Harpswell Inn owners John Hensley and Kelsey Robertson stand in front of the historic business at 108 Lookout Point Road in Harpswell. The couple purchased the inn, built in 1761, from its previous owners on July 20. (J. Craig Anderson photo)

The new owners of the Harpswell Inn say they aim to preserve the centuries-old property’s historic character while adding modern touches such as contemporary decor and electric vehicle chargers.

First-time innkeepers Kelsey Robertson and John Hensley completed their purchase of the 262-year-old property, at 108 Lookout Point Road in Harpswell, on July 20 and are in the process of applying for a liquor license.

The couple recently moved into the seasonal inn with their 2-year-old son, Archer, and have been working on light renovations to the property. They said the goal is to make it feel more modern, but not too modern.

Historic pictures and artwork will stay, for example, but some of the gaudier wallpaper in guest rooms will be replaced. And the couple intends to add two “Level 2” EV charging stations by the end of the summer.

Robertson is a former community planner who most recently worked in South Portland and is originally from Westport Island in the Midcoast. Hensley, who grew up in Wyoming, continues to work as an economist in the renewable energy sector for an employer based in Washington, D.C.

They purchased the inn from Rick and Trish Malec, who bought the property in 2017. Prior to that, it was owned by Richard and Anne Moseley, who bought it in 2005.

Robertson said she and Hensley had thought about owning and operating a Midcoast inn ever since getting married six years ago. But those ambitions were delayed temporarily by the coronavirus pandemic and the birth of their son. Now, their dream is finally a reality.

“We wanted to be in the Midcoast — that’s where I grew up, it’s where my parents are,” she said. “Harpswell Inn was the first one we really saw. It was exactly the location we wanted. I’ve been coming to Harpswell my entire life, my parents have a lot of friends here, and so it just kind of felt right to me.”

Hensley said the couple was lucky to acquire the inn because when they first learned about it, the property was already under contract to another buyer. However, that deal fell through and the inn became available again.

“There aren’t that many properties like this,” Hensley said, noting the rare combination of beautiful scenery, relative isolation and 10-minute access to dining and entertainment options.

Harpswell Inn owners Kelsey Robertson and John Hensley sit on a couch inside the historic inn’s main gathering space. The couple said they had been looking to buy an inn in the Midcoast area and moved quickly when the business became available. (J. Craig Anderson photo)

Harpswell Inn overlooks Middle Bay and has served a variety of uses over the past quarter-millenium. Built in 1761, it was originally known as the Summer House, which it served as for the family of its original owners, Paul and Angier Curtis.

It was later renamed Lookout Point House and served primarily as the cook house for the Lookout Point Shipyard, according to Harpswell Inn’s website. The shipyard flourished around the Civil War, and for about 20 years, schooners and brigs ranging from 20 to 200 tons were built and launched there, it says.

“The foremost remaining symbol of the inn’s connection to the shipyard is the bell atop Harpswell Inn, which in the 1860s summoned the shipbuilders to their meals,” the website says.

The bed-and-breakfast-style inn has eight guest rooms in the main house and three additional suites in an adjacent carriage house. The inn serves an expanded continental breakfast featuring locally made pastries along with fresh fruit, toast, yogurt, juice, coffee and other breakfast fare. It also has a 24-hour coffee bar.

The inn is currently open from early May through the end of October. Robertson and Hensley said they are working toward extending the season and being able to accommodate larger events such as weddings, family reunions and corporate retreats.

“This year is (to) get our sea legs, get our feet under us, figure it out, but then I think, going forward, we’re looking to host some more groups and make this a real gathering place,” Robertson said.

The couple said they’ve been welcomed by the surrounding community — even some of the inn’s previous owners have offered help and advice. As first-time innkeepers with a young child to raise and no employees, they said the warm reception has been a real boon.

“Everyone who comes by has been interested in our story and the saga that it was to buy the place,” Hensley said. “Everybody’s just so friendly and interested in what we’re doing.”

Have a comment or news tip? Please contact J. Craig Anderson via email.