Foxberry Inn | Formerly Bill White’s Motel (Hotel building)
The Foxberry Inn when it was Bill White’s Motel. [2009, Dunlap]
William Almeida White (1905-1984) and Margaret Elizabeth (Marshall) (Thompson) White (1913-1993) had enjoyed nearly a quarter-century of relative solitude in the house they’d built shortly after their marriage. It overlooked the moors — and the Moors — in what was still the semi-rural far West End. Then in 1975, someone came along and built a 12-room motel only a few yards from the back of their home. No objections issued from the Whites, however. They were the builders.
The Foxberry Inn as it looks today. [Donato Di Natale / Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor]
Bill and Margaret White at their motel. [Courtesy of Holly Bixby]
Bill White’s Motel survived the motel era with its bright roadside red-white-and-blue sign blazing, thanks to Margaret’s daughter, Margaret May “Maggie” (Thompson) Tinkham, and her husband, John Tinkham. Maggie went as far in 2005 as to seek permission to convert the motel into a condo, but withdrew the application and continued to run the unassuming but well-regarded accommodation. John S. Gagliardi purchased the property in 2010, freshened and fancied it up, and renamed it the Foxberry Inn. Matthew E. Verge and Daniel G. Spinello bought it in 2019 and — even against the headwinds of the coronavirus pandemic — continued to rejuvenate it. At this writing, in 2022, the Foxberry Inn has a 5.0 “Excellent” rating on Tripadvisor.
[More about the Whites and their house, 29 Bradford Street Extension.]
White was 70 years old when he constructed the motel in his backyard. It is a straightforward type: a two-story building, 96 feet long and 16 feet deep, with a 6-foot wooden front deck at the second level; six rooms top, six rooms bottom. Bill “started building homes, and constructed the hotel himself,” Gagliardi told me. “And you can tell, because he did such a wonderful job.”1
Maggie Tinkham paid a call on Spinello and Verge in 2019, and brought her photo album with her from Truro. “Most of the photos were of the surrounding landscape,” Spinello told me in 2022.2 “What was very evident is that none of the other buildings were around, with the exception of the Moors. It was just rolling dunes and scrubby trees and lots of snow-covered landscape in every direction. From her telling, the motel back then was a very laid-back, come as you are, no frills type of place, with very affordable rates and clean rooms, but no ‘extras.'”
“They were wonderful hosts,” Linda Dillon said. “We stayed there many times beginning in 1975. Loved them. I can still see in my mind’s eye Mrs. White hanging the clean sheets in the sun.”3
Ronald Voorhees recalled gratefully: “When I mentioned to Mr. White that we were going bike riding, he offered us his personal bikes instead of renting. I remember the locals telling us that he was well respected, having employed many of them.”
Paul Galligan said he stayed there a lot in his 20s. “Got down there around midnight, after leaving work, and Mrs. White would leave the key under the door mat, so I didn’t have to wake them up. Real nice people.”4
Bill White died in 1984. Margaret White assumed the management of the motel. After Margaret’s death, Maggie and John took over. To judge from two contemporary guidebooks, they succeeded despite — or perhaps because of — the modesty of the establishment.
Narrative continues after photo gallery
This exuberant sign — stars in place of dotted “i”s — was a landmark on the way into town. [2009, Dunlap]
In the rooms, wood panels reached the ceiling. [Bill White’s Motel]
A 1974 photo of the motel whose human subject is temporarily unidentified. Readers are asked for their help. A very close look at the bottom left corner will reveal sheets hanging out to dry on clotheslines. The hooks for those lines are still in place. [Courtesy of Daniel G. Spinello]
The classic motel tableau. [2009, Dunlap]
Behind the building are clothesline hooks that haven’t been used for a long time. [Courtesy of Daniel G. Spinello]
Left: The sign in off-season hibernation. [2008, Dunlap] Right: The new sign installed by John S. Gagliardi. [2010, Dunlap]
“This small, 12-unit, family-run motel provides arguably the best value in town,” Kim Grant wrote in the 2003 An Explorer’s Guide: Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket. “Owners Maggie and John Tinkham welcome a mixed crowd of families and couples. Rooms are simple but well-maintained, and the Portuguese hospitality is warm.” At the time, the rate for two guests was $88 a night in season, $70 in shoulder season. (The motel closed from November through April.) “Well maintained by a proud family,” Andrew Bender wrote in the 2005 edition of Lonely Planet: Cape Cod, Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard. “Rooms are pretty standard-issue but have nice Cape touches like quilts and braided rugs.”
That same year, 2005, Maggie Tinkham applied to the Zoning Board of Appeals through the architect Neil Kimball for three special permits and a variance to turn the 12-room motel into four residential dwellings with a total of eight bedrooms among them. The project would have increased the height of the building. In October, Kimball asked the Z.B.A. for permission to withdraw the application without prejudice. The board allowed it. Then, in 2010, after 35 years of family involvement, Tinkham sold the motel for $945,000 to John Gagliardi.
Narrative continues after photo gallery
Under Gagliardi, the motel and house were painted a honey color. [2010, Dunlap]
A refurbished room. [Foxberry Inn]
A refurbished room. [Foxberry Inn]
Despite the enormous amount of construction in the far West End, the Foxberry Inn is protected by its adjacency to conservation land. [2010, Dunlap]
Gagliardi turned the motel into a B&B. [Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor]
Gagliardi had owned and managed the Copper Fox Inn at 448 Commercial Street from 1997 to 2005. The Copper Fox name honored his parents’ sundry shop in Albany, and Gagliardi brought the vulpine theme with him to Bradford Street Extension. Rechristened, refreshed, and turned from a no-frills motel into a bed-and-breakfast, the Foxberry Inn was under his management until 2019, when he sold the property for $1.89 million to Matt Verge and Dan Spinello.
