74 Commercial Street

74 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

74 Commercial Street, by David W. Dunlap (2010).

Octagonal houses had their eight minutes of fame in the 19th century. Robert Soper, the whaling master who built this Octagon House in 1850, believed its shape would deflect the power of storms. He was a founder of the Centenary Methodist Church and of the Seamen’s Savings Bank. Soper left town in 1865 after the whaling industry collapsed. From the early 1920s to the early ’40s, this was the Octagon Inn and restaurant; Mildred O’Neill, proprietor. Mellen and Isabel Hatch bought it in 1945 and renamed it Hatchway. Mellen wrote The Log of Provincetown and Truro, and Isabel ran the Hatchway as a “rest home.” The home was closed in 1973 for failure to meet safety requirements. James “Sweet Pants” Silva bought it in 1985, Len Paoletti told me, added the roof deck, and filled the place with antiques and Oriental carpets. Kathleen Mayo and Cheryl Stewart bought it in 2011 and undertook a substantial rehabilitation.

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.

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