By Judy Wilbur Craig - DEXTER - Mark and Judith Stevens have been corresponding with me and others from Dexter, for many months through their journey of purchasing the Brewster Inn while still living in England. The journey consisted of many ups and downs with the American Embassy while jumping their hoops and piles of paperwork.
The Stevens are now in the states visiting friends throughout the US but will be arriving in Dexter the first week in February ready to become part of our community.
Mark has impressed me with his enthusiasm to become a "part of Dexter" and can't wait to start participating in life in small town Maine. Snow and extreme cold are going to one of the first "new adventures" for the couple. They are also excited on learning Maine phrases, exchange England traditions, food and thoughts.
Below are 2 stories that appeared in papers in England during the time of their departure for the United States.
One is a modest detached house, the other a grand tenbedroom colonial mansion built in the 1930s.
About the only thing they have in common is a similar price - the house cost £200,000, the mansion £258,000 - and the fact that the owners of the house have now bought the mansion.
But for Mark and Judith Stephens, it is quite a move. Their old house is in Gloucester, their new home thousands of miles away in the U.S. state of Maine.
The couple have cashed in on rocketing property prices here to sell their three-bedroom home in the Abbeymead area and leave Britain for a new life.
Their new mansion in the town of Dexter was once owned by controversial former state governor Owen Brewster, a politician who once made headlines as a rival to reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.
Mr and Mrs Stephens, both 41, fell in love with their new home, which is on America's National Register of Historic Places and which they plan to run as a guest house, after a holiday to Maine.
Mr Stephens, a former salesman, could not believe the difference in house prices between the U.S. and British markets.
A three-bedroom detached property in Dexter costs around £52,000. Outside the town, property is even cheaper, with a five bedroom farmhouse on sale for £62,000.
Mr Stephens said: "We've been thinking about it for a couple of years. It's not easy moving to another country but it was too much of an opportunity and exciting-adventure to pass up." The couple-left yesterday after spending a year sorting out the red tape.
After living in Gloucester for 16 years, they are sad to be leaving everything, but Mr Stephens said: "The house is a world-renowned landmark, what an exchange."
Former owner Mr Brewster, who died in 1961, was rumored to be involved with the Ku Klux Klan. Mr Stephens said: "We know he was said to be associated with the Klan and appeared at their meetings but officially he was never involved. You don't get more notorious than that."
The couple's new home, Brewster Inn, came complete with antiques, including classic radio sets, model trains, books and paintings. Former president Harry S Truman once slept there.
The previous owners, Americans Mike and Ivy Brooks, both 58, said they understood why Mr and Mrs Stephens wanted to make the move to peaceful Dexter (population 4,000) from crime-ridden Gloucester (population 110,000).
Mr Brooks said: "There aren't many problems round here. The schools are good. There's a beautiful lake for fishing and diving and there's not much crime, it's a pretty safe area. Not many people lock their doors round these parts."
News Story Number 2
Mark Stephens is best known as a Cheltenham Town fanatic but he's leaving it all behind to move to Maine in America. After 16 years, he and his wife Judith are quitting Whaddon Road to live in the home of controversial former state governor Owen Brewster.
When the couple saw the house up for sale for more than 500,000 they didn't dream they could afford it.
But Gloucestershire's rocketing house prices meant they could afford to buy the 10-bedroom mansion, which is included in America's National Register of Historic Places.
A holiday in May 2005 in north-east America sparked the idea of the move and when they spotted the 8,000 sq ft property set in two-and-a-half acres in Dexter they knew they had to have it.
By selling their home in Abbeymead for more than £200,000 they were able to put a deposit down for the mansion.
Mr. Brewster was a friend of Joseph McCarthy and was thought to support the Klu Klux Klan. But it was his rivalry with reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes - featured in Martin Scorcese's film The Aviator - that brought him international attention. He accused Mr. Hughes of wasting 40 million of government money paid for planes he never built.
Mr. Hughes accused him of being part of a corrupt plot by Pan Am airways to force a monopoly on flights.
After Mr. Brewster died in 1961, his house, which had been the scene of fabulous society parties, was turned into a bed and breakfast.
Mark said: "We know he was said to be associated with the Ku Klux Klan and appeared at their meetings but officially he was never involved. You don't get more notorious than that. "There's a whole section of the cemetery there for his family. "He was a Christian scientist who didn't believe in medical intervention and his son died after a burst appendix," said Mark.
The couple will run the 1930s colonial house as a bed and breakfast.
Mark said: "It will never be our home with all the memorabilia from the Brewster age. We've bought a big chunk of history and I think his notoriety is part of what drew us to his home."
The couple are nervous and excited about the move tomorrow. Mark, 41, a former salesman, said: "It's not easy moving to another country. "But it was too much of an opportunity and exciting adventure to pass up.
"We felt a strong connection to the area when we holidayed there and felt sad leaving it behind."
Judith, 39, said: "We've been thinking about it for a couple of years and after our holiday we thought it was something we could realistically do."
The couple have spent a year completing paperwork and got their visas in December.
They're shipping most of their belongings over and after a holiday in North Carolina will arrive on February 1. They've spent the last few weeks making the most of everything British from a takeaway to a stroll through the Cotswolds.
Mark said: "We'll miss the Cotswolds, Cheltenham and things like cheese rolling in Brockworth - the Americans don't understand that at all. "But we've got to go and give it a try - we can always come back."
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