Urban Home concept to expand along Old Port’s Middle Street

It plans to expand on an “urban inn” that opened in 2019 in Portland’s Old Port.

The Inn concept has been rebranded as “City Houses” and now consists of four buildings along Middle Street. The short- and long-term residence units in the buildings were called the Docent’s Collection.

121 Mittelstr.

The original “urban inn” was called 121 Middle and was a joint venture between Portland real estate company East Brown Cow Management and Kentucky-based hotel operator Commonwealth Hotels.

Located at 121 Middle St., the inn has 17 rooms on the second and third floors of the historic Thompson Block. Floor plans include two-bedroom, one-bedroom, and studio units, and each unit has a kitchen and living area.


121 Middle St. in Old Portland Harbor was built for commercial use in 1867 and was the first in a local developer’s “Urban Home” collection.

The idea was to combine virtual versions of check-in and other features common to short-term rental properties with traditional hotel amenities.

The Thompson Block, a four-story brick building with a mansard roof, was built for commercial use in 1867 after the Great Fire of Portland and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The inn was the building’s first use as a residence.

115 Mittelstr.

This week East Brown Cow and Commonwealth Hotels announced they have rebranded 121 Middle as The Docent’s Collection.

They said they now call the units “city houses.” Two more of the units were recently completed at 115 Middle St., which is adjacent to 121 Middle St.

115 Middle St. is an early 20th-century building known as the Abraham Robinson Block. The units there will be the first three-bedroom units in the collection.

According to a press release, the expansion reflects the success of 121 Middle St. The new units — which also include full kitchens, large dining and living areas, and furniture — will continue the combination of mobile-first service, amenities associated with luxury rentals, and hotel service.

middle street 178 and 184

Plans are underway to expand the collection a few blocks down to neighboring 178 Middle St. and 184 Middle St.

East Brown Cow paid $11.7 million for the two buildings plus a third neighboring building in January 2021.

Built in the 19th century, 178 Middle St. is known as the Boyd Block and 184 Middle St. as the William Widgery Thomas Block.


On the left is 178 Middle St., with the smaller 184 Middle St. next to it.

The top floors of the two buildings will be converted into 19 one- and two-bedroom urban home units, expected to open in winter 2023.

The expansion of the collection “represents a conscious investment in preserving historic buildings and creating meaningful connections within Portland’s fast-changing downtown,” said Tim Soley, President and CEO of East Brown Cow.

The units feature interior design by Portland-based Ealain Studio and pieces from Maine manufacturers such as Auburn furniture maker Thos. Moser, Portland landscape architect Anthony Muench and Lewiston artist Tanja Hollander.

Commonwealth Hotels offers hospitality management services. Customers can customize their engagement with management, said Avery Windham, a marketing manager.

The rebranding was accompanied by a new logo and a new website that includes a searchable direct booking engine.

The term “lecturer” was chosen based on museums and art.

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