29 Bradford Street Extension

Foxberry Inn | Formerly Bill White’s Motel (House)

The Whites’ house at 29 Bradford Street Extension was built in 1952, preceding the motel by 23 years. [2016, 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.

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. John S. Gagliardi purchased the property in 2010 and turned it into a B&B called 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.

[More about the motel at 29 Bradford Street Extension.]

Despite his anglophone surname, Bill White came from a Portuguese family. Both of his parents — Rose Almeida Jason (1873-1922) and Antone Almeida White (1871-1943) — had come from the Azores.1 Bill was born in Provincetown. He graduated from Provincetown High School in 1924. He married Francelena M. Silva (1909-2000) in 1927. Two years later, she gave birth to their son, Wilbur Adrian White. By 1930, Bill White was working as a letter carrier for the Post Office. But his vocation was carpentry and construction.

William A. White. [Posted by Lisa King / My Grandfathers Provincetown]

Bill White is at the far right, during his days as a letter carrier, at Perry’s Market, 93 Commercial Street. Bert Perry is at the left, standing next to Joseph G. Cook. [Posted by Lisa King / My Grandfathers Provincetown]

Left: Margaret Thompson as a senior at P.H.S. in 1959. [Long Pointer 1959 / School Collection / Provincetown History Preservation Project Page 5546] Right: Brian Alexander, a 1980 P.H.S. graduate, lived in the house in the 1990s and early 2000s. [Long Pointer 1980 /School Collection / Provincetown History Preservation Project Page 5591]

Marrying for the second time in 1950, White gained a step-daughter, Margaret Thompson. He ran for public office in the Town elections of 1952, handily defeating two opponents with 57 percent of the vote for a seat on what was then called the Board of Selectmen. He was also elected by an identical margin to the Public Welfare Department, of which he was chairman, and to the Assessors’ Department. As a selectman, White was one of three officials who signed the infamously anti-gay “Appeal to all Decent People in the Town of Provincetown” in August 1952. (Frank H. Barnett and Ralph S. Carpenter were the others.)

“This town is today faced with a situation which bids fair to undermine our morals, our business, in fact our very existence,” their open letter began. “We are at this moment overrun with a throng of men described by Archbishop [Richard] Cushing [of Boston] as ‘the lowest form of animal life.’ … We are not getting the support we should in our effort to rid our town of these degenerates … especially the nightclubs, which are the nests where the homosexuals congregate. … Exert the power of your influence to help stamp out this degrading and soul-destroying influence. Save your boys and girls from complete moral degradation. … Let us not permit our town to become a Sodom or Gomorrah.”

All the while he was trying to rid Provincetown of homosexuals, White was building this house “on a most pleasant site … during such time as he can give it,” the Advocate reported on 22 May 1952. “Right now he is laying the large cement block cellar, and above this will be a one-story Cape Cod cottage. The place he chose nestles between dunes on Bradford Street Extension, with another selectman’s estate, that of Ralph Carpenter, in the rear, and more dunes across the road in front. Soon we will be telling people, ‘We can remember when there was nothing along this road but Joe Alves’ [Galeforce] dairy, his house and the cows.'”

The house, doubling as the motel’s front office, was painted a honey color under the ownership of John S. Gagliardi. [2016, Dunlap]

Hidden inside an upstairs closet is an inscription on the chimney stack attesting to the year the house was built. [Courtesy of Daniel G. Spinello.]

Matthew E. Verge and Daniel G. Spinello repainted it midnight blue in 2021. [Donato Di Natale / Foxberry Inn / Tripadvisor]

White was 70 years old when he constructed the motel in his backyard. Bill “started building homes, and constructed the hotel himself,” Gagliardi told me. “And you can tell, because he did such a wonderful job.”3

One guest, Ronald Voorhees, recalled, “I remember the locals telling us that he was well respected, having employed many of them.” Rachel White reminisced on Facebook: “Uncle Bill by marriage to me, and my husband’s godfather. I could write a book on his antics. Good man, good builder, former selectman. … He was loved by all!”2

Bill White died in 1984. Margaret White assumed the management of the motel, and was shown as living here in the 1990 town directory. So was Brian Alexander, a 28-year-old carpenter, who graduated from P.H.S. in 1980. He continued living here at least through 2005, according to directories, after which no residents were shown at No. 29. The building functions now as an office for the inn.

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

Foxberry Inn | Formerly Bill White’s Motel (Hotel building)

In memoriam

• Margaret Elizabeth (Marshall) (Thompson) White (1913-1993)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 162732964.

• William Almeida White (1905-1984)

Find a Grave Memorial No. 162732907.

1 Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930.

2 Rachel White comment in My Grandfathers Provincetown.

3 John S. Gagliardi email to the author, 16 June 2014.

¶ Last updated on 14 April 2022.

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