Mango Tree Inn Gets Noticed in Citizen

   On June 14th Barbara Bowers wrote an article about the Lovely Bed and Breakfast Type Inn
Return to home page

The 'inn-home' office - 06/14/2009

Key West Bed and Breakfast Inn Front house PictureJames Slater, Brett Jones, D. Vincent Williams and more closed out this past April's Songwriters' Festival in Peggy and Johnny Newberry's living room at 603 Southard St.

Naturally, such a musically inclined bunch gathered 'round the white piano that dominates the room: "Johnny gave me the piano years ago, but I never make it sound quite the same way the songwriters do," Peggy Newberry said. "Some VH1 producers were here that night, too, and they shot footage for the TV show."

As one of the sponsors of the Songwriters' Festival, the Newberrys are used to rubbing musical elbows. The TV publicity, though, is an added perk that in a tough economy helps get the word out there for their Key West business, Mango Tree Inn, where a goodly number of songwriters have stayed over the years -- and where the Newberrys live year-round.

In Key West, a lot of people work from their homes, of course, but some in-home offices are more intense than others. For instance, this particular "inn-home" office is a 24/7 job.
"We try to close the office around five, but our only time off is when we leave the island," said Johnny Newberry, who bought the property 10 years ago.

The Newberrys were sitting at a cozy round table on the long front porch chatting with Scotty Emerick when I arrived, so the job has some positive downtime, too.Key West Inn Keepers Johnny, Peggy and Kkaley Newberry

"We love being innkeepers, and when we found the property, we fell in love with the old house, even though it needed some work," Peggy Newberry said. "We redid the bathrooms, the pool, added brick pathways and painted everything."

Back in 1999, the Newberrys said the 5,000-square-foot house at the corner of Southard and Simonton streets already had transient licenses, but it was being used as a boarding house. Although it took some time and money to get the property into inn shape, they didn't change the structural configuration, which featured a two-bedroom, two-story apartment at the front, and four bedrooms with two baths in the back.

Key West Fl B&B Inn Kitchen pictureThe back rooms are still rented to guests in the form of two suites -- one on the first floor, one on the second -- and both have private entrances, one from Simonton Street and one from the wrap-around porch that faces Southard Street. This second-floor suite also overlooks the pool and garden on one side, and features a balcony atop the octagonal room on the Simonton Street side.

Access to the Newberrys apartment is from the seven-bay front porch, where the central entrance has huge, wooden double doors and heavy brass knockers original to the house built in 1858.Mango Tree Inn Front Door Picture Next to this primary entrance is another door to the living room that also doubles as the office. While a big desk fits comfortably in a corner across from the piano, this work zone is clearly lived in: Kaley Mae, the blond Labrador retriever, sprawls on the rug, but it's easy to imagine her on the big, overstuffed sofa. "Sometimes I think she's the main attraction," Peggy Newberry said. "She gets a lot of presents from our guests."

The front two-story apartment was divided from the back of the house before the Newberrys bought it. In the living room, a large section of the wooden wall behind the piano reveals the sealed imprint of what used to be an archway into the second parlor. At the turn of the 20th century, this octagonally designed parlor was another formal entry to the house from Simonton Street. It too, features the same heavy front door and brass knockers at the Newberry's residence, but these days it's the first-floor suite's private entrance, complete with a private garden.

Privacy is guaranteed to all visitors -- the Newberry's maintain their privacy indoors via the 2,000 square feet in their two-story apartment with two bedrooms and three baths -- but Mango Tree Inn boasts a lot of casual, communal space in the big pool and gazebo in the side garden. Bed and breakfast Inn heated pool pictureThis area affords weddings and small gatherings, while on the front porch, tables and chairs draw guests closer to the innkeepers. Here, the three doors to the Newberry's residence are almost always open, and a variety of birds chirp and chat there in cages.

Peggy Newberry said the Moluccan cockatoo rescued in Orlando, a yellow-naped Amazon parrot retrieved from the Big Pine Flea Market and two finches all come in at night to enjoy their privacy, too.Bed and Breakfast Mango Tree Inn bird house picture

Even upstairs, the long front balcony boasts cages, where the exotic birds can commune with wild birds in trees surrounding the inn. Ancient Poinciana and mahoganies shade the carefully tended gardens, although a more youthful mango tree soaks in the sun at the front gate entrance.

"In my mind, mangos denote the tropics so it became the namesake for our inn," Peggy said. "We planted that tree when we opened, and now it's fruiting for the first time."

Sounds like fodder for a new song to be written at next year's festival.

Barbara Bowers is a Key West writer. To suggest a home to be featured in the Keys Homes section, send an e-mail to Homes listed for sale may not be considered.

Key West B&B Mango Tree Inn Picture by Sandford Birdsey  
Songwriter James Slater gave the Newberrys the Panamanian Mola hanging in the Mango Tree Inn entry hall.
Painting by Sandford Birdsey on display in the Mango Tree Inn living room



Key West Bed and Breakfast Inn Picture of Doves who make this Inn their home