Philadelphia – When Washington D.C. native Monique Greenwood and her husband Glenn Pogue decided to acquire, renovate, refurbish and turn a large single home mansion in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section into an upscale bed and breakfast inn people looked at her like she had three eyes. The successful publisher, author, editor, entrepreneur and now reality tv star did have a third eye, an inner eye that saw the opportunities and possibilities others did not see.
In 1994 she and her husband purchased the house and converted it into what has become a thriving bed and breakfast business called Akwaaba Mansion. Akwaaba means welcome in the Twi language of the people of Ghana West Africa. As a couple they enjoyed the bed and breakfast experience and wanted to create and share this experience with others, especially people of African descent. Bolstered by their success in New York, in 2002 they purchased another house they named Akwaaba By The Sea in Cape May New Jersey the epicenter of bed and breakfasts on the East Coast. In 2003 they opened Akawaaba D.C. in her home town of Washington D.C. Then they purchased the F.W. Woolworth estate in Bethany Pennsylvania in the Pocono Mountains which is now the locale of a reality television program called Checked Inn on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. Recently they opened their fifth property located in Philadelphia’s University City section.
Looking back on their early days she says, “When we told people we were planning to open a bed and breakfast in Bedford-Stuyvesant they looked at us like we had three eyes. We did have three eyes because that third eye (pointing to her forehead) is the eye of vision, the ability to see the possibilities. It’s the same set of eyes that we had to use when we came here.”
Here is the former The Spruce Hill Manor that until recently was a bed and breakfast owned and operated by Janet Reitano. For Greenwood coming to Philadelphia was a natural, “I chose Philadelphia because it is the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. Every time I’ve come here I felt so welcomed. I also love old historical properties and there are a ton of them here and I can get here on a tank of gas from any of my other locations. I chose University City because of its proximity to everything, not just the colleges, but the hospitals, the movie theaters, the zoo, the art galleries, the Art Museum. 30th Street Station, it’s all here.”
When they acquired the property, they set about restoring it and renovating it to retain some of the property’s original decor but with enough alterations to match their Sound of Philadelphia theme which focuses on the city’s rich and diverse musical history. “This property was built in the late 1880’s we have kept all the original detail. This was already a bed and breakfast called Spruce Hill Manor. The former owner ran it for ten years and it looked very different than it looks today. I fell in love with everything that is original to this property, there is wood everywhere none of it has been painted. We feel really good about that. Every room has a fireplace and they are all originals. The tile surrounds the brick surrounds and marble are all original; amazing, amazing detail. We also like the fact the house sits on a double lot so we can do outdoor affairs. We are doing events that can accommodate up to a hundred guests. We just had our first one-hundred person event this past Sunday. Kindred the Family Soul hosted their twentieth wedding anniversary here we hosted that in the garden.”
Like all their other properties the Philadelphia Akwaaba radiates warmth, welcome and appeals to African-Americans looking for upscale venues to stay, have their weddings, parties, receptions, meetings, book signings and other events. The Philadelphia house has six suites each named for a Philadelphia musical icon. All the suits have a king size bed. The house can sleep up to twenty people and offers enough space to hold inside and outdoor events.
Opened in September the response has been phenomenal. Greenwood is extremely appreciative of how they have been received. “The most exciting thing that we have found outside of the incredibly warm reception that we have received not only from our neighbors but also from Visit Philly, the Chamber of Commerce, the television stations, newspapers and now the bloggers, so I thank all of you for what you have done.” Greenwood told a group of bloggers and media influencers she hosted.
The Philadelphia Akwaaba Inn is located at 3907 Baring Street in West Philadelphia. To book a reservation or to find out more about the Akwaaba properties go to http://www.akwaaba.com or call 866 466-3855.