Remember the Essay Contest to Win a Maine Country Inn? This Couple Won

center lovell inn
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Why save for decades to come up with the cash for a down payment on a historic inn worth almost a million dollars when you could simply win one for $125 and an essay?

That’s what one couple just did. Prince and Rose Adams, both 45, won a historic Maine inn in an essay contest. The couple, originally from Brooklyn but currently living in the Virgin Islands, will soon close their restaurant in St. John to take over the 210-year-old Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant in Lovell, Maine.

When they received the phone call to say they were the inn’s new owners, Rose first thought the caller wanted to make a reservation at their restaurant, Sweet Plantain. Then they heard the true reason for the call — and they were thrilled. “We are excited and frightened,” Prince told the Bangor Daily News.

The secret to their winning essay? They basically sold their skills and proved their competence at running an inn. They touted their 12 years running a guesthouse and restaurant, their hospitality philosophy, the importance of their marriage, their qualifications and even their TripAdvisor awards.

And they’re not the only people to win an incredible property by putting words to paper. Essay contests giving away costly properties are all the rage these days, and owners are using such competitions to part with a goat farm, a horse farm, a movie theatre and more.

What’s It Like to Win a Million-Dollar Property for $125?

Janice Sage, the current owner of the Center Lovell Inn, has a pretty good idea of how the new owners must be feeling about now. She knows what it’s like to win a business for the cost of a fancy dinner. How? Sage herself won the very same inn in a similar essay contest 22 years ago, out of a field of 5,000 entrants who each paid $100. But after decades of working the 17-hour days innkeeping required, Sage was ready to pass ownership along to someone new.

Of course, the inn isn’t exactly free. In addition to spending time managing the business and maintaining the inn, the winners must pay taxes on the $905,000 property, as well as various land transfer and attorney’s fees.

Still, the Adams family is excited for the challenge. Their plans for the inn include using Rose’s extensive culinary background to revamp the menu with a combination of Maine classics and the spicy Caribbean cuisine Rose normally cooks. And their 10-year-old son, Jacob, is thrilled about the possibility of getting a dog (preferably a Great Dane) on the spacious property.

Why Hold an Essay Contest?

Sage wasn’t just in it for the joy of welcoming new innkeepers into the fold; she was hoping to cash in on her investment. The contest rules announced that her goal was to receive 7,500 entries, or a total of $937,500 in entry fees. She even put a clause in the official rules reserving the right to refund everyone’s money and cancel the contest if she did not receive enough entries.

While Sage isn’t disclosing how many entries she received or how much money the contest brought in, she does say she plans to use the funds for her retirement.

Your Turn: Did you enter the contest to win the inn? Why or why not?
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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