881 Commercial Street

Beachcomber Colony Condominiums

Now, this is my idea of a 1920s tourist court — or call it a cottage colony or an auto camp: seven Lilliputian houses gathered in a cozy U. It could almost have served as the location set for the “walls of Jericho” scene in It Happened One Night. (Five points for you if you understand the reference at all; 10 bonus points if you recall that the fictional setting for that scene was Dyke’s Auto Camp.) Tourist courts were the forerunners of the motel. They sprang up nationwide in the 1920s and ’30s as travelers relied increasingly on their own automobiles.

Little cabins like these at the Beachcomber Colony offered numerous advantages to the motorist. You had only to walk a few steps from your vehicle to the door of your lodging. You didn’t have to go through a lobby or any common area in which your dusty, smelly riding clothes might embarrass you. And once inside, you had the privacy of four walls around you, instead of party walls through which to hear and be heard.

The Beachcomber Cottages offered “overnight and housekeeping units” and “beach privileges” at least through 1967, if not longer. The property was owned through 1959 by Dorothy Schueler and her husband (the namesakes, presumably, of nearby Schueler Boulevard). From 1959 until 1966, William G. Toll owned and ran the Beachcomber. He sold the property in 1966 to Doris and George Porter, who appear to have been the sponsors of the condominium conversion in 1981.




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