The History of Wings Hill Inn
As best we can tell, the main house (now the southern half of the inn) was built sometime right around 1800. The northern half of the inn was originally a barn on the property, but was probably originally sited a bit further from the house itself. It appears to have been moved at some point, and then connected to the house by the kitchen.
The home was owned from the 1940's through the 1970's by a gentleman named Edmund Hill. A World War II pilot, Edmund "Wings" Hill (as was his fly name) is said to have been among the first to enter in the raid on Hitler's bunker. As a result, Major General Hill (his rank at his retirement from the Air Force), owned many Third Reich and military artifacts, housed here until his death in the 1973 and now displayed at the Smithsonian Museum.
General Hill was a well-known figure in the area, and was, as many of the older residents have told us, quite a character. In addition to a "secret room" storing the World War II memorabilia, the house had a system of security cameras, and still houses a beautiful, antique, handpainted black iron safe (unfortunately empty!) built discretely into a stairwell. According to one gentleman who identified himself as a former military official who had aided in the artifacts transfer to the Smithsonian, there was even an underground bunker on the grounds!
The General owned quite a bit of property in the area, including a lot atop a rise just to the west of Long Pond. This particular spot afforded a spectacular panorama of the village and surrounding lakes, as well as a bumper crop each year of tiny, sweet wild Maine blueberries. General Hill donated this property for public use, and it is now the well-known scenic overlook known as "Blueberry Hill".
General Hill made a number of improvements to the property that can still be enjoyed today. For example, it was he who finished the interior of the barn, adding the fieldstone fireplace, shiplap paneling, and oak floors. This space, which the General renovated for his second wife, Millie (also known as Midge), who loved to entertain company, is currently the Great Room of the inn. (Millie, often remembered by locals as "quite the proper lady, in white gloves", kept a grand piano tucked in the small windowed nook in what is now the front dining room.) Around the same time period (in the 1950's), General Hill also built the outdoor barbeque, on the front lawn, and the stone patio at the entrance. In an agreement with the town, the General granted as a right of way the section of land known today as "Dry Point Drive", which allows access to the camps, cottages and homes behind the inn on Great Pond. In return, the town ceded a section of land, now part of the front yard, which had been part of "old" Route 27 -- originally much closer to the house itself. And, according to legend, the row of cedar trees at the north edge of the property was planted by General Hill, as well -- in response to a property dispute with a neighbor.
The General lived here until his death in the 1970's. Since that time, the house changed hands three times residentially, and was purchased in 1988 and converted to an inn. Additional bedrooms, private baths, and owners' quarters were added, and "Wings Hill Bed & Breakfast" -- named after the property's most famous owner -- opened for business in 1989. The proprietor enlisted local decorators and craft hobbyists on the project, and a good deal of the hand-stenciling done at this time can still be seen in the guestrooms and common areas.
We (current owners Christopher and Tracey Anderson) first visited Wings Hill in October 2000, and fell in love with the inn before even entering -- the lake, the lawn, the porch, and of course the gorgeous fall scenery did us "inn". It felt like home when we walked in the door, and some of the magnificent pieces that we found, like the 7" inch thick illustrated Bible from the late 1800's and the antique wooden cigar mold, added such wonderful charm and character. In addition, the location seemed perfect -- just at the end of this picturesque village, and set right between the two lakes. So close to the water, in fact, that at night you can hear the loons call, and the rush of the dam. And the proximity to Augusta and Waterville and to local colleges; the magnificent new golf course; the many children's summer camps; and the fabulous hiking, boating, fishing, and winter sports just outside the front door made it seem like a sure winner.
Much redecorating, renovating and even some construction had to be done between our purchase date, in January of 2001, and our opening that May. The antique beds were lovely, but were the old-fashioned 3/4 size -- smaller even than a double bed -- and had to be replaced; as did the well-worn inventory of linens, china, et cetera. All the guestrooms and baths were slated for extensive updating and redecorating; our goal was to make the inn a place that welcomed guests, and made them feel utterly relaxed and comfortable. The most ambitious project was adding a hallway to the exterior wall of the building -- up to that point, guests had had to drag themselves, and their luggage, up several steps, and into and through the kitchen, to get from one side of the house to the other. In fact, the only areas of the inn that weren't scheduled for an overhaul were the dining areas and the parlor. As fate would have it, however, a burst pipe on the second floor damaged ceilings, walls and floors in the dining room and parlor, and their total renovation was added to the punch list as well.
We opened the doors on May 25, 2001, to a wonderful group of proud Colby College parents visiting for graduation, and immediately announced to each and every one of them that their stay would be 10% off. Every guest did have a room, and a bath, and a bed, but after 3 sleepless days, that evening we were still purchasing and installing such necessities as window shades and towels, and one bathroom had a line clean down the middle -- half old wallpaper, and half new. As it turned out, our guests were so overwhelmed -- and mostly absent -- as a result of the many graduation festivities that Colby hosts, that they might not have even noticed.
And so began our adventure -- one that continues even today. The inn is now open year-round for both lodging and dining, and there's always a new project to undertake. From heating and water system upgrades, to the extensive front entrance renovation, to the addition of balconies to each second floor guestroom in 2005, there’s never much downtime. Each new endeavor brings surprises (until you tear open a wall, who would have guessed that a former owner made use of garden hose in place of the traditional tubing for a shower drain?), but also a sense of accomplishment. Since opening, two guestrooms have been converted to alternate use; one as additional dining space, and the other as a nursery … for our very own “special addition”. In the time that we've owned the inn, we've been fortunate enough to meet and host many wonderful guests; to have garnered some very gratifying praise from customers and print media alike; and to have done so while making a well-loved, historic home our very own.