John Travolta seeks to sell Islesboro mansion for $5 million
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 her friend, TV star Kirstie Alley, bought a house and wanted “everyone to move in,” Travolta said in a 1999 Architectural Digest article on the couple’s vacation home in Maine.
He and Preston ended up buying an estate near the village of Dark Harbor on North Islesboro. The house at 299 Drexel Lane, known as both Gripsholm Manor and George WC Drexel Estate, has 20 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms and a separate guest house. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 1985.
According to Sotheby’s International Realty listing, the 10,830 square foot home is being sold with 48 acres of land in total, including a private dock at Sabbathday Harbor on the island’s east coast. The land is partially in conservation with the Islesboro Islands Trust.
“[It] features beautiful open fields with ocean views, walking paths through the woods to the shore, beach and open ocean access, gardens, and a majestic approach down a winding gravel road covered in trees. ‘trees,’ the listing reads.
The house also went on 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, the islanders and other inhabitants of Maine’s mid-coast have become accustomed to spotting stars and their families in the area. In general, the Mainers respected and protected their privacy, but it was often a pleasure to realize that a star was close. Travolta is famous for his lead roles in ‘Grease’, ‘Saturday Night Fever’, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and more.
According to a story published in the Penobscot Bay Pilot in December 2014, a small group of singers from Camden sang “Jingle Bells” to two men they saw in the kitchen of the Camden House of Pizza. They were almost done when they realized that one of the men was Travolta.
“My eyes widen in recognition and he smiles his beautiful, beautiful smile! I want to jump up and scream like a little teenager. John Travolta!” singer Kim Murphy said in a 2014 post in the pilot.
On at least one occasion, however, tensions arose between the Travoltas and the locals. It happened in the summer of 1999, when the islanders spotted a low-flying plane buzzing at the Travoltas’ home. There was speculation that the actor, a pilot, was flying the plane or was a passenger on the plane, which was confirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration to be a large carrier-type jet.
“I never want to see a 707 in front of my house this close again,” Agatha Cabaniss, a longtime Islesboro resident, told the Bangor Daily News. “He wasn’t 500 feet from my window.”
But the islanders protected 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 themselves apart and loved their children very much.
“Other than that, I have nothing to say,” said Dave “Shake” Mahan, the longtime owner of Island Market.
The following year, the family’s two dogs were killed at Bangor International Airport when a service van hit them on the tarmac.
After Kelly Preston, 57, died in 2020 after a two-year battle with breast cancer, Travolta and her family continued to visit the island. He and kids Ella and Ben came to Islesboro last Christmas, according to an Instagram post from Travolta.