AUBURN — The Munroe Inn, a Victorian bed and breakfast that made headlines in 2007 when its owner pleaded guilty to secretly videotaping a guest, has new owners.
A pair of retired police officers.
The subject of a foreclosure, the 1899 Queen Anne Victorian had been sitting empty for a few years. David and Melanie Davis bought it recently from a man who'd purchased it during a foreclosure auction. They plan to restore the old home and run it again as a bed and breakfast.
The couple, from Lakeland, Fla., said they looked at dozens of places before falling in love with the Munroe Inn.
"When you walked in, it was like walking back in time," Melanie Davis said.
The inn made headlines in 2007 when Clinton Zimmerman, who owned the bed and breakfast with his wife, Connie, was accused of videotaping a guest using a camera hidden in a clock radio placed in that guest's bathroom. Zimmerman told police he planted the device to catch an employee he suspected of breaking objects in the suite.
Zimmerman pleaded guilty that year to the class D misdemeanor crime of violation of privacy. He was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and $127 in restitution to the district attorney's office, according to the 8th District Court in Lewiston.
The property had been posted for sale for a year before the incident. It was foreclosed on instead.
David and Melanie Davis bid on the inn during its foreclosure auction, but they lost to another bidder. That bidder did a little work on the property, but a few months later offered to sell it to the couple. They declined to say how much they paid for the Munroe Inn but said it was "well under assessed value."
David, 46, and Melanie, 44, are now refurbishing the home, with its four guest rooms and grand banquet space. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the couple plans to stay true to the home's 19th century roots in restoration and decoration while adding modern comforts, such as Wi-Fi. They are now researching the home's history so they can restore its original outside color.
"Sorry, I don't want to break anybody's heart, but we're not keeping the purple," Melanie said.
The couple dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast after they each retired from the police force in Florida. Although they've never run an inn before, they said they do have restaurant and managerial experience. They hope their law enforcement background will be of use, too, particularly when it comes to potential guests leery of staying at the Munroe Inn because of its recent history.
"I know the public is going to realize we're not the same owners. We don't have any intent of that (videotaping). We are simply here to have a great place for people to stay," David said. "I think our law enforcement background may help and make people a little more comfortable."
The couple hopes to open the inn by October, allowing them to gain experience during the slow season before business picks up in the spring. They believe the newly renovated bed and breakfast will be a draw to vacationers, families visiting Bates College in Lewiston and people in the area on business.
Eventually they expect to also reopen the restaurant the Zimmermans had run through the inn, though it will likely be open for lunch only.
So far the couple is happy with the move and with the reception they've gotten.
"Everyone has been wonderful. The neighbors here have been great. They've come and helped us cut the grass and pull weeds. The community's been great. The city's been awesome," Melanie said. "It's been a really warm welcome."