In a case that could be brought to court, Bowdoin seems to be pushing back against the $1.6 million dollar asking price for 28 College Street, the last remaining non-campus property on College Street. Bowdoin has denied that the property is the place where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” despite the owner’s claims. According to an article in the Bangor Daily News, Arline Pennell Lay, the owner of the property, was notified by her attorney last week that the College plans to file a lawsuit to make Lay adhere to a 1996 agreement with the College. The agreement states that the College can buy the property at 125 percent of its appraised value if the owner dies or puts it on the market; with the appraised price at $154,300, the College should only pay $192,875 for the house. However, Lay and her attorney, Sean Joyce, claim that an attorney was not present at the time of this agreement; Bowdoin’s attorney claims otherwise, according to Joyce. The College has said that it will leave the issue up to its lawyers.
“We’re investigating whether or not [Lay] had representation and [whether] it was, essentially, unequal bargaining,” Joyce told the Bangor Daily News. 

The high asking price of the house is attributed to Lay and her family’s claim that Stowe rented a room on the second floor between 1850 and 1851 where she wrote much of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” However, the College has pushed back against this claim over the years with evidence that Stowe wrote the novel at 63 Federal Street, her home from 1851 to 1852, and Appleton Hall, where her husband had a study.

The property is listed on the National Register of Historic places. However, according to Joyce, the College attributes this to the property’s other historical significance. According to the Lay family, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned a poem, “The Old Clock on the Stairs,” about a grandfather clock in the house. Norman Rockwell also apparently modeled his painting, “Freedom from Want,” after members of Lay’s family, Alice Lay and Richard Coffin. The real estate listing states that, “Other famous people such as President and Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Chris Wallace and William Cohen have stayed at this home.”