The Idea

Imagine a dramatic hilltop campus situated on a high bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean – a place where the environment is protected and studied, where the arts are nurtured, taught and displayed, where people are exploring new concepts in the environment, science, or collaborations with artists, and where people are offered a variety of programs that link the past with the present and envision the future. This image is the vision for Highlands Center at Cape Cod National Seashore. The concept is to redevelop the old North Truro Air Force Station in North Truro, Massachusetts into a multi-use facility for use by non-profit organizations, government agencies providing services on the Cape, and public and private institutions as partner organizations, on one of the most beautiful spots on earth.

In December, 1994, transfer of the site was split between National Park Service (NPS), to be administered by Cape Cod National Seashore, and Federal Aviation Administration, for continuing its radar operation identifying and tracking aircraft coming from the sea. NPS, working with Outer Cape communities and agencies as well as regional organizations, identified the issues and opportunities associated with reuse of its portion, 110 acres. This extensive community outreach and planning resulted in a clear mandate that reuse of this valuable site should stimulate local economy, respect and preserve the environment, foster the local tradition of working artists and craftspeople, provide year-round programming and expand environmental education opportunities. These principals are outlined in the Park’s 1998 General Management Plan and a 1999 Site Plan and Environmental Assessment prepared by NPS. Useful buildings and approximately 80 acres of open space would become Highlands Center at Cape Cod National Seashore, a collaborative of organizations where creative people can work, communicate, and learn, with inspiration from the surrounding community, local history and culture, and the striking landscape setting of North Truro Highlands.