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Hotel Ursa opening at UMaine in the spring

An independent hotel named Hotel Ursa will open at the University of Maine this spring. 

As the newest addition to the university, this upcoming hotel was refurbished from what were originally Coburn and Holmes Halls, the two oldest buildings on the UMaine campus. Another building has also been erected to accompany them. Named after the North Star and the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations, the hotel has been designed to feature a warm and inviting atmosphere that aims to reflect the Black Bear spirit. 

A cafe and bar will also be opened to accompany the hotel. Aptly named the Majorminor, this facility will be open to guests, campus visitors and faculty members alike. It will be equipped to offer locally roasted coffee, baked goods, snacks, Maine craft beer and wine by the glass. Proof of ID is required for access to the bar. 

Those who are familiar with the UMaine campus may wonder where hotel guests will be permitted to park. A parking lot will be designated specifically for hotel parking next to Coburn Hall and between Fogler Library and Holmes Hall.

“In our pursuit of greatness and advancement, we draw inspiration from the guiding light of the North Star. Symbolizing moral and intrepid direction, it shines as the crown jewel of the Ursa Major and Ursa constellations, meaning ‘Great Bear and Lesser Bear,’” states the Hotel Ursa website on the origins of its branding. 

Each building incorporated into the hotel has its own theme to meet each guest’s individual tastes. Holmes Hall will serve as the historic centerpiece, and the new building will provide more contemporary guest rooms. Coburn Hall will offer unique rooms and suites. 

“Our unique location on the UMaine campus allows the convenience of seeing the best of the campus and beyond, such as attending a meeting at Wells Conference Center, catching a show at Collins Center for the Arts or simply wandering the university halls. Guests at Hotel Ursa can also enjoy access to the state-of-the-art New Balance Recreation Center or explore the DeMeritt Forest Trail System,” stated the Ursa website.

Side-view of Ursa. Photo by Natalie Snyder.

With nearly 41% of all degree-seeking undergraduates attending Maine being from out-of-state, which is a 150% increase since 2009, visiting loved ones can present a challenge. Thanks to the planned hotel, students’ families will be able to have an affordable place to stay right on campus so that they might be closer to their Black Bear loved ones. 

The hotel was a joint venture between real estate development company Radnor Property Group and investment management firm Harrison Street. The construction, which got underway back in Sept. of 2022, was executed by Wright-Ryan Construction and operated by Olympia Hotel Management in Portland. Archetype Architects handled the architectural design aspects. 

Coburn Hall, one of the refurbished buildings, has been in disuse for more than 10 years up until now. Built between 1887 and 1888 and named after Abner Coburn, the chairman of the Board of Trustees and Governor of Maine in the 1860s, it housed the Department of Agriculture and Natural History. It was also the original library as well as the natural history museum. Being 135 years old, it eventually fell into disrepair due to its age. However, since being refurbished, it has been awarded an award from Maine Preservation, a statewide nonprofit that promotes historic preservation in Maine.

Holmes Hall, the other refurbished building, was built with funds from the Hatch Act of 1887. Originally called “Experiment Station” by Frank Kidder, the architect who designed it, it was renamed Holmes Hall at its dedication. Its original use was to house the chemistry department. Since the department relocated to Aubert Hall in 1914, the building has had many uses but sat partially vacant until recently. 

Hotel Ursa will begin accepting guests upon its opening in the spring. Rooms can be booked on its website

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