In March, Unity College announced that the Couri Foundation of Maine, established by Elaine and John Couri, had gifted a historic sporting lodge and campus located in the Moose River Valley to the College. On June 29, 2018, that became official with the transfer of Sky Lodge’s ownership from the Couri Foundation to the College.
“Elaine and John Couri will forever have a special place in the hearts and history of Unity College for the faith they have shown and the investment they have made in the work of the College,” Unity College President Melik Peter Khoury. “I cannot emphasize enough just how much of a game-changer this gift from Elaine and John is for the College. Now it is up to us to realize the incredible potential of Unity College: Sky Lodge. This is going to enable our students to actually run a sustainable business in the real world, where other schools can only offer models inside a classroom. Unity College: Sky Lodge, alongside McKay Farm and Research Station, and other educational enterprises brings our curriculum to life for our students.”
“Elaine and I have a lot of very fond memories of Sky Lodge,” said John Couri, President of the Couri Foundation, “and it makes us happy that now we get to pass this special place onto Unity College and these students, who will make thousands more memories that they’ll cherish for their entire lives.”
In addition to the transfer of ownership, Unity College is looking to hire a director for the new facility to not only help ensure the continuity, but to also help weave the College’s sustainability-centered mission into the fabric of the lodge and to help the College become an integrated part of the Moose River Valley community.
“Whether it’s through college classes, vacationers, or conferences, I think it’s going to bring new people to the area every day for different reasons,” said Jackman Selectman Alan Duplessis. “I think that Unity College also has the opportunity to establish some programs that will benefit the community.”
“This is a new beginning at Sky Lodge that I am so excited to be a part of,” added Michelle Morrison, Manager of Unity College: Sky Lodge. “With Unity’s vision and leadership going forward, we will be able to bring all types of guests to the Moose River Valley region. The ability to showcase what an amazing place we have can benefit us all.”
A ribbon-cutting and celebration will take place at Sky Lodge on Friday, September 7, to honor Elaine and John Couri, cut the ribbon, provide tours for internal and external audiences, and give the Moose River Valley and representatives from all over Maine a chance to get the full Unity College experience.
“For the celebration, we’re inviting all of our students, faculty, and staff up to Unity College: Sky Lodge,” Dr. Khoury said. “I’m especially interested in seeing the reaction from our students. Most of them will be seeing it for the first time, and I’m certain that their gears will start turning as they tour the campus and get ideas of how the space will enhance their education and experience at Unity College.”
To fully integrate college life with Unity College: Sky Lodge, transportation for students will be provided throughout the school year, as well as for Nova trips for incoming first-year students. Moving forward, similar transportation will also be available for students traveling from the Flagship campus to other sites where classes are offered, including the newly renovated Unity College Center for the Performing Arts.
“I’m very excited that the College has already been spending time here and have taken part in events with the Jackman leadership team, participated in the healthcare board meetings, and more,” Duplessis said. “Unity College wants to know more about the area, and President Khoury and the staff have been very willing to learn more about what they can do to help our community.”
Built in 1929 as a sporting getaway for an executive from Port Chester, New York, and then purchased and renamed “Sky Lodge” by two former WWII airmen in the 1940s, the main lodge has been lovingly restored over the past decade to its original state. Other amenities on the more than 150 acres include a conference center, contemporary cabins for rental, a swimming pool, an antique auto museum, a model railroad museum, and ski trails. Outdoor activities nearby include hiking, golfing, biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, whitewater rafting, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more.