February 8, 2013

Newspaper theme could be part of new Portland hotel

Plans call for converting the former Portland Press Herald building into a boutique hotel and restaurant.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – A boutique hotel planned for the former Portland Press Herald building may be allowed to leave some of the historic signs on the building in place.

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The old Portland Press Herald building at 390 Congress St. in Portland on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. A boutique hotel planned for the former Portland Press Herald building may end up having a newspaper theme.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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The sign on the old Portland Press Herald building at 390 Congress St. in Portland on Thursday, February 7, 2013.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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Lisa DeSisto, publisher of the Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, said Thursday the company is willing to sit down with the developers to discuss how the paper's brand might be incorporated into the hotel.

"Should the development go through, we are delighted to work with them to figure out how to preserve the heritage of our brand as part of the development," DeSisto said.

The building at Congress and Exchange streets housed the newspaper until 2010, when the company relocated to One City Center. Developers plan to convert the building into a 110-room hotel and 80-seat restaurant.

The building is located within the Congress Street Historic District. It consists of two distinct sections -- the original block built in 1923 facing Federal Street and an addition built in 1948 on Congress Street across from City Hall.

Historic Preservation Board members said during a meeting Wednesday that they would like the signs to remain on the building. But Kevin Bunker, the Portland-based developer, told the board he had been informed by MaineToday Media that the signs might have to be removed.

DeSisto said Thursday the company did send a letter to Bunker reminding him who owned the brand and of the need to involve the media company in any decisions to incorporate it into the project.

"A lot of boutique hotels these days have themes, so to incorporate the history of the newspaper in a meaningful way I think could be very interesting," she said.

Bunker said the newspapers' names will be removed from the Congress Street face of the building, but the green awning will remain. He would like to keep "the dignified brass letters" on the Exchange Street face of the building.

Bunker said the hotel will have certain "thematic elements," including a nod to the newspapers' history. But it will also highlight the building's history as the site of the first TV and radio stations in the state, he said.

Local art also will be used, he said. "It's going to be real Maine art by real Maine artists."


Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:


Twitter: @randybillings


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