Winburn M. Staples was born on February 8, 1855, at the family home on top of Baker Hill in Naples, Maine. After the civil war, the family moved to the Daniel Perley farm in South Bridgton. In school, Winburn excelled in wrestling and the cold months' winter sports. Upon graduation, Winburn had no urge to be a farmer and so pursued work in business. His first job was as a general assistant at his uncle's grocery & dry goods store in Pondicherry Square, at the site of the former I.G.A., an area known at the time as the "lower village". He purchased this business from his uncle, eventually sold it and built a large new one in Post Office Square in 1885. It burned down in 1898, was rebuilt, and burned again in 1924.
Winburn married his Bridgton Academy classmate, Idalyn M. Gove and they built their first house, an Italianate across the street, which is currently owned by Henry Precht. In 1903, construction was completed on their next house here. He also owned, but never lived in the "Stone House".
In the 1890s, he bought the little steamer, "Lady of the Lake" and transported it overland using horses to haul it from Long Lake to Highland Lake. He operated the wood-burning 10-passenger steamer, charging a modest fee to drop passengers off here and there around Highland Lake.
Winburn Staples prospered in business and became influential in town. He served as town treasurer, selectman, a representative in the legislature, state senator, and Bridgton Academy trustee. He bought and sold real estate, particularly lakeside timber lots, which he cleared and sold for use as boys and girls camps. He and other prominent citizens founded the Bridgton National Bank in 1908. He served as its first president. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the region was left with no banking facilities. So, Winburn raised $10,000 to secure enough shared to open a branch of a Portland bank here in Bridgton, eventually giving the shares to the town, which was to use its income for the relief of the "Worthy Poor".
In 1917, Winburn Staples and others created the Northern Cumberland Memorial Hospital Corporation, which did not establish a physical presence until the purchase and conversion of the William F. Perry House on Main Hill. The hospital formally opened in 1941, but Winburn and Idalyn had already died, within a month of one another, in the late winter of 1939. They are buried in Forest Cemetery.
Mrs. Handy was the second owner of the home and lived there alone. Rumors are that she wandered through the house at night and cut the curtains up vertically while they were still standing in the windows.
In 1945 or 1946, Dr. Fred Gilbert "Gib" Noble bought the house, paying $8000 cash with another $1000 for the furniture, linens, paintings, and the parlor grand, still here in the living room. The Nobles raised their family in this house, living here for about 30 years. Gib Noble was renowned for his hunting and displayed huge moose antlers over the barn door. The head of a Dahl ram he shot in Alaska is still in the family room today. He stopped hunting in his later years and took up golf. The third floor was finished and called "the dorm" where the children and cousins slept in the summer, and where Gib reloaded bullets at his workbench.
The Nobles loved to entertain and always had a lot of company at the house. The parlor grand piano was the center of much entertaining and is believed to be original to the home. It was built circa 1898 by the Gildemeester-Kroeger Company of New York. Kroeger, Steinway's piano foreman, decided to break away from his employer to create his own piano company. So, with the financial backing of Gildemeister, the brand was born and this piece found its way to the home.
In the early 1980s, Richard "Dick" & Jane Staretts purchased the home and converted it to a bed & breakfast. Work was done on the barn to extend the single-gable roofline and a new foundation was laid. This allowed for the creation of 3 levels of guestrooms in what is now called the carriage house. The starrett's opened "The Noble House B&B" and raised their family here until Dick's death in 1997. The inn was purchased in 2000 and owned for a brief time by Steve & Sherri Matte, who added the sunny breakfast room. The home was purchased in 2003 by Fredric "Rick" and Julie Whelchel, who renovated and restored original features, including exterior stonework and the piazza stairs. Original blueprints remain with the house and were used for these restoration projects. Today the home continues to be operated as a full-service inn and features four suites, four guestrooms, and innkeeper's quarters.
The home was designed as a Queen Anne Victorian and deeded in 1903, but construction was well underway by late 1901 as evidenced by dated signatures found on the horsehair plaster walls during the 2010 parlor restoration. This project also revealed details shown on the original blueprints including a vestibule, an inglenook, and a set of pocket doors in the parlor. Outstanding features of the home are the sister fireplaces with ornate masonry in the parlor and dining room. James Carroll Mead and Joseph F. Witham built the home. Witham was the grocer-owner of the "Brick Store" in the center village while Mead (1858-1915) was a painter, legislator, and prominent citizen of Bridgton, likely a colleague of Sen. Staples. It's worth noting that Mead's father, Lt. John Mead was a painter as well, famous for his Masonic hall murals here in town.
It is believed that the carriage house was added in the 1920s, making the home a prime example of the connected farm building, a style prominent on New England farms in the late 19th century and early 20th century. (Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn, Thomas C. Hubka, 1984).
In 2001, a movie was filmed here entitled, "Baby It's Cold Outside".