LEWISTON — The Inn at the Agora is being sold and longtime innkeeper Jan Barrett is hitting the road.

Last summer, Agora owner Andrew Knight put the Walnut Street inn up for sale, with an asking price of $1.2 million.

He got a bite soon after, and this week Billie-Jayne Cooke announced she and husband, Wess, were buying the inn, along with its event center and all of the historic architecture of the former church and rectory.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed. Cooke expects to finalize the deal next Wednesday.

Her plans for the inn? Try to draw more events to the area, with a possible emphasis on entertainment.

“It’d be awesome,” Cooke said Wednesday, “if we could bring in some more good things to the area around Kennedy Park, and maybe change some of the dynamics of what’s been happening here.”

Cooke grew up in Greenville but has spent the past 35 years in Pennsylvania. Her husband, an entertainer, plans to join her in Lewiston in October, after he finishes a contract. Cooke said Wednesday she expects no big changes at the inn before then.

Knight, a developer, moved to Lewiston from the Washington, D.C., area in 2014, and bought the former St. Patrick’s Church and rectory. He refurbished the late-1800s buildings at Bates and Walnut streets, turning the rectory into a boutique inn that opened in March 2015 and turning the church into a wedding venue and event center that opened in spring 2016.

In August 2017, Knight put the building up for sale, touting the event center’s mix of historic architecture and modern updates, with 58 original church pews, stained glass, custom lighting and sound systems, a commercial kitchen and a two-level balcony lounge.

The listing highlighted the inn’s 8,548 square feet of space, with five guest rooms, two annexes for family guest rooms and a third-floor innkeeper’s suite.

The innkeeper’s suite will soon be vacant, as it turns out. After four years of running the inn — and after decades of owning, running or baby-sitting inns and hotels all over the area — Barrett is moving on.

Barrett, former owner of Lewiston’s Ware Street Inn, does not plan to stay at a single hotel, motel or inn over the next year.

“My daughter and I decided that we were going to buy a fifth-wheel RV and a big truck,” Barrett said Thursday. “We’re going to be touring the United States, hitting all the national parks for the next year, at least.”

Earlier this week, Barrett and her daughter, Della, found the perfect 2012 RV and a truck to haul it around the country. They plan to hit the road in October and be gone for at least a year, along with Della’s two children who will be home-schooled.

“It’s so scary and it’s so exciting,” Barrett said. “We’ve never done this before. We have to learn everything.”

Barrett’s grandson plans to video log their trip around the country, and Barrett said she will be launching a blog to keep in touch with friends and colleagues back home.

The retiring innkeeper said she and her daughter had long been talking about buying an RV and traveling. Last year’s harsh winter was the clincher for them. That and Barrett’s yearning to try something new.

“This is such a huge lifestyle change for me,” she said. “I’m 71 years old. It’s time to do it.”

Knight was out of the country this week and unavailable to comment on the sale.

The Inn at the Agora on Walnut Street in Lewiston has been sold.


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