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Updated: March 25, 2024

$28M Hotel Ursa opens as adaptive reuse of historic buildings at UMaine

rendering of brick buildings and people Courtesy / Radnor Property Group Rendering of Hotel Ursa at the University of Maine in Orono.

The first hotel on the campus of a Maine public college has opened in Orono.

Hotel Ursa, at 1 Moosehead Road on the University of Maine campus in Orono, has 95 guest rooms and a cafe and bar named MajorMinor.

The names are a nod to the UMaine mascot, the black bear, and were inspired by the Ursa Major and Minor constellations and the North Star that connects them. 

The $28 million hotel was developed through a historic rehabilitation of two original buildings on campus, Coburn Hall and Holmes Hall. 

Hotel Ursa was developed by Pennsylvania-based Radnor Property Group, a real estate development company with a strong presence in higher education public-private partnership projects in the Northeast, and Chicago-based Harrison Street, an investment management firm focused on alternative real assets.

Construction started in September 2022. The Portland firms Archetype Architects and Wright-Ryan Construction handled design and construction, respectively.

The hotel is being managed by Portland-based Olympia Hospitality.

Coburn and Holmes halls

Coburn Hall and Holmes Hall were built within yards of each other. Coburn originally housed the school’s agriculture and natural history departments, while Holmes contained labs and soon became home to the chemistry department.

The buildings were erected in 1887-88 and were designed in the Romanesque Revival style by architect Frank E. Kidder, who graduated from Maine State College, the precursor of UMaine, in 1879. 

In recent years, the structures had stood nearly vacant and little-used, unable to meet modern safety and accessibility codes.

For several years, UMaine looked around for a way to repurpose the buildings, until consultants finally recommended a campus hotel that could fetch average rates as much as $133 a night.

Now they have been transformed to offer modern rooms and suites designed to retain their vintage charm. A third building, Polaris Hall, was constructed with contemporary guestrooms.

“We are proud to be a partner in this project for the adaptive reuse of these historic buildings in the heart of the UMaine campus,” said Nick Allen, Radnor’s director of public private partnerships.

About the management company

Olympia Hospitality was chosen to operate the hotel because of its experience with campus hotel projects, which include the Alfond Inn at Rollins in Winter Park, Fla.; the Inn at Swarthmore in Swarthmore, Pa.; and the Hotel at Oberlin in Oberlin, Ohio — all boutique-style hotels conceived and designed in collaboration with their respective colleges, according to a news release.

Olympia’s expanding management portfolio nationwide also includes independently owned luxury boutique hotels and franchise properties with Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and others. 

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