National Register of Historic Places. NPS photo.

A collection of artists' shacks set in the dunes of Cape Cod National Seashore has been added to the National Register of Historic Places following two years of study.

The listing was officially made on March 15. 

To complete the nomination for the Peaked Hill Bars shacks, the National Park Service employed historical architects and historians from PAL, Inc. The 60-page nomination documents the numerous facets of the 1,950-acre district that make it significant: dune shack architecture; associations with art and literature; the life of Harry Kemp; potential archeological resources; and the complex strands of maritime history, recreation, and the efforts of long-time dune shack dwellers who lovingly crafted homes amidst the shifting sands of the backshore of Truro and Provincetown.

"Listing the dune shack district is the culmination of an extraordinary process not commonly seen in the National Register world - we relied on a combination of the researchers from PAL, Inc., national park scholars and staff of the Massachusetts Historical Commission who reviewed numerous drafts, and substantial input from current and past dune shack dwellers and advocates who had the passion and knowledge to share about the district," said seashore Superintendent George Price. "Their contributions make the nomination a superb baseline document from which to draw from when moving forward with our preservation and use plan for the district, which is nearing completion."

The National Register is the nation's official list of buildings, districts, sites, structures, and objects important in American history, culture, architecture, or archeology. The Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District, located within Cape Cod National Seashore, was found eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, but lacked formal listing until now.

Eighteen of the 19 dune shacks are owned by the Park Service and are currently occupied by different groups and individuals under a variety of administrative instruments, such as leases, permits, and agreements.

The Park Service, with invaluable assistance from a subcommittee of the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission, is nearing completion of an Environmental Assessment. The EA will establish a Dune Shack Historic District Preservation and Use Plan that will provide clear direction and consistency for NPS managers, dune shack dwellers, users, and advocates.

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