PARIS — The money, according Janice Davis, owner of King’s Hill Inn and Barn, had very little to do with it.

“We want to see the smiles, laughter, the memories being made,” Davis said.

Which is why when Davis and husband Glenn decided to renovate their 200-year old historic farmhouse they transformed the barn, once an animal stable and resting place for generations “of stuff,” into a wedding destination with sweeping views of their sprawling garden, moss-covered rock walls and views of mountains stretching into the distance.

Not everything about the renovation was so pretty.

“We tore up five layers of soggy floorboards, spongy and wet from the accumulated waste of farm animals. When I found out, I wanted to stop, but you just have to keep going at that point,” she said.

Decidedly animal-free, the barn is now a rustic, open space with rough-hewn wood pillars and a chintz, cozy loft with state-of-the-art fireplace and sound system. It’s country gentleman with a penthouse splash, Davis pitches, adding that the stay is more important than the price.

While growing up in the south — she offers sweet ice tea before the tour starts — Davis said she became passionate about the areas’ history from afar. After moving to Bangor, she and Glenn — who lived for a time further afield in Western Maine — was lured to the property in 1998 knowing it had a deep connection to some of Paris’ most famous sons.

Built around 1797, the homestead is known by the father of its most famous son, Capt. Samuel King, a carpenter and builder. Davis and historian friends have researched the property’s history for years. As best as they can tell, the building served a growing family — King, through two marriages, had a least a half-dozen children — with a grain silo, barn, grape vines and large farmhouse.

The King’s were well-known, established and respectable family during the heyday of Paris’ economic rise when it was an agricultural bread basket famed for its dairy and later as a bustling mill town.

Davis picks up the farmhouse’s history through its most famous — and seventh — son, Horatio King. Born in 1811, Horatio became Postmaster General under President James Buchanan and was friends with Paris’s most famous ancestor, Hannibal Hamlin, Vice President during Abraham Lincoln’s first term.

An editor of the local newspaper, The Jeffersonian, a lawyer and a writer, King was tapped by Lincoln to implement the Emancipation Proclamation in Washington, D.C.

Inside the farmhouse, Davis hops from through rooms and halls, picking up a photograph here, a clipping from The Jeffersonian there, launching into tales eked through research by simply touching bare stretches of the home’s walls, encouraging guests to believe that history is very much alive here.

The setting helps. Old stone walls border the same straight road that once connected Hebron to Paris. King’s house was once on a major thoroughfare between the two wealthy villages as carriages bundled to Paris Hill. It’s closed today; the road instead a horseshoe branching from Route 117.

Time has left its mark in other ways. The side of the barn facing the ascending hill is bowed, curved like a barrel stave by a hundred years of rainwater coursing downhill and puddling at its base. It’s a popular spot for wedding photos.

“We love that,” Davis said.

The past has not been completely forthcoming; mysteries abound. The current barn dates to the turn of the century — Davis pegs it around 1899 — but the exact date has either not been recorded or defies discovery.

Paying customer or no, Davis encourages anyone to visit the walk and tour the property, strolling the lilac gardens or the moss-covered rock walls a their leisure. As she glides through the tour, two woman from a sexual assault advocacy group join. They’re interested in referencing the quiet, tranquil grounds as a place people can go to find peace.

A few years ago, Davis fought with cancer. Glenn has his own medical issues. Coming out of the ordeal, Davis had an epiphany that they could do more good by helping the sick heal through therapy than by growing their own wallets, so she kept her prices low even as renovation costs mounted.

“Our motto is, ‘this is 200-years old — come see it, world!’


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