TWENTIES THEME: Hard work went into renovating this house into a “Roaring ‘20s atmosphere” Tulsa bed and breakfast on 21st Street.
ALICIA SHRUM for GTR Newspapers
You had to feel sorry for the woebegone house at 1521 E. 21st St. It looked unloved. Built in 1920, it sat across the street from Woodward Park, one of Tulsa’s truly lovely parks, but the asking price was a paltry $139,000. The realtor handling the sale gently suggested that the building could use some major renovation or might be used to its best advantage by tearing it down. It was not, to put it gently, a hot property.
But Janet Mobbs took one look at it and her heart went out to the house. It seemed to fit perfectly with her plans. That building, she decided, would be the answer to her dreams, which was to own a Tulsa bed and breakfast.
Happily her husband, Mark, agreed. Mark is the accounting manager and controller at Borden Dairy and Janet is an x-ray technician but both had been looking for another outlet for their talents. Two years ago, they bought the house and started the massive project of turning it into a viable hostelry. In time, the Inn at Woodward Park was ready for business.
“It was quite a project,” says Mark. “We had to completely strip everything down and start all over.”
“One of the problems was how to fit bathrooms into bedrooms that hadn’t had them before. When the house was built there was a bathroom downstairs and two upstairs. It wasn’t much trouble to have one of those bathrooms go into one of the bedrooms, but the space for the other bathroom we had to steal from the closets. With the help of an architect we managed to do it however, and now each of the bedrooms has its own bathing facilities.”
Contractors moved the walls and put in the bathrooms, but when it came to fine-tuning the details, Janet and Mark had to apply their own elbow grease.
“We decided on a Roaring ‘20s atmosphere,” says Mark, “and Janet did all the planning. She bought the furniture and put it all together.”
“But it was Mark who did all the painting and heavy work,” says Janet. “We couldn’t have afforded to have it done professionally.”
As much as the Mobbs had to struggle with the amenities of the house, they had to also work their way through the Tulsa bureaucracy. The house has a two-car garage but with three different guest rooms the city regulations demanded a parking space for each. In time, a way was found to accommodate five cars and the problem was solved.
As the Mobbs envisioned it, the house would be divided up into two distinct areas. Go through the front door and you are faced with an imposing wooden staircase. Climb the stairs and you have three bedrooms and a sitting room that appears to be an enclosed sleeping porch. From the windows of that room you get a magnificent view of Woodward Park.
As they envision things happening, the downstairs sitting room with a large dining room table will be reserved for the Mobbs private use except for breakfast in the morning. The guests have their bedrooms, baths, and can share the upstairs sitting room.
One area where they feel they really have an advantage is in their location: they are two blocks from Utica Square with its many shops and restaurants, within yards of Woodward Park and just six blocks from Cherry Street, with its own eclectic combination of restaurants and shops.
They have even given their bedrooms names: The Moroccan, the Hollywood and the Jazz. Rates run from $95 to $125 a night. Pets are a negotiable item (one suspects the third member of the Mobbs family, Miss Kitty, would prefer not to have large dogs) but children under the age of 12 are discouraged.
Plans are nice, so far as they go, but there comes a time you have to put them into action. That moment came early this month when a couple celebrating their anniversary became the first customers of the new innkeepers.
“They seemed to like it,” says Janet, proudly. “I fixed them a breakfast that had yogurt with blueberries and almonds, bacon and tomato quiche and cinnamon muffins. They had breakfast in the upstairs sitting room and said they enjoyed it.”
And how was it having strangers in the house?
“One of the reasons I’m doing this is because my kids have left. It’s comforting to have people in the house.