Spinello, a licensed physical therapist with some experience in carpentry, grew up in New York City. Verge, who comes from Oriental, N.C., is a licensed boat captain who was a manager of an automobile service and repair dealership. “Matt and I met in 2016 while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, and began dating long distance, traveling between New York and North Carolina to see each other,” Spinello said. Once Spinello moved to North Carolina, the couple bought and rehabilitated the historical Meares-Bridgers-Kerchner House and Kitchen Dependency at 416 South Front Street in Wilmington, on the banks of the Cape Fear River.
“Matt and I had traveled to Provincetown on vacation separately for over 20 years,” Spinello said, “and we continued that tradition together, and one year we noticed that this unassuming little inn was for sale. We inquired, but didn’t make a move. It was still on the market the next year on our annual Ptown pilgrimage, and we made our offer. We began this undertaking mostly because we wanted to live in Provincetown, and also wanted a change in lifestyle and occupation. John Gagliardi was immensely helpful in mentoring us during that first year, even coming in to cover for us during an emergency, and treating us to dinner at Fanizzi’s, his partner’s restaurant, on our first night in Provincetown. I don’t know if we could have kept this going that first year without him.”
Nothing could have prepared them — or any other innkeeper — for the 2020 season, when the coronavirus all but shut down vacation travel worldwide. The new owners tried to make the most of the time. “In 2019 we applied for permits to build two much-needed employee workforce apartments in what had been Bill White’s carpentry shop areas under the hotel and house,” Spinello said, “and I spent most of the pandemic lockdown building those apartments, which now house several of our staff.”
Dan Spinello, center, and Matt Verge, right, appear on the Foxberry website’s landing page. The motel’s founder once favored ridding Provincetown of homosexuals. His successors, on the other hand, appeal to an L.G.B.T.Q. clientele.
A thank-you to loyal patrons on the Foxberry Instagram account. Clockwise, from the top center: Spinello, Verge, Cody Finley, and Okhui Caton.
Verge and Spinello made the greatest change to the motel in 2021, when they enclosed bays at either end of the open-air front porch to create four new two-bedroom suites: the Cape Codder (Room 1), Foxtail (Room 6), Atlantic (Room 7), and Maritime (Room 12). “The room enlargements were our idea,” Spinello said, “in order to offer some higher-end, more spacious and modern accommodations — things that can be hard to find in Provincetown guest houses or hotels, all without really increasing the footprint of the building.”
The suites flank the smaller Race Point (Room 2), Highlander (Room 3), Thistlemore (Room 4), Nickerson’s Retreat (Room 5), Barnstable (Room 8), Orleans (Room 9), Writer’s Retreat (Room 10), and Nauset Light (Room 11). “The rooms that we did not enlarge, we have modernized and refurnished, but they also still have some of that old Cape Cod charm,” Spinello said. “Several still have that original wood paneling, although it has been painted a fresh white (really not so different from the ‘shiplap’ that every show on HGTV is pushing for renovations currently).”
Besides the dramatic touch of painting the building facades midnight blue, Verge and Spinello also expanded the lawn and patio that had been asphalt parking spaces during the Bill White days. The partners designed the various renovations, with architectural drawings by Alan Cabral. Cazo Construction was the contractor on the room-expansion.
“We are never quite satisfied and are constantly planning improvements to the hotel,” Spinello said. They’re evidently doing something right. Of the 256 reviews submitted to Tripadvisor as of mid-April 2022, 245 — or 96 percent — rated the Foxberry as “Excellent,” or 96 percent. The inn scored the maximum 5 stars in cleanliness, service, and value; 4½ stars in location.
The inn is still perceived as a bit remote, but the new owners have countered with the slogan: “The closest hotel to the beach.”
Spinello and Verge continued the transformation begun by Gagliardi, increasing the size of the patio and lawn that replaced part of the parking lot. [Donato Di Natale / Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor]
The Cape Codder suite was one of four two-bedroom units Verge and Spinello created by enclosing both ends of the porch. [Donato Di Natale / Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor]
The Atlantic suite was created on the second floor. [Donato Di Natale / Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor]
One of three double rooms on the first floor. [Donato Di Natale / Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor]
Left: The asphalt parking apron directly in front of the building was reclaimed as a lawn and patio. [Donato Di Natale / Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor] Right: In the space of a decade, the décor went from plain to mellow to vibrant. [Donato Di Natale / Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor]
A powerful storm in 2021 took out a tall tree behind the Foxberry. It had to be removed by crane. Matt Verge can — just barely — be seen in the lower right corner, watching the operation. [2021, Dunlap]
Ronald Voorhees wrote on 11 July 2019: In the late ’70s my wife, daughter, and I stayed at the motel. When I mentioned to Mr. White that we were going bike riding, he offered us his personal bikes instead of renting. I remember the locals telling us that he was well respected, having employed many of them.
29 Bradford Street Extension on the Town Map, showing property lines.
Also at this address
1 John S. Gagliardi email to the author, 16 June 2014.
2 Daniel G. Spinello email to the author, 15 April 2022.
3 Linda Dillon comment on Facebook / My Grandfathers Provincetown.
4 Paul Galligan comment on Facebook / My Grandfathers Provincetown.
¶ Last updated on 17 April 2022