McDonald’s isn’t known for having regal restaurants – but there are uber-posh exceptions.
An elegant Golden Arches outlet is housed inside a 19th-century mansion in Freeport, Maine – with a sign carrying the fast-food chain’s famous logo subtly perched on the front lawn.
The building has a colonial facade, and inside, customers feast on lobster rolls and Big Macs in a sophisticated dining room, complete with a stately fireplace and candlesticks.
The McDonald’s in Freeport, Maine (pictured above), opened its doors back in 1984 (cc by 2.0)
The original mansion was built by Maine merchant William Gore around 1850
According to the Freeport Historical Society, the property – known as ‘Gore House’ – is a ‘combination of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture’ and was built by Maine merchant William Gore around 1850.
In the early 1980s, McDonald’s tried to introduce the chain to the town, but locals objected – the trademark red and yellow architecture of the fast-food restaurant went against the town’s strict building design codes.
McDonald’s made a compromise. In late 1983, the Freeport Zoning Board of Appeals permitted the chain to put a restaurant inside the historic Gore House.
‘Citizens in Freeport were angry when the McDonald’s Corporation bought the Gore house,’ the Freeport Historical Society reported in the 1996 book Images of America: Freeport.
Gordon Hamlin, a spokesman for the North Main Street Neighborhood Organization, which opposed the restaurant at the time, told the New York Times they were ‘really disappointed’ with the decision.
‘The exterior of the home was preserved to keep with the aesthetic of the centuries-old coastal town [of Freeport],’ McDonald’s says
The sophisticated dining room comes complete with a stately fireplace and candlesticks
Meanwhile, McDonald’s corporate media spokesperson Stephen Leroy told the publication: ‘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.
‘We are willing to spend the money to make it compatible with the area, the history, the community and the people who live there.’
The McDonald’s Corporation explained in a recent Instagram post: ‘The exterior of the home was preserved to keep with the aesthetic of the centuries-old coastal town.’
The restaurant opened its doors in 1984 and remains a hit with fast-food lovers today. Tying in with the grandeur of the architecture, the early interiors featured carved wooden dining chairs and Roman window blinds.
Contemporary wooden booth-style seating and industrial hanging lights were introduced in recent years. The walls are plastered with giant archival photographs of Freeport landmarks
A drive-thru was built on one side of the mansion, tucked out of sight of the main road.
Cyndi and Ron Lydick have owned and operated the business since 2007. ‘People love visiting just to see the uniqueness of the restaurant,’ Ron told the McDonald’s Corporation.
McDonald’s added: ‘Ron and Cyndi work closely with the Freeport Historical Society to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the town, working together to make sure the location honours the legacy of the city and the building itself.’
The McMansion’s interior underwent a modern renovation in the past few years, introducing contemporary wooden booth-style seating and industrial hanging lights.
Staying true to the building’s Freeport roots, the walls were plastered with giant archival photographs of local landmarks, with golden information plaques sharing facts about the area’s history.
On the walls, golden information plaques share facts about Freeport’s history
The traditional wooden seating in the dining room was updated, and the fireplace was remodelled with red brickwork and a slick white paint job.
Technology was also integrated into the makeover – today, standalone touchscreen robots take your order inside.
Outside, wooden benches and picnic tables are dotted between colourful beds of flowers.
Lobster rolls are served in the summer months, but otherwise, the fare is typical McDonald’s.
‘McDonald’s’ is written above the front door, but the signage is subtle. One Yelp reviewer admitted they ‘drove by not even realizing it was a McDonald’s’.
A discreet Golden Arches sign is perched on the estate’s front lawn (cc by 2.0)
The traditional wooden seating in the dining room (pictured) was updated in recent years
Pictured above is the restaurant before its renovation. Today, standalone touchscreen robots take your order inside
‘It’s a McDonald’s with a twist because it simply does not look like any Golden Arches you have ever seen. Kudos to corporate for approving such a wonderful design,’ wrote another.
A third was enamoured by the grand decor, writing: ‘Food is standard Mickey D’s, but the setting is worth going for. Set in an old house but with all the comforts. Even a fireplace.’
There’s another McMansion in New Hyde Park, New York.
Originally built as a farmhouse in 1795, the Long Island property was converted into a mansion for Joseph Denton, a descendent of one of the founders of the town of Hempstead in the 1860s.
In 1988, the building was designated as a historic landmark, so McDonald’s restored the building, mimicking the building’s 1920s look, before opening it in 1991.