Thursday, November 08, 2007

Jurys and Liberty Hotels in Boston

The elegant iron-railing balconies were once catwalks where guards stood watch over the inmates to make sure they didn't try to break out. If you look closely, you can still see the outline of the holes from the iron bars on the windows.
At the newly opened Liberty Hotel, it's hard to escape what this building once was: a decrepit jail where Boston locked up its most notorious prisoners.
But that's just the point.

After a five-year, $150 million renovation, the old Charles Street jail is now a luxury hotel for guests who can afford to pay anywhere from $319 a night for the lowest-priced room to $5,500 for the presidential suite. The hotel, at the foot of Boston's stately Beacon Hill neighborhood, opened in September.

Architects took pains to preserve many features of the 156-year-old stone building and its history.

The old sally port, where guards once brought prisoners from paddy wagons to their cells, is being converted into the entrance to a new restaurant, Scampo, which is Italian for "escape."

In another restaurant, named Clink, diners can look through original bars from cell doors and windows as they order smoked lobster bisque or citrus poached prawns from waiters and waitresses wearing shirts with prison numbers. The hotel bar, Alibi, is built in the jail's former drunk tank.

The old clientele included Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, who served time for fraud in 1904 after he took a civil service exam for a friend; Frank Abagnale Jr., a 1960s con artist played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie "Catch Me If You Can;" a group of thieves who pulled off the Great Brinks Robbery in Boston in 1950; and a German U-boat captain who was captured in 1945 and killed himself with shards from his sunglasses.

Visit their website at Liberty Hotel

Boston also has a luxury hotel called Jurys in the former Boston police headquarters building in fashionable Back Bay. The hotel bar is called Cuffs.

The transformation of the Charles Street Jail is stunning to some of those who spent time in the notorious lockup.

"It's a magnificent place," said Bill Baird, an activist locked up for 37 days in 1967 for breaking a Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people. His arrest led to a landmark 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing birth control for unmarried people.

"How you could take something that was so horrible and turn it into something of tremendous beauty, I don't know," said Baird, who visited the new hotel in October, on the 40th anniversary of his conviction.

Visit their website at Jurys Hotel
Read the full story at Yahoo News

No comments: