USA. Historic jail overlooking Charles River reopens as $150 Million Liberty Hotel

Thursday, 06 September 2007

Following an extensive five-year restoration, Boston's Charles Street Jail will become one of the country's most stunning and inspired "reuse" developments, debuting on September 5, 2007 as The Liberty Hotel. The $150-million luxury showplace sits at the foot of Boston's posh Beacon Hill neighborhood overlooking the Charles River.

Completed in 1851, the storied building was a collaboration between architect Gridley James Fox Bryant, widely considered Boston's most accomplished architect of the time, and Rev. Louis Dwight, a prominent penologist whose travels shaped his interest in and advocacy for prison reform.

Though extensively updated, the jail's striking granite exterior and expansive, light-filled interiors remain largely unchanged. Soaring 90 feet, the jail's central rotunda -- with its windows and historic catwalks -- was beautifully preserved and forms the lobby and public spaces. Developer Richard L. Friedman's intent to create a quintessential Boston hotel within the framework of a National Historic Landmark was painstakingly realized, infusing the hotel with a distinctive personality that honors its rich history while imparting contemporary vibrancy.

From design and decor to day-to-day style, the building's penal past is authentically and often playfully captured. References to its history include a specially commissioned mosaic by artist Coral Bourgeois featuring multi- textured tiles depicting historical scenes from penitentiaries and true life crimes; "do not disturb" door hangers wisely worded "Solitary;" and Alibi, the first floor bar that is housed within the jail's former "drunk tank."

Within the historic building, the Liberty offers 18 brick-walled guest rooms, as well as a restaurant and bar and meeting and event rooms. Across the courtyard garden (once the jail's exercise yard), a new 16-story tower houses 280 guest rooms. Accented with rich mahogany and touches of stainless steel, the spacious guest rooms feature luxurious bedding, floor to ceiling windows, flat panel HD-LCD televisions, private bar, and two VOIP telephones. Four-fixture bathrooms feature plush bathrobes and eco-friendly Molton Brown bath and body care products. Concierge service, valet parking, same-day dry cleaning and laundry, evening turn-down and overnight shoe shine are among the hotel's services and amenities. Guests also have access to a well-equipped health and fitness center, open 24/7.

The hotel features three creative, convivial venues for dining: CLINK. bar and restaurant, under the direction of executive chef Michael A. Goodman, is located on the lobby level, serves regional specialties and imaginative cocktails; Alibi, the entry level bar; and, for more sophisticated fare, Scampo, a fine dining venue by acclaimed Boston chef Lydia Shire.

For meetings and events, the hotel's 6,000 square feet of flexible space features up-to-the-minute technology, natural light in virtually every room, high-speed Internet access and embedded audio visual technology. The ballroom can accommodate up to 200 for formal dinners or 350 for receptions while other meeting rooms accommodate groups of ten to 120. A full-service business center and wireless data connections in public areas ensure that off-site business is conducted with speed and consistency.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 06 September 2007 )