If not exactly all the rage, octagonal houses were nonetheless popular in the mid-19th century for a variety of reasons. Robert Soper, the whaling master who built Provincetown’s Octagon House in 1850, believed that its shape would help deflect the power of storms. Soper was a founding trustee of the Centenary Methodist Church not far away and a founding incorporator of the nearby Seamen’s Savings Bank. He left town in 1865 after the whaling industry collapsed.
From the early 1920s to the early 1940s, 74 Commercial Street was the Octagon Inn and restaurant. Mildred O’Neill was at one time the proprietor. Mellen and Isabel Hatch bought it in 1945 and renamed it Hatchway. Mellen was the author of The Log of Provincetown and Truro, and Isabel ran the Hatchway as a “rest home.” She was ordered to stop in 1973 and the home had to close for failure to meet safety requirements.