Owners selling historic Blue Hill Inn hope buyer will continue their legacy

When Isaac Robbins was eight, he remembers going to a friend’s birthday party at an idiosyncratic, sprawling old house in Blue Hill that had arches and turrets like a castle.

So when the building, known as the Barncastle, came up for sale in 2007, he and his wife, Lori, jumped at the chance to buy it. Since then, they have transformed the Barncastle into a go-to destination for food and music on the Blue Hill Peninsula.

But now, after 16 summer seasons, they are looking for someone else to take over. The Barncastle Hotel and Restaurant, as it was dubbed under Robbins, went on sale earlier this month. Built in 1884 by Boston architect and Blue Hill native George Clough, the five-bedroom, 9,000-square-foot hotel is listed at $1.6 million.

This is not a typical hostel. The hallmark of The Barncastle is the combination of the aforementioned castle features with old New England architecture. Estate agent Dana Moos said she has never had another property like this.

“A lot of buyers want that ‘wow factor,'” she said. “You don’t really have to try with a place like this.”

It has not always been so.

The original building was just a small cape built in 1834. The owner, Effie Kline, later married John D. Rockefeller’s attorney and, not wanting to destroy his birthplace, built the Barncastle around from him.

An aerial view of the Barncastle at Blue Hill shows the inn’s characteristic arch and turrets. Credit: Courtesy of Barncastle Hotel and Restaurant

The original building is now completely darkened except for a small portion of the shingle roof in the attic. The Barncastle now boasts quirky architectural designs including a split staircase in the lobby and an interior balcony for the enjoyment of guests.

The hotel even has movie references. According to American Ellsworth, a cocktail scene in the 1989 film Pet Sematary was shot there.

“Although unconventional in many respects, ‘Barncastle’ nonetheless emerges as a striking and impressive summer cottage,” according to the inn’s 1980 National Register of Historic Places form.

Robbins said he and his wife had a background in restaurants and decided to take over the Barncastle more than a decade ago as it had sat unused for several years.

“We just couldn’t stand the building sitting there,” he said. “We knew the building had a lot of character and charm. People know it and love it. »

During their tenure at the Barncastle, the business evolved. It all started with a few rooms and a 30-seat restaurant. By 2020, the restaurant had expanded to around 125 seats. It was reduced when the pandemic hit and the restaurant shifted to take-out only.

Now that tourism has returned, the Barncastle operates its five bedrooms and small restaurant and pub, and has recently started hosting concerts in a converted barn on the property.

With their daughter recently graduating from high school, the Robbins family is now on the hunt for the right person with a passion to carry on the building’s legacy. He thinks they probably could have sold in the pandemic bargain as a residential building, but it didn’t seem fair.

“We really feel like we were the guardians of the building,” he said. “If anyone decides to buy this, we’d like it to continue to be a place where people can come and enjoy it.”

About Patrick K. Moon

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