I visited America’s most sophisticated McDonald’s built inside a 170-year-old mansion. Here’s what it’s like.

  • There's a McDonald's built inside a colonial mansion from the 1850s in Freeport, Maine.
  • McDonald's had to adhere to strict design rules and fit in with the surrounding buildings in order to be allowed to open.
  • The signage is so subtle I almost missed it when I stopped while on a recent RV trip from New York City to Maine.
  • The fast-food restaurant is cute on the outside, while the inside looks like any other McDonald's location.
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The McDonald's in the small town of Freeport, Maine, is housed inside a 170-year-old colonial mansion. I checked it out while on a recent road trip in an RV from New York City to Maine.

It's only a few blocks from L.L. Bean's flagship store.

The signage is so subtle I almost walked by it.

In fact, this is the only pair of golden arches I saw.

The building was converted into a McDonald's in 1984, and to this day is the only McDonald's in town.

Source: The New York Times

The mansion, formerly known as the Gore House, was built by a prominent local merchant by the name of William Gore in 1850, according to The Freeport Historical Society.

Source: Freeport Historical Society

McDonald's wanted to build a location in a residential area but faced Freeport's strict building design codes, as well as locals who were against the opening of a McDonald's in their town, according to The New York Times.

Source: The New York Times

To appease those locals as well as adhere to the design codes, they decided to transform a home in order to fit in with the town's aesthetic. The Freeport Historical Society describes the mansion as having "a mix of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture."

Source: Freeport Historical Society

"What we are doing there is something we probably have never done before in terms of design and the amount of time and effort involved," said Stephen Leroy, manager of McDonald's media relations, in 1984, according to The New York Times.

Source: The New York Times

There's a welcoming garden with McDonald's-branded benches outside.

There's also a drive-thru that was quite busy when I visited, probably because indoor dining was prohibited at the time of my visit due to the coronavirus pandemic.

I'd heard that this location serves lobster rolls some summers, but, unfortunately, these weren't on the menu at the time of my visit.

Source: Business Insider

The inside is surprisingly modern thanks to touchscreens, which juxtapose the old-fashioned exterior.

It felt like a regular McDonald's.

The décor includes old images of Freeport.

Most of the interior was nothing to write home about …

… But, through a closed door, I did see a room with sconces and cozy fireplaces that looked more like a pub than any McDonald's I've been to. I imagine eating a Big Mac in this environment would make it feel less like fast food and more like fine dining.

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