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You Can Now Win a Historic New England Inn with Your Snappy Writing

All it takes is a 200-word essay and a whole lot of entrepreneurial spirit.

A view from inside the Center Lovell Inn, courtesy of the inn.

If you were a Lit, Creative Writing, or Liberal Arts major I’m sure you’re pretty sick of people telling you how “useless” your degree is. So why not silence all those haters by using your pithy prose to win your very own historic New England inn? Janice Sage, current owner of the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant in Lovell, Maine, first won the deed through an essay writing competition in 1993. Now, at the age of 68, Sage would like to retire—and is paying the gift forward via a new contest. The deadline is May 7, and Sage anticipates receiving upwards of 7,500 entries. During her 22 years as the manager of Center Lovell Inn, Sage invested $500,000 in renovations, and often worked more than 17 hour days, but is now ready to take some much-needed time off: 'I've been in the business 38 years so it's time to retire.” Sage, who had also run another Inn prior to Center Lovell, told the Daily Mail this week, “I just want to pass it on to somebody else who is looking for an inn, who possibly can't own it on their own outright and I think this is a good way.” The inn is a breezy three hours north of Boston, and is popular with tourists year round. Sage currently employs 10 staffers to cook, clean, serve at the restaurant, take reservations, and handle guest check out. It has not been mentioned yet whether the new owner will also be inheriting these seasoned staffers.


To enter, you must create a short and pithy 200-word piece on “Why I would like to own and operate a country inn,” and pay the $125 fee to enter. Sage will then whittle down the entrees to 20, and let a two-person, non-partisan team select the winner by May 21. The inn will then be gifted over to the new owner within 30 days, along with $20,000 in seed money, with the agreement that they must keep the 200-year-old inn painted white with green and black trim, and run it for at least one year. Sage warns this won’t exactly be a retreat. “Unless you raise 14 kids, you’re not going to be used to this,” Sage told the Boston Globe. “Look, this is something you start when you’re young. It takes a lot of stamina.”

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