Wedding Cake House owners abandon inn plans: Historic Kennebunk home put on the market – Seacoastonline.com

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KENNEBUNK, Maine — After attempting to transform the Wedding Cake House into an inn and events venue, the owners of the historic home have put it on the market.

Pack Maynard & Associates, of Kennebunkport, is listing the property at 104 Summer Street at $2.65 million.

Hunt Edwards, who owns the home with his wife, Katie, said the property officially went on the market on Friday, March 22.

“It’s a family decision that we made,” Edwards said.

Hunt Edwards is seen here at the Wedding Cake House on Summer Street in Kennebunk, Maine, in October 2023. Edwards had hoped to turn the historic home into an inn and events venue but instead has put the property on the market.

Hunt and Katie Edwards spent much of 2023 seeing their proposal to transform the place into an inn and venue through the town’s planning process. The project received pushback from neighbors as well as the Select Board. In January, the Select Board held off moving the project forward to voters.

With that decision, the Edwards couple missed their last opportunity to put a proposed contract zone on the ballot during the town election held during the state primary. The couple needed the contract zone, which only voters could approve, to pursue their plans with the inn and events space.

The couple’s next opportunity to have their proposed contract zone appear on a ballot would have been during the upcoming annual town meeting in June.

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Neighbors fought plans to turn Wedding Cake House into inn

The project faced vocal opposition, primarily from a newly formed group called The Friends of the Wedding Cake House. The group hired an attorney, who attended public meetings and pressed the argument that an inn and venue at the site would generate too much noise, traffic, and safety concerns. They also said it would set a precedent for other private properties on Summer Street to turn commercial and would drastically alter the character of the neighborhood.

On Monday, Gayle Asmussen Spofford, a member of the Friends, said she was glad the Wedding Cake House will not become an inn and venue and is now on the market.

The Wedding Cake House is on the market for $2.65 million.

Spofford said she and other opponents to the inn idea had experienced “pushback” when they publicly expressed that if someone cannot afford to maintain the Wedding Cake House, or any property that one owns, then the owner should sell it. Spofford said she was “impressed” that Hunt Edwards has decided to sell the home to someone who can take care of it.

Spofford also said she saw pictures of the interior of the house on Zillow, the website on which properties for sale are advertised.

“It looks like they’ve done a lot of work,” Spofford said of the Edwardses. “It’s a nice building to be in. I’m happy for whoever’s going to buy it.”

Spofford said grants and other funding options are available for anyone who is seeking to maintain their home and is eligible to apply for them.

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Wedding Cake House owner frustrated plans never came to fruition

Edwards became visibly frustrated during Planning Board meetings, often referring to the time and money he already had invested into the property, lamenting his mounting legal fees, and at one point saying he could very well abandon his plans.

“I can walk out of here and sell the house and be done,” Edwards told the Planning Board in October. “It’ll be someone else’s problem. And you might not want the other person who ends up with this house.”

The eight-bedroom, seven-bathroom home sits on 2.23 acres and has more than 300 feet of frontage along the Kennebunk River.

On Monday, Edwards declined to comment on the town planning process that he had experienced.

“I’m not going to get into it,” he said.

During appearances before the Planning Board, Edwards said he had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring the Wedding Cake House and its property. He said he and his wife were seeking to establish an inn and venue to create a revenue stream to help them finish their renovations – specifically, the structure’s distinct trim and columns.

Edwards is not the first owner of a major historic property in Kennebunk to express frustration with the town’s planning process. In the spring of 2023, Kari and Randy Gates dropped their plans to rebuild the demolished Barnard Tavern and open an inn there when the timeline of the town’s procedures began to conflict with their timetables for securing financing and contractors.

Wedding Cake House on the market for $2.65M

The eight-bedroom, seven-bathroom home sits on 2.23 acres and has more than 300 feet of frontage along the Kennebunk River, according to the online listing.

Built in 1825, the Wedding Cake House is among the most photographed properties in the state of Maine. The home is formally known as the George W. Bourne House and gets its nickname from its wedding cake-like appearance.

According to local legend, Bourne, a sea captain and shipbuilder, had the house built to “atone for having not taken his bride, Jane, on a proper honeymoon.”

The home has been restored on several occasions. James Hunt Barker – Hunt Edwards’ uncle – bought the house in 1998. Hunt Edwards began renovating it in 2019.

While the Wedding Cake House still stands, its future is not yet known. During her interview, Spofford described what she and others would consider a favorable outcome at the beloved property.

“As long as it remains a residence in a residential zone, everyone will be happy,” she said.

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