The winner of a 200-word essay contest to own the Center Lovell Inn & Restaurant was notified Saturday by the inn’s owner.

But Janice Sage said she is not going to reveal the name of the winner until the deal has been completed. She did not know when that would be, but contest rules say the transfer must occur within 30 days of the winner’s notification.

She said she informed the winner by phone Saturday.

“It was great. It sounded like me 22 years ago,” Sage said of the winning essay, which she did not release.

Sage won a similar contest in 1993 when then-owners Bil and Susie Mosca decided to sell the western Maine property, which includes a 220-year-old barn and an adjacent guest house.

Saturday’s winner was selected from entries on the essay subject, “Why I would like to own and operate a country inn.”


Sage had the goal of receiving 7,500 entries, charging $125 each to raise money for her retirement. She said Saturday she would not discuss whether she achieved her goal of raising $900,000. The estimated worth of the property is $905,000.

Sage said the winner of the essay contest must come visit the inn in Lovell, and discuss details with her before ownership of the inn and restaurant is transferred.

The 12-acre property has seven guest rooms and views of the White Mountains and Kezar Lake.

Sage said she’ll miss the inn, but not the 17-hour workdays, The Associated Press reported.

The Moscas came up with the essay contest idea after concluding that few people could afford the 20 percent to 40 percent down payment banks were requiring at the time.

Sage, then a Maryland restaurant manager, won the 210-year-old inn from the Moscas after penning her own 200-word an essay in an hour and paying a $100 entry fee.


The original contest made national headlines, was featured on “The Phil Donahue Show” and spawned copycat contests.

This time around, Sage narrowed the entries down to 20 and handed them to two outside judges. She posted the 20 finalists, identified only by a number and their geographic location, Friday on Facebook. One of the finalists lives in Bangor.

The winner must promise to operate the inn and restaurant for at least a year and keep it painted white with forest green or black shutters and roofing. The winner will also receive $20,000 in startup money, if the goal of 7,500 entries was reached, and all the inn’s furnishings and equipment.

A first and second runner-up were also picked Saturday, in case the transfer to the winner does not go forward.

Bil Mosca wrote a self-published book about his experience, “Passing Along Our Dream,” which describes how he and his wife turned the dilapidated inn with broken windows and a buckled floor into something special, the AP reported. He said he hopes the new owner finds the job to be as rewarding as he and his wife did.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: bquimby

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