The Liberty Hotel

Boston, Massachusetts
Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc.

A former prison is converted into a luxury four-star hotel.

In 1990, Boston’s Charles Street Jail was abandoned after it was declared unfit for prisoners. Neighboring Massachusetts General Hospital purchased the deteriorating jailhouse and selected developer Carpenter and Company and architect Cambridge Seven Associates to transform the former prison into a luxury hotel.

The Liberty Hotel
Photo © Kwesi Arthur

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Gary Johnson
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Gary Johnson

Gridley James Fox Bryant designed the original 1851 granite jailhouse, considered a model of advanced prison architecture in the 19th century. The cruciform plan, centered around a 90-foot tall central rotunda, enabled security guards to easily monitor inmates housed in the four jail cell wings. Three-story 34-foot high arched barred windows provided daylight for the wings, while additional light was admitted to the rotunda from a cupola and four circular windows. 

The rotunda now houses the hotel lobby, restaurant, lounge, and conference areas, while the prison cells have been converted into 18 guest rooms. Cambridge Seven added a new 16-story guest room tower with 298 guest rooms, cladding it in glass and iron spot brick to contrast with the heavy granite jail. In the 239,000 square-foot expansion the architects also incorporated vestiges of the prison—such as exposed brick walls and iron cell doors­­—into the design, resurfaced the roof in slate, and replicated sash from the original arched windows.

Formal name of project: The Liberty Hotel

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Gross square footage: 250,000 sq.ft.

Total construction cost: $80,000,000

Completion Date: September 2007

Carpenter & Company, Inc.

Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc.
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
T: 617.492.7000
F: 617.492-7007

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