Monday, March 16, 2015

Write your way into ownership of this historic Maine Inn & Restaurant, and possibly $20,000

In 1993, Janice Sage won the Central Lovell Inn and Restaurant in an essay contest. After running the bed and breakfast for twenty years, Ms. Sage, now 68, is ready to give it to the next owner: the person who writes the best 200 word essay on “Why I Would Like To Own and Operate a Country Inn.”

According to the Inn’s website, the property sits on 12 acres, fifteen minutes outside Portland, Maine. In the main building, there is a parlor and dining rooms on the first floor. On the second floor, there is a den
and four guest rooms, two with private baths and two with a shared bath. Next door in Harmon House there are five “cozy” guestrooms, three with private baths, two with a shared bath.

The rules, which can be found at, require that each entry be accompanied by a money order or certified check in the amount of $125.00 U.S. and two self-addressed stamped envelopes. Entries must be postmarked on or before May 7, 2015 and must arrive at the Center Lovell Post Office by May 17, 2015. The name/contact information of the writer should not appear on the essay itself.

Ms. Sage will select the “top 20” essays which will then be read by two judges unrelated to her (but whose names “shall not be released”). On or before May 21, 2015, these judges will select a winner, a first runner-up and a second runner-up. Winner gets warranty deeds to the Inn and abutting property. IF there have been 7500 entries, the winner will also receive a check for $20,000.

Small print: Winner will be solely responsible for any and all taxes, real estate transfer taxes, lawyer’s fees or fees of any kind “imposed upon or arising out of a successful participation in this essay contest.” Winner must also agree to accept properties “as is” and to operate the business as a country inn and restaurant for at least one year (185 operating days). If the winner refuses or fails to meet these requirements, the first runner-up will be declared the winner.

Because the essay contest depends on skill rather than luck, Ms. Sage told The Portland Press, it is legal in Maine. She added that she has been given the OK by the Maine State Police to proceed with it.

Caveat: The contest rules say that “The properties have been evaluated with a listing value of $905,000 US, however, no representation is made by the sponsors that this value or any value is in fact a Fair Market Value.” I note, however, that the Inn has been listed for sale on both and for $659,000. On the latter site, the gross revenue is said to be $175,000.

[Please pardon my lawyerly instincts which, even though retired, rise up once in a while but … I am not endorsing this contest, urging you to enter, or suggesting that you accept First Prize without consulting your accountant, tax professional and lawyer. I’m just pointing out an interesting contest that’s getting a lot of attention in the press and online. And the Inn does look beautiful in the pictures, doesn’t it?] 

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