LEWISTON, Maine — Bates College has bought the Ware Street Inn.
The 72-year-old Colonial home at 52 Ware St. was originally built by the Wellehan family. In 1999, Jan and Mike Barrett bought the home and turned it into a bed and breakfast.
“I fell in love with it when I was 16 years old. With my first car I went out looking for this cute guy in high school who lived in this neighborhood. I didn’t find him, but I found this house. And I fell in love with it instead of the kid,” Jan Barrett said. “Years later I was able to buy it, which was a dream come true for me.”
The Barretts converted the old, two-story house into a bed and breakfast with five bedrooms and five private bathrooms, an enclosed sun porch and gardens on more than an acre of land. They ran the inn for 13 years. In recent years Jan Barrett also operated a small catering business from the home.
But the couple divorced recently, and Jan Barrett, 65, said it’s time for her to step away from the business and slow down.
“I’m tired,” she said. “I need to refresh.”
She put the inn up for sale. Although a couple of potential buyers showed interest in the property, Bates ultimately made the purchase. The college closed on it Monday.
“The Barretts have run a fine business and been wonderful neighbors for many years. We were very glad to have this opportunity to acquire the property and were very glad we’re able to do so,” Bates spokesman Roland Adams said. “We wish the Barretts the very best in all their endeavors.”
The property is adjacent to the Bates campus, and it shares a street with other homes owned by Bates and rented to Bates employees. Adams said the college has not yet decided what it will do with the Ware Street Inn, but it does not plan to maintain the property as a bed and breakfast or use it for student housing.
Adams said he did not know when college officials will make a decision.
In the meantime, Barrett is staying at the home as a tenant while she looks for a new home in the Lewiston-Auburn area. She plans to spend time with her grandchildren, then in six months or so become a traveling innkeeper and tend to bed and breakfasts temporarily while their owners take a break.
Adams and Barrett declined to say how much the property sold for. The city has appraised it at just under $289,000.
The property’s tax bill last year was just over $7,200. Although Bates is a nonprofit college and does not pay property taxes overall, 52 Ware St. will become tax exempt only if Bates applies for an exemption and if the home’s use meets exemption requirements, such as classroom space. According to the city assessor’s office, the property likely would not be tax exempt if the home was rented to Bates employees like other properties in the area.
Barrett said she is happy Bates is the new owner.
“It’s probably the most beautiful property in the Twin Cities, and I have been very, very fortunate to be its mommy for a while,” she said. “I’m just very glad Bates is getting it. I think it was ultimately meant to be that they did.”
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