716 Commercial Street

Breakwater Motel

The Breakwater Motel, one of the first in Provincetown, marks its 60th anniversary in 2013. In an era when travelers are supposed to care about the thread count in their sheets, its pitch is refreshingly modest: “The perfect choice if you are on a budget and just need a clean tidy room in a great location.” (The rates in 2012 ranged from $65 a night off-season to $175 a night in season.) Perhaps it was its location at the edge of town that kept the Breakwater from being a lightning rod when it was constructed in 1953 by Dick Bishop of Elizabeth, N.J., and Carl Bradley of Cranston, R.I.

“The Breakwater Motel filled up before paint and varnish were dry,” The Advocate reported late in 1953, “and its ‘No Vacancy’ sign was in use late in the season. For better than 100 days, it was turning people away. Figuring largely in its patronage were young honeymooners, who can be counted on for repeat visits, as well as rose-colored descriptions to friends.” Apparently more interested in starting a business than in running one, Bishop and Bradley sold the Breakwater that first winter to Alice Van Arsdale (±1893-1961), whose son John ran Provincetown-Boston Airlines and the Provincetown Municipal Airport.

With Maline Costa as her contractor, Van Arsdale expanded the motel in 1955 to include what The Advocate described as a “penthouse”: a second-story apartment for Van Arsdale’s use. In 1957, she purchased the eight-acre tract immediately to the west — now the site of the Harbor Hotel, 698 Commercial — as a buffer for the Breakwater, presumably to foreclose the possibility that another motel would be constructed by a competitor.

Fred E. and Patricia Sateriale bought the property in 1968, doing business as Beach Point Realty Trust, and have owned and run it ever since.





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