Anyone who was familiar with the old mansion outside of Bethany in former years and who came to the formal opening last weekend was likely astonished by the makeover accomplished by its new owner, Monique Greenwood and her husband Glenn Pogue.
While the building will be owned in conjunction with her husband, Greenwood, an experienced innkeeper, will be the sole operator of the business.
The mansion sparkled, glittered and radiated its former charm made new, as crowds of the Honesdale “glitterati” appeared on its high steps and broad porch, seeking entrance at its front door. Anyone who was anybody in Honesdale was there.
All afternoon, googley-eyed visitors strolled through the classically restored rooms, sipping champagne and eating canapés off of trays offered by young assistants, listening to the soft jazz band on the porch, elbowing their way through the crowds, down newly painted hallways and through sumptuous bedrooms.
The old mansion, for many years a ghost of its former self and empty for 15 years, was transformed. Who could have managed this miracle?
The lady in question is the owner of a business called Akwaaba (which means “welcome”), who has a record of successful inns and B&Bs in Brooklyn, near the Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, and in Cape May, NJ and New Orleans, LA.
Long-time residents of Honesdale who were present recalled the mansion’s former days when musicals and plays were produced, weddings celebrated and New Year’s Eve parties held.
“Those days will return,” Greenwood said. “We aim to open the facility to local people and groups that wish to plan events, like weddings or group meetings.”
A tea room, called Leaves, which will open in August, will offer tea, salads, sandwiches, quiche, assorted pastries and such. Greenwood is searching for a suitable chef. All the facilities are open to the public.
“I did not want to just renovate,” she said. “I want to restore. There are few mansions like it in the country and I want to preserve such grandeur.”
Greenwood envisions a place of unprecedented elegance where vacationers can come to disconnect from the chaos of daily life and reconnect with themselves. Eighteen such travelers from the Washington, DC area were the first customers to come. Room rates range from $150 to $225.
The floors are original to the building, and the window panes have a wavy pattern in them that reveals their age. A recreation building at the rear of the mansion holds an Olympic pool and exercise rooms, which are yet to be completed. The facility is advertised as a wellness resort and spa.
The 14-bedroom facility, which cost $1.5 million to renovate, accommodates 34 people, sits on 22 acres of former farmland that was owned originally by John Strongman, a partner of F.W. Woolworth and the president and CEO of the Woodworth Company. His daughter, Hortense, married Byron Miller and became a well-known local philanthropist, who donated to the Bethany and the Wayne public libraries and other groups.
For more information, visit www.akwaba.com , or call toll free at 866/466-3855, or in New York City at 718/455-5958