Ownership of the historic Stone House in Freeport is being transferred from the University of Southern Maine to the nonprofit Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation.

Christopher Quint, executive director of USM’s Office of Public Affairs, confirmed the transfer in a recent interview.

Quint said no money will be involved in the transfer, but ownership and maintenance of the historic building, which was designed in 1917 by well-known Portland architect John Calvin Stevens, will become the sole responsibility of the foundation.

The ownership transfer was announced last week during an informal Town Council workshop at Wolfe’s Neck Farm, Quint said. The foundation owns and operates Wolfe’s Neck Farm.

“The formal transfer has not happened yet because the lawyers are still working out all of the legal details,” Quint explained. “But it is going to happen.”

The transfer puts to rest any concerns that the building might be sold, at least in the near future, to a private buyer. In June 2014, the University of Southern Maine administration announced it was going to sell the Stone House, which sits on a 4-acre lot with views of the Harraseeket River and Casco Bay.


The Stone House was used just 40 days a year by 250 people enrolled in the Stonecoast Writers’ Conference. Last year, USM officials told the Portland Press Herald that closing the Stone House would save the University of Maine System about $75,000 to $110,000 a year in maintenance and utility costs. USM said the building was also in need of $8.5 million in structural updates.

The idea of a sale was raised as USM announced plans to lay off employees and cut academic programs to close a $14 million budget gap.

The prospect of selling the Stone House on Wolfe’s Neck Road was criticized by some members of the public. In September the University of Maine System board of trustees voted to work with the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation on a solution that would preserve the structure.

“USM considered selling the property, under old leadership, but the property was never put on the market,” Quint said in an email. “We have moved forward and have come to a mutually beneficial agreement that adheres to the intent of the gift letter from the Smith family.”

The Stone House was part of a much larger gift to USM from the family of Eleanor Houston Smith. In 1985, the Smith family gave USM the Stone House and the 600-acre-plus Wolfe’s Neck Farm as two separate gifts. In 1997, the farm was transferred to its current operators, the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation.

Anyone who has seen the Stone House up close will recognize its distinctive architectural features. It was built in the Colonial Revival style, with distinctive stone walls and soaring two-story columns at its entrance.


Dave Herring, executive director of Wolfe’s Neck Farm, said the foundation is accepting ownership of Stone House with two goals in mind.

Herring said the foundation will take steps to ensure the house’s historic character be preserved and that future uses are compatible with the farm and the Wolfe’s Neck neighborhood. Whether the building will be opened for public uses, such as weddings and conferences, has not been determined.

“Currently, Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation does not have plans to renovate and operate the Stone House. Our plan is to do a thorough property condition assessment to really understand the state of the building, then will work to find a new owner who is capable of helping us achieve our two primary objectives,” Herring said in an email.

Quint said the Stonecoast Writers’ program was housed at Bowdoin College in Brunswick this year.


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