Ocoee resident Kathleen Crown hopes to lease or purchase the property to retrofit it into a B&B, speakeasy and wedding venue.
CORRECTION: The print version of this article erroneously stated the proposal was for the Withers-Maguire House. However, Crown's proposal is for the property located at 2 N. Bluford Avenue, also known as the Maguire House. This has since been corrected.
Downtown Ocoee soon may be home to a bed-and-breakfast inn and speakeasy.
The B&B and speakeasy was proposed by Ocoee resident Kathleen Crown, also a member of the city’s Human Relations Diversity Board, during the Aug. 7 City Commission meeting.
Assuming the structure can support it, the B&B and speakeasy would be housed in the historic Maguire House located at 2 N. Bluford Avenue, near Ocoee City Hall and the Ocoee Lakeshore Center.
Crown, who suggested naming the potential B&B The Royal Crown Inn, believes the inn and speakeasy would be a boon to the city and appreciated by both residents and tourists. She plans to market the B&B to bicyclists who traverse the West Orange Trail and people who enjoy fishing on Starke Lake.
“What I would like to do is propose we save this historical building because we only have two other historical buildings in the city of Ocoee: the Withers-Maguire House and (Women’s Club of Ocoee), which are both on the national register,” Crown said. “So I’d like to create a wedding reception venue, and I’d like to create a B&B. I’d like to add a speakeasy on the property (and) develop elegant gardens with both a water fountain and a fire feature.”
Crown said her plans are also to add an ice-cream window at the back of the future inn and a luncheonette, once the new Ocoee City Hall is built across the street.
Her goal is to create a place that both families and adults can enjoy. She plans to invite local musicians to play at the speakeasy and encourage local artists to display their artwork at the inn.
“I want to create a family-friendly place during the day so that we have a place to gather in the city of Ocoee, because we really don’t have that right now,” she said. “And then a really cool place to come at night that’s elegant, that’s not a biker bar, that’s not a loud, rowdy sports bar, but somewhere you can sit down and listen to some nice music and some jazz and just to talk to friends and hang out.”
According to floor plans Crown shared, the historic home would be renovated to add private bathrooms to the two first-floor bedrooms, a commercial kitchen and laundry room in the kitchen space, and the sunroom and living room would be converted into the speakeasy, luncheonette and main lounge. The second floor would be renovated to contain three guest rooms with private bathrooms, she added.
Ocoee commissioners and Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson liked the sound of the Crown’s vision for the property.
Johnson said the city is not able to sell the property right now, but it may be possible to lease the home for purchase.
Commissioner John Grogan recommended Crown try to focus on one or two of her proposals, and Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen suggested having Crown hire a structural engineer to inspect the building before moving forward.
Crown said an inspection was planned for Tuesday, Sept. 4, and some issues were found which will need to be addressed. Among other things, the structure will need a new roof, new A/C unit and window repairs, however, the plans are still doable, Crown said.