Longtime temporary Islesboro resident and Hollywood star John Travolta has listed his island home for $5 million.
Travolta, 68, and his late wife, Kelly Preston, bought the 1903 Tudor Revival mansion 31 years ago. They came to the island after his friend, TV star Kirstie Alley, bought a home and wanted “everyone to move there,” Travolta said in a 1999 Architectural Digest article about the couple’s vacation home in Maine.
He and Preston wound up buying an estate near the village of Dark Harbor on North Islesboro. The home at 299 Drexel Lane, known as both Gripsholm Manor and the George W.C. Drexel Estate, features 20 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms and a separate guest house. It was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in May 1985.
According to the listing with Sotheby’s International Realty, the 10,830 square foot home is being sold along with 48 total acres of land, including a private dock on Sabbathday Harbor on the island’s eastern shore. The land is partially in conservation with the Islesboro Islands Trust.
“[It] includes wonderful open fields with ocean views, walking paths through the woods down to the shorefront, beach and open ocean access, garden areas, and a majestic approach up a tree covered winding gravel road,” the listing said.
The house was also listed for sale in 2021, but was taken off the market. Alley sold her Islesboro home in April 2020, after being part of the island community for nearly 30 years.
For many years, islanders and others in mid-coast Maine grew used to spotting the stars and their families around the area. In general, Mainers respected and protected their privacy, but it was often a thrill to realize a star was near. Travolta is famous for starring roles in “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever, “Pulp Fiction” and more.
According to one story published in the Penobscot Bay Pilot in Dec. 2014, a small group of carolers in Camden had been singing “Jingle Bells” to two men they saw in the kitchen of the Camden House of Pizza. They were almost through when they realized that one of the men was Travolta.
“My eyes widen in recognition and he is smiling that wonderful, beautiful grin of his! I want to jump up and down and scream like a little teenager. John Travolta!” caroler Kim Murphy said in a 2014 article in the Pilot.
On at least one occasion, though, tensions did arise between the Travoltas and locals. That happened in the summer of 1999, when islanders spotted a low-flying jet buzzing the Travolta’s home. There was speculation that the actor, a pilot, was either flying the plane or was a passenger in the aircraft, which was confirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration to be a large carrier-type jet.
“I don’t want to ever see a 707 in front of my house as close as that again,” longtime Islesboro resident Agatha Cabaniss told the Bangor Daily News. “He was not 500 feet from my window.”
But islanders were protective of the family after tragedy struck in 2009, when 16-year-old Jett Travolta died of a seizure in the Bahamas. They described the Travoltas as private people who kept to themselves and loved their children dearly.
“Other than that, I don’t have anything to say,” Dave “Shake” Mahan, the longtime owner of the Island Market, said.
The following year, the family’s two dogs were killed at Bangor International Airport when a service pickup truck struck them on the tarmac.
After Kelly Preston, 57, died in 2020 after a two-year battle with breast cancer, Travolta and his family continued to visit the island. He and children Ella and Ben came to Islesboro this past Christmas, according to a post on Travolta’s Instagram.