Mechanic Street is graced with not one but two wonderful sculpture gardens that are the imaginative work of the women whose families have long lived on this road. We’ve already seen Avis Johnson’s garden at 8 Mechanic. This charming and slightly more understated permanent exhibition at No. 27 is the work of Pauline Caroline (Peters) Costa (b 1941), who bought this house in 1965 with her husband, Capt. Wayne Louis “Duke” Costa (1939-1999), pictured here. The Costas purchased the property from the Gracie family, which had held it since 1886. (To put that in perspective, it changed hands during the first administration of President Grover Cleveland, then not again until the second term of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and never since.)
Manuel Morris Gracie (±1852-1931) was born on Pico in the Azores. He came to the United States when he was in late 20s, in 1882, spending time in Boston and Pennsylvania before settling in Provincetown and buying this property of James Carr. At the time, the parcel straddled Mechanic Street. (At least that’s what it looks like in the 1910 street atlas, though my suspicion is that an undivided lot came first that was only later bisected by Mechanic Street.) Costa family lore has it that the house was originally on Long Point. Among the schooners on which Gracie fished were the Governor Russell and the Longwood. His wife was Isabel (Medeiros) Gracie. Their children included Manuel F. Gracie, a well-known coast guardsman at Highland Station; Lillian Dorothy Gracie (±1893-1955), housekeeper of St. Peter’s parish house for 30 years; and Evelina Gracie, the owner of this property when it was transferred to the Costas. When he could no longer go to sea, Gracie turned to farming — perhaps on the parcel across from the main house, between Mechanic and Cottage Streets.
Pauline Costa is the daughter of Sherman J. Peters (±1917-2007) and Rita (Gray) Peters, who were married in 1937. They lived on Cottage Street. Pauline’s stated ambition in the Long Pointer was “to succeed in married life.” In June 1959, just after graduating from Provincetown High School, she was married at St. Peter’s — in Chantilly lace — to Wayne Costa, son of Lillian Costa, who lived nearby on Tremont Street. Wayne had just turned 20. He was a commercial fisherman most of the year, but in summers he worked on the charter sport-fishing boat Inca, which was skippered by his uncle, Gerald J. Costa Sr. (±1928-2012). The Costas lived first at 4A Conant Street and then at 348A Commercial Street before buying this property in 1965.
“My dad bought the house when it was broken down,” said Pam Costa, who was four years old at the time. “I remember the basement being the kitchen and the upstairs having holes in the floor.” While improving his house, Captain Costa was also earning a reputation on the waterfront as someone who “knew how to do any kind of fishing and could shuck 51 scallops a minute left-handed,” according to his obituary in The Cape Cod Times (6 November 1999). He and his brother Jerome were also credited with being “able to do engine repairs in 24 hours that professionals took a week to do,” The Times said. Wayne succeeded his uncle to the captaincy of the Inca, and worked aboard the whale-watch vessel Ranger from 1982 to 1998.
Mrs. Costa still lives at 27 Mechanic, as do two of her daughters, Jodi Costa and Melissa Costa, who took the photograph that opens this entry. • Assessor’s Online Database ¶ Posted 2013-03-30