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Even After Sale, Historic Cape Cod Cottages Will Continue To Inspire Artists

Days Cottages. (Courtesy of Victoria Schepps)
Days Cottages. (Courtesy of Victoria Schepps)
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Those iconic beachfront cottages on Route 6A in Truro may be up for sale, but they will continue to be a source of inspiration for many artists — as they have been for decades.

As we reported Thursday, Days' Cottages hit the market this week. While they will no longer be under the ownership of the family that has operated them since 1931, the cottages will remain a Cape Cod fixture.

"For artists themselves who have plunked their easels on the side of the road or on the beach or have photographed them from a boat or a plane, those [cottages] are a huge piece of this landscape," said Chris McCarthy, the executive director of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.

The 22 identical cottages (also known as the flower cottages, since each is named after a flower) sit right on the beach in Cape Cod Bay. In Provincetown, you'd be hard pressed to find a souvenir shop that doesn't sell a postcard featuring the cottages.

"Every art gallery has something of those cottages," said photographer Angela Russo, who has an art studio in Provincetown. "It’s a special place. When you come over the hill and see those [cottages], you almost see those before you see the Provincetown monument and a lot of people say that that’s when they know they’re home. That’s a wonderful perspective on this place."

A painting of Days' Cottages. (Courtesy of Joe Days)
A painting of Days' Cottages. (Courtesy of Joe Days)

Russo has been a photographer for 40 years and only takes pictures of Cape Cod. She said one of her first photographs that really took off was of the cottages.

“I’m looking for unusual places and things that sort of represent old Cape Cod as opposed to new gentrified, repaired... I like the crunchy, crusty, old places that are actually disappearing, which make towns like this historic,” Russo said.

But what is it about the flower cottages in particular that has made them such a strong source of inspiration for so many other artists?

"It’s all about perspective on the horizon line," Russo said. "The way they sort of dash off into the distance one right after the other, all the same size and shape. It’s more about perspective and shape than almost anything else, and they're also very old."

McCarthy said the location of the cottages, their simple architecture and the way the light plays on them at all times of the year make them an appealing image to capture.

"Architecturally, the fact that they’re just white, but white against the blue water [and] the sky, which can be at any given moment purple, orange, yellow, gray, green, you name it," McCarthy said. "They pop on whatever background you’re going to give them."

"Beach Point Fog" (Courtesy of Angela Russo)
"Beach Point Fog" (Courtesy of Angela Russo)

The artistic appeal of the cottages also isn't lost on Joe Days, who currently owns the property.

"I realize they’re probably one of the most painted and photographed cottages ever," Days said. "I see them everywhere. [When] we go to Hawaii we see a picture of them in the lobby of one of the motels. I think that will stay. People will still paint them and people will still take pictures of them because nothing’s really going to change about them except for the owners."

The look and structure of the cottages actually can't change because the town of Truro won't allow them to be altered in any way, according to Days.

Since the cottages aren't going anywhere, they will likely continue to be the subject of professional artists and tourists who are just looking to capture their vacations on Instagram.

"It’s a complete draw because it represents what people remember when they’re here on the Cape and that’s why they want to send a postcard of them or paint a picture of them or take a photograph," McCarthy said.

A painting of Days' Cottages. (Courtesy of Joe Days)
A painting of Days' Cottages. (Courtesy of Joe Days)

Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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