Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District - Page 2

Stanley and Laura Fowler

Town of Provincetown (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.07658, -70.16050

stanley and laura fowler_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

Built in 1949, this shack was home to Laura and Stanley Fowler. They lived in the shack almost year-round, prompting an unusual feature: a garage. The couple, known for protecting their privacy, were not artists but loved the dunes. When it was constructed the shack overlooked a freshwater pond, but the movement of a barrier dune filled the pond with sand. The Provincetown Community Compact manages the shack and conducts a writer-in-residence program on the site.

Al Fearing/Bessay-Fuller "The Grail"

Town of Provincetown (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.07687, -70.15964

fearing fuller bessay shack_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

The Fearing/Fuller/Bessay shack was built in 1931 but a Coast Guardsman. It was occupied by Dorothy Fearing and then Andrew Fuller and Grace Bessay. This shack is notable for its long-running legal dispute with the Parks Service over its ownership and occupancy (1967-1991). Grace Bessay’s suit was considered the longest lawsuit against the U.S. Government to maintain ownership of “The Grail”, though she ultimately lost. When Bessay died, care of the shack was passed to artist Peter Clemons. He was granted permission to build a small studio near the shack in 2007.

Jean Chanel (“Frenchie’s”)

Town of Provincetown (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.07707, -70.15848

chanel shack_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

Built on the site of the Coast Guard Station, the Chanel shack was built from driftwood and found materials in the 1940s by Jean “Frenchie” Chanel. Frenchie, came to the Cape with Bette Davis via Broadway, and fell in love. Friend and preservationist Josephine Del Deo spent time at Frenchie’s cabin, remembering how Frenchie would post the tern nests long before the Parks Service, protecting the shore birds. The original cabin, and the one that came after both fell victim to sand burial. The existing structure sits atop the older ones.

"Thalassa" (Hazel Hawthorne Werner)

Town of Provincetown (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.07682, -70.15701

thalassa_hazel hawthorne werner_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

A similar story to the Euphoria cabin, Thalassa was constructed in 1931 by a Coast Guardsman called Spucky. He’s said to have used salvaged windows from the life-saving station. In later years it was said that the ghosts of shipwrecked sailors haunted the shack. Werner acquired the building in 1936 (for $50) and hosted well-known writers and artists in the shack including e.e. cummings. The shack is now under the management of the Peaked Hill Trust.

Theodore and Eunice Braaten Shack

Town of Provincetown (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.07629, -70.15588

theodore and eunice braaten shack_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

Built by Coast Guardsmen P.C. Cook and Joe Medeiros in 1931, the Braatens acquired the shack in 1934 and spent time in it seasonally. The shack was leased to the U.S. Navy for mine testing during World War II. As of 2011 it was the only shack occupied year-round. The shack is near a protected nesting area for the Piping Plover, a threatened shorebird. The shack is equipped with wind and solar power and is unmistakable with an Adirondack chair perched on the roofline.

Margaret Watson Shack

Town of Truro (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.07555, -70.15247

margaret watson shack_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

The Watson shack was built in 1931 and rented in the summers for $5 a week. Margaret “Peg” Watson called the shack home from the mid 1930s until 1972. Watson was known for her open-door policy, harkening back to days of the Life-Saving Stations. Josephine Del Deos remembered how Watson longed to visit the dunes late into her life when she was crippled by arthritis, claiming that she died trying to crawl across the dunes towards her beloved cottage.

Nicholas and Ray Wells Shack

Town of Truro (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.07355, -70.14998

nicholas and ray wells shack_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

The Wells shack was built in 1935 by a Coast Guardsmen called Bunny, using the materials from a collapsed shack. Soon after, Ray Wells and her husband Nicholas Wells took up residence. Ray Wells was a painter and advocate for artists, and her husband was a realtor and builder. The couple founded the Provincetown Theater Workshop in the 1970’s. The Peaked Hill Trust has been working to combat the erosion threatening the shack and has managed it since Wells’ death at the age of 103 in 2011.

Randolph and Annabelle Jones Shack

Town of Truro (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.07364, -70.14444

randolph and annabelle jones shack_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

The Jones shack was built in 1935 and was used by Coast Guardsman Frank Henderson throughout the 1930’s. After a brief period of abandonment, the shack was acquired by Randolph and Annabelle Jones in the 1940’s. The structure was moved back from shoreline in the 1970s and various stabilization methods have been employed to combat the steep dunes surrounding the shack. The Joneses had small gardens and window boxes during their tenure at the shack.

David and Connie Armstrong Shack

Town of Truro (Lower Cape)

Lat/Long: 42.06828, -70.12561

david and connie armstrong shack_ dune shacks of peaked hill bars historic district
courtesy of National Park Service

The most isolated and most easterly of the remaining dune shacks, Armstrong was built in 1926 by Provincetown entrepreneur Pat Patrick. The shack, originally built for fishing, was rehabilitated, and restored in 1948 when it was acquired by David and Connie Armstrong. Three stormy weeks in the early 1980s removed 23 feet of sand that separated the shack from the shoreline, necessitating a move 400 feet inland in 1983.

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