L/A's HIGHEST RATED HOTEL
Located in the heart of Lewiston, Maine, the Inn at the Agora overlooks historic Kennedy Park where Presidential nominee John Kennedy spoke on November 7, 1960. At nearly 8,000 square feet of living space, this quintessential masterpiece was built in the mid-1800s by Captain Albert Kelsey and later purchased by the Roman Catholic Church as the rectory to St. Patrick's Church. Located a few blocks from Central Maine Medical Center and less than a mile from Bates College, the Inn at the Agora provides travelers a central location in Maine's second largest metropolitan area coupled with luxury amenities and all the comforts of home.
History of the Kelsey Mansion
The Italianate style mansion located at One Walnut Street was constructed around 1850 by Captain Albert Kelsey, famed Lewiston architect and city planner. The photograph at the left shows the property circa 1875, before the property was acquired to build St. Patrick's Church.
In 1886, the mansion was purchased by Monsignor Thomas Wallace of the Roman Catholic Church, along with the city block located at the corner of Bates Street and Walnut Street, so that St. Patrick's Church could be built. The property was then used as the church rectory until October 2009, when the church closed. The photograph at the left shows the property before the front porch and office were added in 1913, but after St. Patrick's Church was built.
In 2014, real estate developer Andrew Knight purchased and renovated the property, maintaining and accentuating its historical features while incorporating elements of the modern. It opened as the Inn at the Agora in September of 2014. Today, at over 7000 square feet, the three-story mansion has fourteen bedrooms and six bathrooms, five of which are available to families, professionals, lovers, and weary travelers.
The Kelsey Family Suite is named for the original owner and builder if this magnificent home. Captain Kelsey and his wife, son, and daughter resided in the home until it was bought in 1886 to serve as the rectory to St. Patrick's Church.
The Healy Suite is named for Bishop James Healy, who laid the cornerstone of St. Patrick's Church in 1887. Bishop Healy, born in 1830, was both the first ordained Roman Catholic priest, as well as the first American Roman Catholic Bishop, of African descent. Near the end of his life he was made assistant to the Papal throne by Pope Leo XIII, a position in the Catholic hierarchy just below that of cardinal.
The Gleason Suite is named for Monsignor Paul Gleason, who was pastor of St. Patrick’s Church from 1971 until his retirement in 1991. He was named Honorary Prelate to his Holiness by Pope Paul VI on December 20, 1968.
The Wallace Suite is named for the builder and first pastor of St. Patrick’s Church, Monsignor Thomas Wallace. Msr. Wallace, in 1886 and partly with his own private funds, purchased the Kelsey mansion and the lot located at the corner of Bates and Walnut Streets. He oversaw the construction of St. Patrick’s Church and remained its pastor from its opening on Christmas, 1890, until his passing in 1906. At his request, a mortuary chapel was constructed directly below St. Patrick’s chapel and in 1910 his remains were brought from Mt. Hope Cemetery and interred in this crypt, where he remained until his body was exhumed and moved back to Mt. Hope Cemetery when St. Patrick’s Church was deconsecrated in 2009.
The McDonough Family Suite is named for Rt. Rev. McDonough, who left St. Mary’s in Bangor to become pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in 1906 after the passing of Monsignor Wallace. He remained the pastor until his passing in 1933.
History of the Church & Chapel
In 1886, the Kelsey mansion and approximately one-acre lot were purchased under the direction of Monsignor Thomas Wallace. On June 24, 1887, the cornerstone, which bears the original date, was laid by Bishop James Healy. Construction on the church and chapel continued for over three years, including construction of a 220-foot principal tower and spire – Maine’s tallest – in true Neogothic style and architecture. The church officially opened on Christmas, 1890.
In 1895, the house and lot just south of the church were purchased, providing a convent for the Sisters of Notre Dame; in 1957 this lot was developed as a parking lot to meet greater demand. In 1927, a Munich manufacturer built and installed the stained glass windows in St. Patrick’s church, which were removed by the Roman Catholic Church and sold to a Japanese company in 2011. In 1960, the entire church was renovated at a cost of $50,000 (nearly $400,000 in 2014 dollars).
The Portland Diocese closed the church in 2009, its final mass being held in October of that year. The former church and rectory remained vacant until purchased in 2014 by real estate developer Andrew Knight, who immediately acted to protect the church and chapel from the elements and fully renovated the former rectory into a boutique hotel, which opened in September, 2014, as the Inn at the Agora. Renovation and construction began on the church and chapel in July of 2015, and on May 7, 2016, these beautiful buildings were reopened as a large events venue, The Agora Grand Events Center, capable of accommodating large conferences, celebrations, and weddings.
Meet the innkeepers
Billie-Jayne & Wess Cooke
Billie grew up in a little town in Maine named Greenville, on the shores of beautiful Moosehead Lake which is 2 1/2 hours from Lewiston. She brought Wess up to Maine in 2014 to show him where she grew up, and he fell in love with the state too. Wess is a Virginia boy, but they made their home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where they met and raised a blended family of five boys together and now they are thrilled to call Lewiston home giving Wess the opportunity for a lot of hunting and fishing of our great state.
Prior to becoming the owners of the Inn at the Agora and the Agora Grand Event Center located next door, Billie was an information security project manager. She has a BS from Penn State in Quantitative Business Analysis, an MBA in eBusiness from the University of Phoenix, and is also a PMI certified project manager. She retired from the corporate world in June of 2018 to pursue this new adventure. Wess has been one of the few musicians that can proudly say he has always been fortunate enough to make his living doing what he loved. He has performed all over, primarily focused on the east coast and has been part of the Williamsburg Opry, Carolina Opry, and just ended an 18 year run with the American Music Theatre in Lancaster. Our guests will all have the opportunity to be entertained with his acoustic guitar skills, and talented "pipes" in informal settings in the evenings on occasion either in the parlor, on the porch, or in the courtyard.
They are joined here by our youngest son, Dominic and Dom's "ancient" dog Sammy. They all live on the third floor of the Inn in the Innkeepers' Quarters.
Located along the Androscoggin River, Lewiston-Auburn, Maine, is considered the gateway to Maine’s beautiful lakes and mountains, with scenic beaches and picturesque coastal villages less than an hour away. Long ago the Great Falls on the river powered the twin cities’ economy…an economy based on huge fabric mills and many shoe factories. Today, a diversified business base features renovated mills, shopping facilities and restaurants, as well as two world-class hospitals (CMMC and St. Mary's Health System) and one of the nation's finest colleges, Bates College. The arts and local history feature prominently in the area’s draw, both of which are celebrated with festivals, performances and exhibits throughout the year. Take a smartphone self-guided tour of L/A by downloading the new app from the Androscoggin Land Trust.