“Where a man feels at home, outside of where he’s born, is where he’s meant to go.” -Ernest Hemingway
Nestled a stones throw away from the Castillo de San Marcos sits Hemingway House Bed and Breakfast. The intimate b & b was opened in 2013 by Jerry and Rodney. They wanted to create an intimate bnb representative of their favorite author, Ernest Hemingway. “We chose Hemingway House because it was our favorite authors name and we thought it would evoke a lot of stories,” said Jerry.
One of the many stories that have come to life is told through the eyes of Roger Shadow. As a young man in the late 1950s’, Shadow lived in Cuba and became friends with Ernest Hemingway. Over time, Roger compiled mountains of notes and stories all handwritten about the late author. When he met Jerry and found out the theme and passion behind Hemingway House, Roger asked Jerry to publish his book for him. Roger’s book was type-written on paper, double spaced, each line numbered, which proved to be a difficult task to pull together. The book took about 3 months, and countless hours to get into a publishable state. Appropriately titled, “Weekend At Hemingway’s” the book offers dozens of images and drawings collected over the years.
One of the many defining intimate features of the bed and breakfast is the framed map of Havana, Cuba thatHemingway once owned. Roger gave the map to Jerry and told him the story of how it was received. Roger was getting ready to leave after spending time with the author and Hemingway gave Roger a bunch of flyers and coupons telling him where to go eat and places to visit. Not being from Cuba, Roger tells Hemingway that he has no idea where those places are. So Hemingway reaches into his station-wagon and pulls out a map and starts pointing to spots on it. That map is a piece of history preserved for future generations to see and enjoy; a theme that carries throughout the modern bed and breakfast.
Hemingway House Bed and Breakfast can be described as intimate, fresh, and coastal casual. Rodney enjoyed designing & creating the right mix of modern without loosing important elements of the past. Guests who stay at their inn can expect one of the best breakfasts in St. Augustine. Jerry and Rodney are often described as friendly and hospitable. Hemingway would have felt at home if he had visited the modern Hemingway House Bed and Breakfast.
Hemingway House Bed and Breakfast is known for having the best breakfast in St. Augustine. Items on the menu include seasonal pancakes (Pumpkin, Spiced Apple, and Blueberry), Eggs Benedict casserole, and several other delectable breakfast items. Guests who stay here often say it is one of the most hospitable inns in St. Augustine.
Jerry and Rod, as their guests affectionately call them, met in Atlanta over 30 years ago while they were in school. Due to multiple layoffs as a result of the economy, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Jerry says they looked into franchises, as well as other things, but knew that they could excel in hospitality and old houses, which equals bed & breakfast.
Their first endeavor into the innkeeping world was with Inn On Charlotte, which they bought in 2010. Looking back on opening the inn, Jerry says, “it was like drinking out of a firehose.” In the first year, as they were working on Inn on Charlotte, Jerry would sit outside. As tourists walked by and commented on how beautiful it was, he would offer them a personal tour of the home. That snowballed into a faithful following of loyal clients, many of whom come back year after year.
Spending time with guests during happy hour at the inn is one of Jerry’s favorite things to do on a daily basis. He enjoys watching the guests interact with one another as well as hearing their stories. When he travels, he likes to get to know his fellow inn-goers and hear about their lives.
Jerry and Rodney are active members of the Saint Augustine Historic Inns Association. One of the many benefits is the support from fellow innkeepers. Jerry says as an innkeeper you can feel alone, or as if you are the only one with a specific problem. He actively gives advice to new innkeepers as they learn the ropes of the industry. Instead of being competitive, he encourages others to create the best bed and breakfasts they can for those visiting St. Augustine.
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Article and some images by: Danielle Brooks Photography