If you don’t know who Stephen King is, you’ve obviously been hiding under a rock for the past 50 years. The best-selling horror author has made a name for himself not only through his books but through his progressive political views, which he expresses frequently on his Twitter account.
King and his wife, author Tabitha King, have lived in Bangor, Maine, since the 1970s. Their Victorian mansion with wrought-iron gates depicting bats and spiders (that’s a photo of it up there), located at 47 West Broadway, has long been a fixture and attraction in the small city.
Now the Kings are in the beginning stages of a plan to turn a second house on the 3.7-acre property into a writers’ retreat, and the main house into an archive. On October 16, 2019, the Bangor City Council unanimously approved a request by the Kings to rezone their home as a nonprofit organization housing an archive of King’s work and up to five writers at a time.
“The King family has been wonderful to the City of Bangor over time and have donated literally millions of dollars to various causes in the community,” City Councilor Ben Sprague told Rolling Stone. “Preserving his legacy here in Bangor is important for this community.”
“They did not want the house to become a Dollywood or some kind of tourist attraction,” Bangor planning officer David Gould told NECN. “That would bring all sorts of people to the neighborhood, and they have other neighbors that live here.”
Longtime Bangor resident Stu Tinker, who operates tours of the city to sights that appear in King’s books, said he wasn’t upset that the house itself wouldn’t be completely open to the public. “I think it’s great,” he said. “Steve and Tabby are so generous, not only to Bangor but to the whole state, and they do it from the heart and they’re not doing it for publicity.”
If you have your writerly heart set on a retreat at the King house, you’re going to have to wait a while. Stephen King shared the following statement October 18 on his Facebook page: “We are in the very beginning of planning the writers’ retreat at the house next door, providing housing for up to five writers in residence at a time. The zoning change getting press coverage was the first step. We are one to two years away from an operating retreat.”
As for the archives, “The archives formerly held at the University of Maine will be accessible for restricted visits by appointment only. There will not be a museum and nothing will be open to the public, but the archives will be available to researchers and scholars,” King wrote.
So, writers: pick up your pens or sit down at your computers and start writing! You’ll have to apply for the writers’ retreat, and writing samples will almost certainly be part of the vetting process for retreat attendees
Photo: Stephen and Tabitha King’s house in Bangor, Maine. Credit: Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com