BRUNSWICK, Maine — The owner of a home surrounded by the Bowdoin College campus has signed an agreement to sell the property for $750,000, nearly five times its assessed value, to a Portland woman who plans to open an art and literature center there.

In compliance with a 20-year-old agreement, an attorney for 87-year-old Arline Pennell Lay, who owns the home, notified the college on July 15 that she had received a $750,000 offer from a Portland woman for her house at 28 College St., in which the family claims Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote part of the abolitionist novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Lay informed Bowdoin officials that under her interpretation of the terms of the agreement, the college could exercise an option to pay 25 percent more than that offer, or $937,500.

In response, Bowdoin last week filed suit against Lay, as well as her family’s real estate broker, David J. Jones of F.O. Bailey Real Estate, and Louise Jonaitis, the prospective buyer.

Citing an option of first refusal in that 1986 agreement, Bowdoin seeks an injunction to prevent Lay from selling or taking any further action to sell the property, which the college claims “is central to Bowdoin’s campus development plans,” according to documents filed Friday in Cumberland County Superior Court.

In a 25-page complaint, Portland attorney James T. Kilbreth, representing the college, argues that Bowdoin would not have purchased a home at 26 College St., adjacent to the home in question, from Lay and her husband for $140,000 instead of the assessed value of $90,000, without an agreement by the Lays to sell 28 College St. at a future date.

The agreement calls for each party to obtain an independent appraisal of the property, and for Bowdoin to pay 125 percent of the average of those two appraisals. The house is currently appraised at $154,300, which is 70 percent of the estimated tax value, according to town officials.

Bowdoin argues that it would suffer irreparable harm if the court does not grant the injunction.

“The property at issue is located directly in the middle of Bowdoin’s campus,” the filing argues. “Bowdoin negotiated to purchase this specific property and paid a premium for the right to do so. The property is unique, and no monetary damages can compensate Bowdoin for its loss of use of the property … furthermore, efforts to evade the appraisal process in order to hold up Bowdoin for a much higher sale price than legitimate appraisals would produce have caused significant damage to Bowdoin.”

In 2014, Lay listed the house for $3 million with a Beverly Hills real estate agent. No sale transpired.

In May of this year, she again listed it for sale for $1.6 million, a price her family contends is fair given their claims that Stowe rented an upstairs bedroom in the house — at the time located on Park Row — during the time she wrote the famous novel. Lay’s uncle, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former Bowdoin professor Robert Peter Tristram Coffin, also lived there, and the most recent listing claims Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Chris Wallace and William Cohen have stayed in the house.

College officials contest the Lay family’s claims that the house has significant historical value.

“Unfortunately, Lay chose instead to market the property through Jones and is attempting to sell it to Jonaitis without honoring her promise,” the filing reads. “She has refused to follow the appraisal process set out in the option, and has asserted that unless Bowdoin pays 125 percent of the $750,000 Jonaitis has offered, it will have forfeited its rights.”

In an email to the Bangor Daily News, Jonaitis said she planned “a museum-quality art and literature center” on the property, with one portion focused on industrial art, another an artist gallery, and space for her to finish a novel.

“I know from having lived in Brunswick years ago when I worked for Independence Association that Brunswick is full to the brim with creative people: artists, writers, musicians, poets, crafters and thinkers,” she wrote. “I’m going to invite them all to enjoy the property.”

Portland attorney Sean Joyce, who represents the Lay family, said Monday that he will argue the right of first refusal is invalid not only because sections of the agreement are “inconsistent” but because Lay and her husband were not represented by an attorney when the agreement was negotiated.

Joyce said Monday that the family will take legal action against the college based on “outrageous conduct” by Bowdoin officials during discussions about the property and allegations that past actions by the college had driven down the potential value of their property.

Lay’s son, James Lay, said Tuesday he planned a counter-claim against the college alleging that Bowdoin has negotiated similar “lowball” advance agreements with elderly homeowners near the campus for 50 years in order to “artificially repress” market values.

“We’re not going to be forced to sell the house to you just because you tricked my mother into a contract,” James Lay said recently. “If [Bowdoin] wants to buy the house, they should pay for the history.”

In an email Wednesday, Bowdoin spokesman Scott Hood said the college had exercised its option on the property, adding, “Once the appraisal process has been validly completed as contemplated in the original agreement, we will purchase the property at the price established by the process.”