2020 Commercial 074


Octagon House.

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, Leonard 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.

¶ Adapted from Building Provincetown (2015).

Leonard Paoletti wrote on 2 March 2014: Shortly after the Octagon House was closed as a nursing home it was purchased by James “S. P.” Silva and his lover Nick. At the time, S. P. was a very well known accountant in Provincetown, and he spent a small fortune renovating the place, adding a full apartment in the basement and most notably the deck up on the roof. The house was filled with antiques and Oriental carpets. In the ’90s, S. P. (short for “Sweet Pants,” a childhood nickname), sold the house and moved to Hawaii where he eventually died of cancer. Silva is a common Portuguese name in Provincetown but he was not related to any of the local Silvas.

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