Ghost sightings? Check.

Illustrious (although apparently false) place in state history? Check.

Across the street from L.L. Bean’s flagship store? Check.

The building that houses Jameson Tavern in Freeport can check off a lot of unique assets as it heads to market priced at $1.3 million.

Besides its own history, the building is “located in a block filled with other classic Maine brands,” said Kelly Edwards, the executive director of Visit Freeport, which until recently was the town’s merchants association. “We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this lovely building.”

The nearly 8,000-square-foot building is on Main Street, just across a side street from L.L. Bean, and could be available for lease instead of sale. The sales brochure from The Boulos Co., which is brokering the building, said it was constructed in the late 18th century.


Its prime tenant is the Jameson Tavern, whose roots go back to 1801 when the tavern was a stop on a stagecoach line that served Maine, which at the time, was still part of Massachusetts. The tavern’s lease agreement extends to 2024, and co-owner Tom Hincks said he intends to stay, despite the occasional appearance of a ghostly apparition or two.


He said he’s often in the restaurant alone and has heard footsteps and banging, has seen the back door open and close by itself, and other incidents.

Once, some unknown force rattled all the utensils hanging from an overhead rack.

“I wasn’t a believer” before he opened the restaurant, he said, “but wait until it happens to you.”

Jessica Estes, the broker handling the sale, said the building is likely to attract someone looking to operate a business in its front section, currently occupied by Brahms Mount, while continuing to have the restaurant operate – and pay rent – in the rest of the building. Brahms Mount, which sells Maine-made blankets, throws and towels, has a lease running through 2019 but has indicated that it might be willing to leave sooner. Estes said the restaurant would likely stay.


Hincks said foot traffic to local retailers may be down because of a shift to online sales, but he still draws plenty of diners. He said he and his business partner are even thinking about opening one or two more Jameson Taverns, but they don’t yet have specific plans or locations.

The site was once known as “the birthplace of Maine,” after an oft-repeated, but likely false tale about documents related to the separation of Maine from Massachusetts being signed there in 1820. A plaque on the building, donated by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1914, commemorates the event, although historians say there’s no evidence that ever happened and some indications that it didn’t.


In a 2013 article for The Dash, a newsletter of the Freeport Historical Society, historian Alan Hall said the story may be linked to the town’s centennial celebration in 1889, when the owners of the tavern put up a handwritten sign in a window asserting that “commissioners” met there to sign the documents formally separating Maine from Massachusetts and achieving statehood.

Hall said any meeting at the tavern prior to Maine’s statehood, in 1820, likely involved those opposed to the idea of Maine cutting its ties to Massachusetts. Freeporters strongly opposed the separation, Hall said, because town leaders feared it would hurt the shipping business, which was a mainstay of the coastal economy. But the notion that the town – and tavern – served as the birthplace of Maine “was so appealing that it refused to die,” Hall said.

After historians laid out their evidence to town leaders five years ago, the town removed references to an unofficial nickname as “the birthplace of Maine” and removed the slogan from town letterheads and most vehicles, Freeport Town Manager Peter Joseph said.


“It was used on all our letterheads and on vehicles below the town seal,” Joseph said, although the town never officially adopted it.

He said a few firetrucks still carry the phrase, and it might be on “a few coffee cups and T-shirts in town hall,” he said.

Hincks said that, as far has he’s concerned, the Daughters of the American Revolution plaque will stay up until he’s shown convincing evidence that the claim is false.

“You better show me some documentation that it isn’t true and I’ll remove the plaque,” he said. “Otherwise it will sit right there.”


Property records suggest the building was built in 1797, said Holly Hurd, the curator and collections manager for the Freeport Historical Society, not the 1779 date cited by the tavern’s operators and the brokers.


She said that it was originally used as a family home of Dr. John Angier Hyde. He then sold it to Samuel Jameson, who operated it as a tavern starting around 1801, mostly serving the passengers of stagecoaches that stopped in Freeport while traveling around the state. The tavern claims that visitors have included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier and Franklin Pierce, the 14th U.S. president.

The tavern reverted to a family home in 1844 after railroads took away business from the stagecoaches, cutting off the tavern from its regular clientele. But it continued to operate as a tavern from time to time, and postcards sold in Freeport in the early 1900s featured the tavern, then referred to as Codman’s Tavern after Capt. Richard Codman, who bought it in 1828. One postcard refers to the building as “where Maine was made a state,” and Hurd said the insistence that statehood papers were signed there have persisted.

New owners in 1981 restored the building and resurrected the tavern, although that work didn’t end reports of ghost sightings in the building. A tall man in a top hat who stands in a spot between the bar and restaurant has been reported. And there have supposedly been sightings of child ghosts, the tavern’s website says, although all of the apparitions are of the friendly variety.

The tavern closed for a few months in early 2013, but it has been open under Hincks’ management since then.

The building is owned by Pamela Hurley Moser and David Moser, who purchased it in September 2014. Hurley Moser, a well-known businesswoman who had grown her travel agency into a $60 million operation when she sold it 2014, said the sale will allow the couple to invest in other ventures, including a vacation villa in the U.S. Virgin Islands that will be marketed primarily to Mainers.

“It’s a phenomenal building and a phenomenal market,” Hurley Moser said of the Freeport building. “We had a great cash flow from that building.”


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