Holmes Hall was built is an agricultural experiment station in 1888. Credit: Courtesy of the Society of Architectural Historians / via the University of Maine

Two of UMaine’s oldest buildings at its Orono campus may soon be transformed into a single boutique hotel if the university system’s trustees approve the multi-million dollar project.

With a price tag of $17 million, the renovation would retrofit the vacant Coburn and Holmes Halls — which stand yards apart — into a campus hotel with 87 rooms. MaineBiz first reported the proposed project.

A renovation of the historic halls, which both date back to 1888, would be a first for the university.

“This is the first time UMaine has entered into the hospitality industry, more specifically hotel lodging,” Margaret Nagle, a school spokesperson, told the outlet.

A University of Maine System board of trustees committee will consider the proposal on July 12, with a final decision coming later in the month.

If the project is accepted, the system could be responsible for up to $2 million of the projected $17.2 million construction, which could begin as early as September and be completed by the summer of 2023. Radnor Property Group LLC would lead the project.

Holmes Hall was built as an agricultural experiment station, while Coburn Hall originally contained a natural history museum, library, classrooms and administrative offices. Both were designed with a Romanesque Revival structure by architect Frank E. Kidder, who was known for his 1885 publication of “The Architects’ and Builders’ Pocket-book.”

Upkeep of the buildings has been expensive in recent years, Nagle told Mainebiz. It takes about $100,000 a year to heat the combined 33,000 square feet, and maintenance costs that have been put off now total between $10 million and $12 million.

The buildings are currently unsuitable for occupancy due to safety and accessibility code issues.

Matt Berg

Matt is a senior at UMass Amherst, studying journalism and history. Before joining the Bangor Daily News, he was the managing editor of his student newspaper and interned at the Boston Globe.