Coming to Winthrop? Stay a While at the Town’s First Bed and Breakfast

Friday, December 23, 2011
By Transcript Staff

Enjoying early morning coffee at Winthrop’s Harrington House – the town’s first B&B are (from L-R): Judie Vankooiman, Maggie Morris, Wendy Millar-page, and Todd Sacco all of Winthrop enjoy Saturday morning coffee.

At the Winthrop Yacht Club almost a decade ago, Maggie Morris, former owner of Moonstruck Cafe and Luna Boutique, was talking to her friend and business partner Cindy Levins about her search for a home.

“Why don’t you buy that house?” Levins said, pointing across the street to a pink, Victorian residence.

Six months later, she did. Morris, who now owns the house, converted the antique abode into a bed and breakfast which she named the Harrington House.

“I bought this house nine years ago and I always knew it would be a bed and breakfast,” she said.

The Harrington House has been resting at 2 Terrace Avenue in Winthrop since it was built in 1889. “Nanette Harrington lived here through the 70’s,” said Morris. “She had long gloves and used to have garden parties. She was very classy. That’s why we called it the Harrington House.”

Morris and her fiancee Joey Carroll put as much time into uncovering the history of the home, as they did money. “We bought the house in 2003 for $465,000 and had to put in over $100,000 in renovations,” Morris said. “It needed a lot of work. We gutted the kitchen and completely redid it, we created a real half bath in the back, and upstairs we completely renovated our master bathroom.”

Happy to be in a partnership with someone who loves to entertain, Morris believes part of the Harrington House’s charm comes from the warm atmosphere she and Carroll provide. “He’s a comedian,” Morris said about her fiancee. “He loves to greet and talk to people. Before, the house was too big for us, and now it feels full.”

Harrington House boasts six bedrooms, three of which are available to rent, and two and a half baths. All of the rooms are furnished with antique furniture that has been passed through Morris’s family. And as a personal touch, Morris put a journal in each room so travelers can document their stay, and leave comments.

“People feel like it’s really homey,” Morris said. “ I really try to make sure they have a good experience. My reviews are a lot about the food. My granola is all handmade…and I do fresh fruit and make fresh baked goods every morning. And every day I bake fresh cookies for afternoon tea.”

Hesitant to give up her love for owning the Moonstruck Cafe, Morris has incorporated a coffee shop feel by hosting morning coffee on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. for people who used to frequent Moonstruck.

“It gives that kind of feel of community and stopping in and getting the news of the day. Now it’s weekly but I feel that I can still extend that sense of camaraderie,” Morris said.

Morris and Levins had to close the cafe in October due to the slow economy. It originally opened four years ago, and they later combined it with the clothing store, Luna Boutique, but people aren’t spending money like they used to, according to Morris, who then spent three years attaining her license for a bed and breakfast.

“It was a big endeavor,” she said. “I was told bed and breakfast licenses didn’t exist. I worked with the town council, health inspector, and planning department, and wrote a bed and breakfast byline for the town. I got my license in mid-September and i had guests the next day. I was full all the way through Thanksgiving.”

Morris markets the $80-$90 a night bed and breakfast online, via Facebook and other social media outlets. With the draw being the close proximity to Boston, Morris believes that guests feel like they’re in a community when they stay in a bed and breakfast.

“The kind of traveler we get are people that are really open,” she said. “They want to get to know the people and the town, it’s a real communication. I tell people how to get here and I provide them with a lot of information. Most of our guests are coming here to visit Boston. They stay out all day and come back and go to local restaurants.”

Formerly on council for the Taste of Winthrop, Morris is familiar with Winthrop’s 35 eating establishments. “We have everything,” she beamed, pleased to be able to generate business for the local economy.

But she also wants things to pick up at the Harrington House. “My expectations are things I would really like to make sure happen, like being full during the high season, working with the community to market Winthrop as a destination spot, and have the ferry run year-round. People from all over the world are amazed by what we have. This community is so beautiful,” Morris said.

Guests have come to stay at the Harrington House from all over Europe, Australia, England, Slovania, Germany, and Canada.

