Lark Hotels has opened the former Danforth Inn as the Blind Tiger, a nine-room gathering house on Danforth Street in Portland. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — If walls could talk, the property at 163 Danforth St. would have many stories to tell.

Built in 1823 as a private home, over the years the Federal-style building has served as a school, a seminary, a place to get a drink during Prohibition, an inn and, as of last month, as the Blind Tiger, a nine-room gathering house.

The Event Records room is designed as an homage to the local music scene and the late Westbrook bluegrass artist Al Hawkes. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Lark Hotels, a boutique hotel company based in Amesbury, Massachusetts, purchased the property last year for $1.7 million, and the Blind Tiger opened three weeks ago. The property most recently had operated as The Danforth Inn.

Steve Hewins, president and CEO of Hospitality Maine is glad to see the property back in the lodging business again.

“It fills an important niche on the peninsula and downtown,” he said. “I know it’s not a bed and breakfast and more of an inn-style property instead of a hotel, but there is not a lot of those sort of lodging properties in downtown.”

The building has long been a place for people to meet up, and that’s something Lark Hotels wanted to continue.

“Typically with an inn or bed and breakfast, you can’t walk in unless you are staying there. All are welcome here,” said Lark CEO Peter Twachtman said.

The former “blind tiger” space in the basement is now set aside for billiards and socializing. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

The public will be able to rent the front living room, sun room or dining room for events, such as weddings or meetings. The commercial kitchen can be made available for pop up dining events or chef tastings.

The company was careful to maintain what gives the building its charm while updating it, Twachtman said.

“What we did was try to extenuate what was here and allow its wonderful elegance to show,” he said. “We are excited about it. It is truly a Portland landmark.”

The name is a nod to its history. Lark Hotels President Rob Blood said during the prohibition era “a blind tiger was slang for an illegal spot where you could find a stiff cocktail.”

Each of the nine rooms at Blind Tiger has been uniquely decorated and includes a letter from a local resident or business owner that welcomes guests to the city and recommends places for them to check out during their stay.

The public can rent the front living room for weddings and other gatherings. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

“It is intended to have people who know Portland the best tell our guest what makes Portland special,” Twachtman said.

Hewins said the Blind Tiger joins a lodging industry that has seen “incredible growth” over the last decade, with more hotel projects in the pipeline.

“People who develop hotels are pretty good at looking at the numbers and the projection and wouldn’t be developing additional properties if the future didn’t look good in the market,” he said.

Lark Hotels also runs the Pomegranate Inn on Neal Street in Portland, Whitehall Inn in Camden and the Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport, and recently acquired the Captain Lord Mansion, Captain Jeffords Inn and the Maine Stay Inn in Kennebunkport.

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