Learn More About Our Rich History
Located two blocks from Portland’s working waterfront, the Portland Regency Hotel and Spa is the centerpiece of the historic Old Port Exchange.
This neo-classic Armory was built in 1895 at a cost of $20,000.00 for Maine’s National Guard. It was once regarded as one of the finest and best equipped armories in New England.
At the time of construction local civic leaders were concerned over the brewing trouble in Cuba and wished to ensure that the militia be adequately trained. Mayor Baxter proclaimed, “The possession of quarters in a prominent place, where the men would always be under the public eye, would be the means of improving the morale of the force.
In addition to its use as an armory, the building’s large drill hall was also frequently used as a civic auditorium: At the turn of the century the annual concerts of the Maine Music Festival were held in the building.
The State of Maine Armory, as it claimed to be known, was vacated by the Maine National Guard in 1941 when its troops came under the control of the Federal Government. For a brief time a caretaker was the lone occupant of the building, until city officials decided to open the armory to house the many soldiers, sailors, and marines who were temporarily stranded in Portland. During one two month period over 4,000 men took advantages of the facility for overnight stays.
In 1942 the United States Navy took control of the armory and used it as a recreation center for the duration of World War II. At the close of the war the building once again served multiple purposes as a home to the National Guard’s citizen soldiers, a civic auditorium, and as the city’s public bath house.
By this time the once outstanding facility was now eclipsed by more modern structures in South Portland and Augusta. In fact, the armory was nearly razed in 1962 when it was abandoned as surplus property by the National Guard and taken over by the city of Portland. Many, including the Chamber of Commerce and the City Manager, wanted to demolish the site and use the site for waterfront parking.
This “improvement plan”, was opposed by the many veterans who trained here as well as the city councilmen who thought the plan was too expensive. Following a year filled with controversy the State of Maine Armory was sold for $28,000.00 to State Paper Company. The building, which had served both Maine and this country for over sixty years, was used as a warehouse until 1984 when it was purchased for its conversion into a hotel. The Portland Regency Hotel opened with 95 rooms in 1987, a complement to Portland’s popular, restored Old Port.
The exterior of the armory was preserved intact, with the exception of the skylight windows on the upper floors. Many of the original architectural elements create unique features in some of the spacious, traditionally appointed rooms. Highly detailed fireplaces, turreted corners, and windows of many shapes and sizes bring a special ambiance that we hope you will enjoy.
In 1990 as recognition for it’s preservation of a historically significant building and its superior service, the Portland Regency was invited by the National Trust of Historic Preservation to become a distinguished member of the Historic Hotels of America.
The Portland Regency shared a proud moment as the Black Point Inn on Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine when they joined us as our Historic Hotels of America sister property in 1998.
In August of 2003 the Portland Regency Hotel was proud to become the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa; the Regency is the only hotel in downtown Portland to have its own fitness center and full day spa. For the enjoyment of hotel guests and the Health Spa members we offer an array of new and wonderful spa treatments and services with everything from mud wraps and massages. Our guests are also invited to use our Jacuzzi, steam rooms, and saunas. After exploring local culture and the local waterfront area, slip away to our spa where the warm scents of lavender and rosemary will carry you away to a higher level of consciousness. Let our licensed professionals treat you to a more relaxing stay.