803 Commercial Street

The immensity of 803 Commercial Street — among the larger houses in Beach Point, at 5,500 square feet — is conveyed somewhat by glimpses from the road through the trees. To really appreciate its scale, however, you need to see it from the beach side, where you can take in its full 100-foot length. The lords of the manor were the McCabes, owners and proprietors of the Tides Motor Inn next door, at 837 Commercial. Joseph B. McCabe (±1915-2003) grew up in New Zealand and moved to the States with his family when he was a teenager, settling in New Canaan, Conn. More history»

† 837 Commercial Street

Preston Camps

A cottage colony that existed at least as early as the 1930s. For a period, it was run by Mary Alexander Campbell and her niece, Dorothy “Dot” (Alexander) Paulman (±1917-2000). The property was purchased in 1955 by Joseph B. McCabe and Cathryn (O’Neil) McCabe, who replaced it six years later with the Tides Motor Inn. [Updated 2012-08-30]

† 837 Commercial Street

The Tides

Built in 1961 by Joseph B. McCabe and Cathryn (O’Neil) McCabe on the site of the Prescott Cottages, which they had owned and operated since 1955, the Tides is sometimes described as the first beachfront motel on Beach Point. In its earlier days, when it was known simply as the Tides, the motel was affiliated with the Quality Courts United chain, the corporate predecessor to the Choice Hotels giant of today. It was then called the Tides Motor Inn. Finally, as an affiliate of Best Western, it was known as the Best Western Tides Beachfront. Until the early 2000s, the Tides was the eastern bookend of the company’s Provincetown presence, with the Best Western Chateau in the West End, at 105 Bradford Street Extension. More pictures and history»

Harbour Drive (837 Commercial Street)

Bay Harbour

Urbanistically, there’s actually a lot that’s right about Bay Harbour, a 10-lot subdivision begun in 2007 on the site of the Tides motel, 837 Commercial. To begin with, it’s closer in form to the local context than the Tides, whose two long slabs effectively blocked off more than 500 feet of waterfront for anyone who didn’t have a room there. Bay Harbour — in plan, at least — recalls the cottage colonies that brought so many people to Beach Point and that still account for much of its housing stock. The detached houses of Bay Harbour create multiple view corridors, to everyone’s benefit. There is an appeal to its density, too, recalling the sensibility of the town. No house looks quite like any other. And there are some smart Shingle style architectural flourishes here and there. The master plan is by Michael Winstanley Architects and Planners, the designers of 781 Commercial. More pictures and history»

838 Commercial Street

Mayflower Cottage | Studio 838

The westernmost house on the steep ridge of Mayflower Heights, No. 838 would warrant a Mayflower Avenue address were it not for a little neck of its property line on the Commercial Street roadbed, not unlike the New Hampshire seacoast. There, an old garage with a stylized American flag greets travelers. The main house and a smaller out building are way up there. The Mayflower was owned until 1937 by Ivan A. T. and Adele T. Centervall. They sold it to Margareta Brandt. She held on to it for almost 60 years, until 1996, when the artist Mariellen Serena bought it. More pictures and history»

857 Commercial Street

Ainsworth Cottages

“Everyone deserves a vacation — you don’t gouge people,” Prof. Joshua Arthur “J.A.” Ainsworth liked to say. That was how he and his family have run the nine Ainsworth Cottages at Beach Point since 1957. They are modest almost to the point of being primitive, but in this way they’re a far truer expression of old Cape Cod than the well-appointed hotels in town. And the only thing between the Ainsworths’ guests and the sea is the beach. That is why they come back year after year. More pictures and history»

863 Commercial Street

Five generations of the Hanscomb and Knott families have called this cottage their summer home. More than a century old, it is one of a cluster of Victorian-era gingerbread houses in a little settlement that was once known as Bangsville. (Another Bangsville existed closer to the center of town.) Jennie C. Hanscomb, the wife of George Sumner Hanscomb (d 1933), acquired this property in 1898 from Perez and Julia Bangs. Other members of the family associated with the house have included J. Rex Hanscomb and his wife, Helen S. Hanscomb; Paul C. Hanscomb (1905-1972) and his wife, Ruth Hanson (Jacobson) Hanscomb (d 1998); and her daughter, Eleanor Jacobson Knott and her husband, Richard C. Knott. Ms. Knott said in 2008 that her grandchildren were spending summers here, too. [Updated 2012-08-31] More pictures»

868 Commercial Street

Seabreeze Cottage

Like many residents of Provincetown, 868 Commercial is a wash-ashore, having arrived at Beach Point more than a century ago by water from farther up the Cape. It belonged to the Bangs family, who gave their name to this small enclave, Bangsville. It passed from the Waterhouse family into the ownership of the McCarthy and Mudge families, who sold it in 1941 to Ruby (Lincoln) Ham. The Ham family owned it until 1965, when the house was sold to Joan Pisani (d 2000), and her husband, Arnold J. Pisani (±1926-2008). Serving with the 82nd Airborne Division, Pisani was among the Allied troops who parachuted into France on D-Day, 6 June 1944. His family still owns No. 868.

876 Commercial Street

Bay View Cottage

Bay View is to Mayflower Heights as Grand View (676 Commercial) is to the East End: the dramatically situated “cottage” with a commanding bluffside presence and a deep porch to shelter those lucky enough to enjoy this shingled aerie. Bay View was constructed in 1875 and, at the turn of the 20th century, was owned by Anne L. Wood. It is one of several charming gingerbread cottages composing the old Bangsville enclave. [See the photograph with 863 Commercial.] Marion Dion Alves acquired the property in 1941 and held on to it for 20 years before selling it Charles Lieberman (1905-1987) of New York. Lieberman, in turn, transferred the property in 1985 to Dr. Arthur I. Geltzer and his wife Ellen Adele (Barth) Geltzer. More pictures and history»

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. More pictures and history»

892 Commercial Street

Beach Point Village Condominium

“Miss Pearl Sawyer and her brothers, Carl and Warren Sawyer, of Medford, are at their Beach Point Village for the summer.” From the 1940s through the 1960s, notices like this could be found in The Advocate every spring. The Sawyers were as dependable as the tides. And every fall, just as surely, the three siblings were reported as closing up their cottage colony at 892 Commercial and returning to Medford for the winter. The property was subsequently owned by Frank M. Tortora, who seems to have sponsored its 1983 condo conversion. More pictures and history»

898 Commercial Street (12 Commodore Avenue)

Mayflower Cottages

This cottage colony, which straddles both sides of Commodore Avenue, is one of the few left in town still open as a transient accommodation. The Commodore Avenue parcel has been owned since 1968 by Klara E. Mueller, or Muller (b 1931), who is also the proprietor of the Mayflower Apartments at 6 Bangs Street. The property had been owned since 1954 by Wallace McPhail. In 1989, Mueller acquired the Commercial Street parcel. More pictures»