Maine Innkeeper Who Won 210-Year-Old Inn With An Essay Is Offering Potential Owners The Same Chance

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own country inn, tucked away somewhere in Maine with all that entails, you don’t need a huge bank account or a surprise inheritance from a distant relative to make that dream come true: The owner of a 210-year-old inn in Maine is offering up the place for just $125 — to the person who submits a winning essay.

That’s how she came to own the inn 22 years ago, reports the Boston Globe. She saw a contest advertised on the Phil Donahue show, sent in $100 and her essay on why she should become the new owner and bam, three weeks later she was on her way to running the inn and all the headaches (and happy moments) that entails.

She says she’s ready to retire from 17-hour days working to cook and clean for guests year round, not to mention all the upkeep required in such an old house, and bringing in an estimated $900,000 from the $125-per-entry contest (she’s expecting about 7,500 entries) is a good way to do it.

Essays will be limited to about 200 words, and should be grammatically correct and show passion for the work. And it’s not like potential owners can read her winning essay from 22 years ago, as it’s the property of the previous owner and she can’t disclose its contents.

“Unless you raise 14 kids, you’re not going to be used to this,” she said, referring to the seven rooms that need servicing, seven days a week in the high season. “Look, this is something you start when you’re young. It takes a lot of stamina.”

She’s planning on reading all 7,500 or so essays by May 17, which is when she’ll pick the top 20 and pass those entries without names or addresses on to two anonymous people from the area to pick a final winner.

The judges are expected to pick a winner by May 21, with the transfer occurring within 30 days of that.

Beyond the entree fee, there are other requirement for the new owner: Whoever wins must agree to maintain the property as a country inn and restaurant for at least one year after taking possession; keep the building painted white; maintain the roofing in shutters in forest green, hunter green or black. And then there’s the day-to-day things that will come from maintaining the old building.

The winner will get $20,000 to start with, as well as the furnishings and equipment the inn has right now.

As for the owner, she’ll likely stay nearby (which could be a boon for anyone who finds themselves in over their head).

“I call her my grande-dame, my big old grande-dame,” the owner says of the inn. “I tell her when I’m painting that if she didn’t clean up so well, I wouldn’t do this.”

“I’ll miss it for all the good reasons,” she added. “I’ve loved it.”

Want a Maine inn? You’re just an essay contest away [The Boston Globe]