The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Boston

215 Charles Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114 USA
+1 617-224-4000

Liberty Hotel History


Completed in 1851, the Charles Street Jail 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 Yale-educated penologist whose travels shaped his interest in and advocacy for prison reform.

Thought to be one of the best examples of the “Boston Granite Style” of the mid-19th century, the building “resonated with a strength and dignity appropriate for the era and for Bostonians’ sensibilities,” said historians.

Building Timeline


Did you know?
Once home to some of Boston’s legendary inmates, now the building is home to a more enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Within the main building, there are 18 guest rooms, as well as meeting rooms, a grand ballroom and a restaurant and bar.  Across “The Yard” and adjacent to a historical gallery of images and tales from the previous 150 years, a 16-story tower houses 280 guest rooms, many with expansive views of Boston.
Interior Design
Renovated in 2007, the interior design reflects a passionate commitment to authenticity while a more playful attitude defines its day-to-day style. The jail cells present in the aptly-named restaurant, CLINK, are now cozy nooks for dining and do not disturb signs are wisely worded “solitary.”
Preservation
In 1991, Massachusetts General Hospital acquired the obsolete property and sought proposals for its reuse, requiring that significant elements of the building be preserved.
Purchase
In 2001, Carpenter & Company was designated the developer of the project and entered into a lease agreement with MGH for the land and the jail itself.
Cupola
Bryant had initially drafted a dramatic cupola, designed to bring further light and air into the rotunda. Unfortunately, it was a focal point that, at the time of the building’s construction, was reduced in size to save money. In 1949, it was removed altogether. In one of many restoration decisions, the cupola was painstakingly rebuilt based on Bryant’s original design.
Historic Landmark
The transformation of the site into a hotel is the work of a team of designers and architects collaborating with historians and conservationists from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Boston Landmarks Commission, the National Park Service and the Boston Redevelopment Authority to ensure that the end result is a careful balance between preservation and dynamic new use. This National Historic Landmark building is one of the country’s most stunning and inspired “reuse” developments and sits at the foot of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood overlooking the Charles River and the city skyline.
Cuppola Shot

National Historic Landmark

The jail’s granite exterior and expansive, light-filled interiors remain largely unchanged. Soaring 90 feet, the jail’s central atrium was beautifully preserved and forms the core of the hotel. It features the building’s trademark "oculus" windows and historic catwalks.

Historic Preservation

The preserved jail cell facades within CLINK., The Liberty Hotel's signature restaurant, and wrought-iron work on the windows are just two examples of preservation. The jail’s former exercise yard is now a private, beautifully landscaped courtyard that takes its among the beloved “hidden gardens” of the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Contemporary Interior

The interior design team was tasked with infusing the hotel with a distinctive personality that honors the building’s rich history while imparting contemporary vibrancy.

Attention to Detail

To that end, in a modern counterpoint to the building’s exterior, the hotel’s stylish reception desk is crafted of ebonized wood with lacquered stenciled patterns reminiscent of 1850’s embroidery work; carpets recall the old-fashioned crewel work of New England, enlarged and contemporized; and American colonial prints in historic colors such as maroon, grey and purple, creating an updated take on a traditional look.

Striking Historical Charm

Finally, exposed brick walls and a striking wrought iron chandelier add visual interest to the lobby while underscoring a commitment to historic and understated materials.

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