Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

October 11, 2023

Hotel on UMaine campus now has a name and plans for opening

Courtesy / University of Maine A rendering shows the facades of the two UMaine buildings that are being renovated into a 95-room hotel.

The first hotel on the campus of a Maine public college now has a name, a website and plans for opening this spring.

The 95-room boutique inn is called Hotel Ursa, and is taking shape at an estimated cost of $28 million, inside and nearby two of the oldest buildings at the University of Maine in Orono.

Coburn Hall and Holmes Hall were built within yards of each other in 1888, some 20 years after the university — then known as Maine State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts — enrolled its first students. Coburn originally housed the school’s agriculture and natural history departments, while Holmes contained labs and soon became home to the chemistry department.

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

Meanwhile, their expenses were racking up. UMaine was paying $100,000 a year simply to heat the buildings, and deferred maintenance totaled millions of dollars more, the university told Mainebiz in 2021.

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.

Construction began in September 2022, with joint-venture backing from a Pennsylvania real estate developer, Radnor Property Group, and Harrison Street, a Chicago investment management firm. Two local firms, Archetype Architects and Wright-Ryan, are handling design and construction. The property is operated by Portland-based Olympia Hotel Management.

The hotel will open sometime in the spring, an Olympia spokesperson told Mainebiz. On Wednesday, the hotel's website was already accepting reservations for July 1, 2024, at rates of $184 (for a "historic" room in Coburn Hall), $189 (for a standard room in a new building, adjacent to Holmes Hall), and $214 (for a room in Holmes Hall).

In total, Hotel Ursa will offer 30 guestrooms in Coburn Hall, seven in Holmes Hall and 58 in the modern addition, dubbed Polaris Hall, the spokesperson said.

Also in the works is a cafe-bar, dubbed MajorMinor, which will serve locally roasted coffees, baked goods, snacks, Maine craft beers and wines by-the-glass. 

The hotel's name, of course, is a nod to the UMaine mascot, the black bear. The website explains that the identity is "inspired by the Ursa Major and Minor constellations and the North Star that connects them."

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF