WATERVILLE — The excitement was palpable this week as Jordan Rowan, general manager of the $26 million Lockwood Hotel, led a tour of the premises ahead of Monday’s opening to overnight guests.

Workers tossed sheets, billowing in the air, and tucked them into new queen- and king-sized beds, spread soft white coverlets atop them and placed pillows carefully at headboards.

Rowan, strolling down a spacious, carpeted corridor on the fourth floor, gestured to the right.

“Room 401 is one of my favorites,” he said, turning in.

A large guest room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked Silver Street Tavern’s outdoor dining patio to the west. Another wall of glass offered a view of Main Street’s historic buildings to the north and the new Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at the corner of Appleton Street.

The airy room is one of 53 in the Lockwood, built by Colby College and managed by Charlestowne Hotels. It was planned to open two years ago, but it was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the rooms and suites were temporarily retrofitted for Colby student housing — and remained that way for four semesters.

Main Street in downtown Waterville seen from the Lockwood Hotel, which is scheduled to open to guests Monday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

This past spring after the students left, the new guest room furniture, carpeting and window treatments that had been placed in storage were resurrected and installed in the rooms of the boutique hotel, which in hospitality industry terms typically means one with fewer than 100 rooms.

“Boutique tends to refer to an independent property where you’re not getting that cookie-cutter branded approach, which makes us more able to accommodate our guests’ needs,” Rowan said.

He continued: “The bones — the structure itself — is a little on the modern side, a little contemporary, which was intended. I personally, as a traveler, love city hotels. I always seek out certain amenities. I want walkability with a hotel. I want to feel enmeshed in the community that I’m visiting. I like a little bit of the finer things. I think we deliver that.”

The downtown’s only hotel, and the first there in more than a century, the Lockwood certainly offers more than a place to rest one’s head. As Rowan explains, the artwork on the walls are by Maine artists, the food in the hotel’s restaurant, Front & Main, is from local farms, and the seafood is from the Maine coast. New England native Jesse Souza is executive chef at the restaurant, which also features a 14-seat, private dining room, floor-to-ceiling glass and outdoor dining. Waterville native John Phillips-Sandy is director of food and beverages. Portland, Camden, Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park and Sugarloaf ski mountain are within an hour or two away from the hotel.

“We’re trying to really infuse elements of Maine into every corner of this property,” Rowan said.

The intent from the outset was to be welcoming and accessible to everyone. The restaurant, which opened in March 2021, quickly garnered many regular, returning patrons.

Jordan Rowan, general manager of the Lockwood Hotel on Main Street in downtown Waterville, walks Monday through the Howard Miller Conference Room. The hotel, which is scheduled to open next week, was built on the former site of Levine’s clothing store, which was a longtime downtown fixture. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I think we struck that balance of, we can be fun and approachable, while still being a little elegant, a little fancy,” Rowan said.

As for offering guests a taste of history and a sense of place, the Lockwood was built on the site of the former Levine’s clothing store, which was a destination spot for not only area residents but also lots of Colby students and their families. A park to the south of the hotel was recently named Levine’s Park. A ceremony was held and plaque erected to memorialize the Levine family, and a stone marked by the year 1910 and bearing the name of store founder William Levine that had been removed from the store now serves as a bench in the park.

Overlooking the park is the hotel’s Howard Miller conference room, named for the nephew of Levine’s sons, Pacy and Ludy, who took over the store from their father and were champions of all things Colby, even including a Colby room in the store, which was managed by Miller. Photos of him and the Levines are displayed in the conference room, which also features a large, black metal sign reading Levine’s on the east wall.

Rowan, 32, who moved his family to Winslow from New Jersey to manage the hotel, says he feels as if he knew the Levines, having spent so much time with the family and hearing the stories.

“It’s important to preserve the history of Waterville,” he said. “We want to move forward, but you can’t do that unless you have an eye toward the history.”

The rooms at the pet-friendly hotel, which employs 70 people, start at $194 a night and include valet and bell service. The hotel is available to host smaller-type weddings, receptions and other celebrations, and is developing guest amenities that may include special packages for fishing, hiking, museum tours and the like.

The hotel is opening during a downtown revitalization effort by the city, Colby, business leaders and arts advocates that includes nearly $200 million in investments by Colby and others. Developments include the $25.5 million Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, which houses about 200 Colby staff and students; renovation of the former Waterville Savings Bank across Main Street from the Commons that has offices and retail; the Greene Block + Studios across Main from the hotel; and the $18 million Paul J. Schupf Art Center being built just north of the hotel that will include an art gallery affiliated with the Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville Opera House offices and three new cinemas on the top floor.

The traffic pattern on Main and Front streets is being changed from one- to two-way as part of a project that is expected to be completed later this year.

“Lockwood Hotel is central to ensuring Waterville is a vibrant and dynamic city where people want to live, work and visit,” Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president of planning, said in a news release. “The hotel and its great restaurant, Front & Main, serve both as a gathering place for the community and as a destination that brings visitors into the heart of downtown.”

Charlestowne Hotels focuses on independent hotel management at more than 50 hotels across the country. It also has a growing food and beverage division, with more than four dozen beverage outlets and restaurants, including Front & Main.

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