A chance to own a piece of Maine history

MT. VERNON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A piece of Maine history is up for sale, and its owner is searching for the right buyers to restore this slice of Americana to its former glory.

Elizabeth Arden was a powerful visionary, who not only changed the way women used make-up and presented themselves- and in the process became the richest woman in the world - but she also was very interested in women's health. Arden transformed her summer home into the Maine Chance Spa, creating a first of it's kind luxury resort spa in the 'backwoods' of Maine in the mid-1930s.

Stefan Tufano's parents but the property forty-one years ago.

"My parents were looking for a summer place back in the 70's and this came up for sale," he explained.

Tufano spent all his summers here as a child.

"The lakes, the fishing, it was just wonderful here," he said.

He also became interested in the property's history.

"You research it and to find out it was the first spa in the history of the United States and all the famous people that stayed here, Judy Garland, the First Lady Maime Eisenhower and you know, it was quite a place," said Tufano. "In today's money, it was $4,000 a week to stay here. So, it was an exclusive women's club back then, very few people could afford to come here."

But now, for $765,000, you can own it.

"It should be preserved in some manner," stated Tufano, who admits the property needs some work. "I would hope somebody would buy it with the intention to keep the integrity of the buildings and the property and restore it. It might be far fetched to think they could restore it completely you know with all the flowers around it, but to restore it and make it nice so people could still drive by and appreciate it because it is quite an historic place."

Long ago the nearly 1200 acre property was cut up into more manageable parcels. Some became private homes, others were turned into apartments. He is searching for someone who either wants to keep the main house, Arden's eight bedroom, five bathroom home as a private residence, or an owner who wants to turn it into an inn or spa.

"It is hard to imagine how cutting edge this was at the time, but it was quite fashionable and it was really cutting edge," explained Dr. Lisa Walker, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine who has done extensive research on Arden and the Maine Chance Spa.

"I think that this is like the history of glamour," she stated. "The interior is so gracious. The interior views are incredible. You can really have a sense of what that era would have been like when you walk through the house."

Walker has conducted numerous interviews with people who lived and worked in the area when the spa was in operation.

"I think that people in the community are really nostalgic for the time that this was a grand house," she said. "It has a lot of meaning for the community."

She, like Tufano, hopes a buyer is found that appreciates its place in history.

"It is really a piece of history that is so much connected to Maine as sort of an idyllic place for retreat," said Walker.

The home also comes with a three stall barn, caretakers cottage, and former chauffeur's quarters on seventeen acres of mostly lawn covered land.

"That's what I do all summer, is I cut the grass. That's the reason I'm selling, I'm tired of cutting grass!" joked Tufano, though he says it the property has become too much for him to maintain.

"We've had a lot of interest obviously, because it is an historic piece of property," he said. "It is not just an important part of central Maine history, it is an important part of United States history and it was quite a place."


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