Feds Won't Evict 95-Year-Old Painter From Seaside Shack

They agree to deal with Salvatore Del Deo giving him 5 more years in longtime Cape Cod home
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 3, 2023 10:59 AM CDT
95-Year-Old Painter Told to Evict His Shack Gets Reprieve
Artist Salvatore Del Deo walks near the shack with the aid of son Romolo Del Deo on June 27 in Provincetown, Massachusetts.   (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via AP)

A 95-year-old painter and his family threatened with eviction from the Provincetown, Massachusetts, dune shack they've helped care for and occupy for nearly eight decades have won a reprieve. A legal team representing the painter worked out an agreement with federal officials that allows Salvatore Del Deo and his family to continue to live in and maintain the shack for five years, according to son Romolo Del Deo. The shack is one of a number dotting the more remote reaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore, located within the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District in Provincetown and Truro, per the AP. The isolated shacks have no electricity or indoor plumbing and are prized for their uninterrupted solitude.

The family was abruptly evicted by the National Park Service over the summer when the agency opted to start a bidding process to let the public apply for up to 10-year leases to occupy eight of the shacks. The shack occupied by the Del Deos wasn't among the eight, but it could be included in future bidding rounds. Romolo Del Deo said the family opted to fight the eviction, in part because of their decadeslong connection to the shack. "He's painted at that location for 77 years," he said of his father. "His connection to the place is very, very deep." The shacks have attracted artists, writers, and thinkers for more than 100 years and are haphazard constructions by design, he said.

"The beauty of these places is that they kind of surf the sand," he said. He noted that despite the eviction notice, the family refused to take their possessions out of the shack. Ultimately, the pro bono lawyers working for the family were able to help negotiate a deal with the help of the Department of the Interior that will allow them to lease the shack annually for another five years. Romolo Del Deo said those involved with the deal worked to wrap up the agreement before any government shutdown so the family could be back in the shack to celebrate the anniversary of the birthday of his late mother, Josephine, who helped with the creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore, "We've been hammering out an understanding and we are very pleased with the results," he said. "We did not want to relinquish our presence there."

(Read more Provincetown stories.)

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