Art Costa, Witness to the Histories of the Province Lands Dune Shacks

Oct 15, 2013

Each of the dune shacks in the Province Lands has its own unique character.
Credit Byron Cain / flickr

It was fifteen years ago this month that Kathy and I first met the late and legendary Art Costa, whom we had hired to drive us out to the Provincelands dunes in his van. At that time Art had been taking people out to the dunes for over fifty years. His business, Art’s Dune Tours, is a Provincetown institution and is carried on today by his son Rob.

Art was a large man with a big head, kind eyes, and red-dyed hair that made him look younger than his nearly 80 years. He was hard of hearing, and didn’t always respond to our questions. Instead, as we drove our the sand road, he launched into an automatic, but still enthusiastic “spiel” that he had been giving, elaborating, and refining for five decades.  Art’s stories followed a groove as well-worn, and occasionally shifting, as the sand road we traveled over. He talked about the old dune dwellers who had lived in the shacks back then, all of them now dead. But he had known all of them: Peg Watson, Charlie Schmid, Jan Gelb and Boris Margo, Ray and Nicky Wells, and Hazel Hawthorne, who bought the shack named Euphoria just before World War II. 

(Listen to Robert Finch's full reminiscence of Art Costa in the audio posted above.)