The Maine Stay Inn was built as a private residence circa 1860 by merchant sea captain Melville Walker on land provided to him by his father, William H. Walker.
Captain Walker transferred the title to his wife, Abbie, following their marriage. Abbie often traveled with her husband at sea, bringing along their small children. The property then passed to brother-in-law, Hiram Fairfield on October 4, 1876, who in turn left it to his wife, Adelaide, (Melville’s sister) and their son, Harry.
In 1891, the property passed from the founding family for the first time when Adelaide sold it to the Heuvelman family. The Heuvelmans held the property until 1899, at which time they sold it to George Little, an executive with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.
In September of 1901, according to the Kennebunkport Historical Society’s record, Mr. Little began construction “on his new house on Maine Street.” This reference is considered to mean major renovations to the 1860 house, since historians believe the dominant architectural character is more comparable to the 1860s as opposed to the 1900s.
This belief is further supported by various remnants, artifacts, and newspapers discovered between the attic eaves when the floors were lifted in 1983 to insulate. The Society’s records show that electric lights were installed in 1905 at the Little’s on Maine Street, then known as “The Maples.” Title to the house and property then passed to Senator Wickes of New York in 1924.
Becoming “The Maine Stay”
The next owners, the Eldridge family, gave the inn its current name “The Maine Stay” and opened it as a guest house. Grace Eldridge welcomed travelers along with her husband, J. Seward Eldridge, who also sold insurance.
The first cottage was added to the property in 1954. The inn remained under the Eldridge ownership until 1970 when it was sold to the Taylor/Milligan family. They sold The Maine Stay to Max and Jane Andrews in 1976. Jacques and Carol Gagnon purchased the inn in 1983 and turned it into a bed and breakfast.
In April of 1989, title passed to Carol and Lindsay Copeland who sold it to George and Janice Yankowski in 2002. On April 30, 2008 Janice and George sold the inn to Judi and Walter Hauer, the current innkeepers.
The design of the main house is considered to be square block Italianate, contoured in a low-hip roof design, with additions and renovations tastefully added over the years. In the early 1900s, Queen Anne revival architecture was introduced to the inn with construction of the “now famous” suspended spiral partially flying staircase, starburst crystal glass windows, ornately carved mantels and moldings, and additions of bay windows and the wrap-around porch.
Not uncommon to the home of a sea captain is the cupola, which provides distant views to the harbor and sea beyond. The cupola was later outfitted for making salt-water taffy and is now known as the “candy cupola.”
The Maine Stay was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.