“The coffee shop was dependent on neighbors, but this business attracts people from all over,” Morris said. “The big draw here is the water and the restaurants. Ryan Syr, the chef who owns Bistro at Home, currently makes the cookies and muffins. We would like him to cater dinners, or host cooking classes.”

Morris is eager to host more events such as a book club (which will start in January), and garden parties in the spring.

Excited to already have repeat customers, Morris hopes that people appreciate the cozy, family feel that the Harrington House is meant to provide.

“I’ve gotta check the scones!” Morris said as friends arrived for the Saturday morning coffee event. As they greeted each other warmly and sat around the dining room table, it looked like a picture fit for Morris’s slogan, “Come stay with us and be at home.”

  • Winthropbeach

    I thought the Ocean Spray Inn on Shore Drive was the town’s first bed and breakfast?

  • Guest

    Unfortunately Maggie’s sense of customer service was probably one of the reasons why people did not frequent her stores as much. My wife wanted to buy a gift for a friend’s child, and because she wanted to support local business, she went to Luna. But she had to wait for over 30 minutes while she chatted with her friend, doing smalltalk  and did not pay any attention to her. Finally she left and went somewhere else.
    So an important part of being successful is to pay respect to your customers. I hope that this attitude does not prevail in this endeavor, because I would like to recommend the Bed and Breakfast to my friends.

  • John Doe

    How about honoring your outstanding Luna’s gift cards before dropping 600 grand on your next venture??

  • Jvnk

    Good Morning,
     I am a native by birth from Winthrop, born & raised there.
     I married in 1982 and moved to N Falmouth then to Palatka Fl.
     Upon reading on line through several articles(Withrop Transcript) I came upon your aticle a B&B there
      When making a visit back (hopefully soon, long overdue 2009), my husband & I will DEFINITELY consider.
     Many of the properties are amazing homes of ganduer and beautiful and I think that taking one , making it into a B&B is a spectaular idea. Why wouldn’t travelers venture to the area, Exciting and rememberable of a stay. Hop, skip & a jump to the City-Boston. Now that you even have a “ferry” WOW!
     I just need to figure out where “Terrace Ave” is, how abstince makes the memory vanish or is it just a “Senior” moment, Ha Ha ! Oh, no I suddenly had a flashback.
     
    I THINK it is WONDERFUL about ALL the transformations the  Town has taken over all the yrs.        
    Too bad “personal” comments listed like to distract/persuade negativity input,THINK PSOSTIVE!
                                 “I ” would of  LOVED it ALL growing up there. 
          ALWAYS thought it was a great place, FANTASTIC beach landscape “except” for the SEEDWEED- boys loved it to wrap a girl ,  BIG rocks (Highlands area), the “jetties” we use to dive off, bad us , but it was fun. I sure remember the ICE cold water, the instant headache upon entering theH2O, I took swiming lessons in “sneakers” too.
     I remember “Brother”s GREAT yummy( Cinnimon Twsts) $.25 on Suday walking home from “early morning Mass@  St Johns’s. I even worked(help) @”1960’s”@ Twin Bakery w/ best friend -Teresa, folding/stackng boxes and our salary was “pastries” We thought it was GREAT !
    In H.S (Catholic) in Brighton where I attended, I remember poeple telling me back “then”, they used to go to Winthrop for a summer vacation. I thought they were crazy, WINTHROP,  see it attracted back then even.
     Oh , also SO glad to hear the turnout of the decision of the Transportation system. The people ALWAYS made use of. Hope , which I know must have replaced those “rickerty racket” “BUS”. We never could figure out if it was the buses or the “road”. Maybe both.
    Oh such GREAT/FUN MEMORIES of old-fashion growing up in WINTHROP.
     
    To the Owners of the Harrington B&B, BEST of LUCK , look forward to a future stay and will recommend  suggestion yours Harrington House “and” also  ALL others, Ocean Spray, Winthrop Arms, Extended Stay- Shirley St (apology) for forgetting others Ooops “another” Sr Moment, to ones of travel to consider also.
     
     Veronica (Askovitch) Keris
     PALATKA FL
     

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