Sprawling Tasha Hill has a mystical feeling, as if it were a fantastic movie set depicting ur-Provincetown: dense, communal, primitive, and modest; inventive, ingenious, improvised, and eccentric; romantic or shabby or mysterious, depending on your angle of vision and the time of day. Presiding over the compound is Paul Tasha, a fisherman and horseman; a child of Herman and Rose “Sunny” (Savage) Tasha, together with Carla, Carl, and Paula. This was the last home of Harry Kemp, the Poet of the Dunes, for whom Sunny built a cottage in 1959-1960. Other Tasha tenants have included the writers Hazel Hawthorne Werner (The Salt House), Christopher Bergland (The Athlete’s Way), and Mike Albo (Hornito). David Drake, director, actor, and playwright (The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me) has lived here, as has his alter ego Tawny Heatherton.
The main house was home to William Irving Atwood of the Consolidated Weir Company. The Tashas bought the property in 1944. Sunny built cottages of wood, flotsam and jetsam; Herman built in cement block. At No. 41R, Paul is building his own house, stone by stone, timber by timber. Himself. You might call it artisanal construction. You might also call it the single largest work of art in town, and an imposing labor of love. He broke ground in 1986. When I visited 24 years later, it was framed out. There were fine touches, like a stained-glass transom for a door that did not yet exist, but there weren’t any demising walls yet. I didn’t ask when it would be finished. That seemed beside the point.
More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.