It’s a national historic landmark designed by prison reformer Rev. Louis Dwight. Want to know more? The historic jail was built between 1848-1851. it’s history a guest is interested in, The Liberty Hotel offers tours.
When did the Charles Street Jail close?
In 1973, the US District Court ruled that, because of overcrowding, the jail violated the constitutional rights of the prisoners housed there. Nonetheless, the prison did not officially close until 1990.
On Memorial Day of that year, prisoners were moved to the new Nashua Street Jail on Nashua Street.

In 1973, after 120 years of housing some of Boston’s most notorious criminals, prisoners revolted because of poor living conditions and the jail was declared unfit and in violation of the inmates’ constitutional rights.

On Memorial Day weekend 1990, the last prisoners were moved to the new Suffolk County Jail.


The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts

To the Norwegians who are proud of their country’s plush, first-world prisons, we raise Boston’s Liberty Hotel, a luxury property formerly known as the Charles Street Jail, whose onetime inmates include Malcolm X and disgraced Boston mayor James Curley.
The Liberty Hotel’s restaurants and bars sport cheeky names like Clink (where you can dine inside “vestiges of original jail cells”) and Alibi (a cocktail bar in what used to be the jail’s drunk tank). The Liberty Hotel is no tacky themed establishment living on its past fame. Sure, it has a past, but the past is not “who we are now,” according to Sean Reardon, director of sales and marketing.


In 1991, Massachusetts General Hospital acquired the obsolete property and sought proposals for its reuse, requiring that significant elements of the building be preserved.

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.

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.

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.

Drawn to the building’s dramatic spatial qualities, the team tapped Bryant’s original architectural drawings to ensure adherence to his creative vision for the cruciform-shaped building.

Owing much of its character to the powerful Romanesque and Renaissance forms used in its design, the building consists of an octagonal central building featuring four circular wood “ocular” windows and four radiating wings, each with large three-story arched windows highlighted by articulated wedge-shaped, stone “voussoirs” characteristic of French design. At the time, the windows were thought to yield light “four times as great as that in any prison yet constructed.”


Apart from this addition, 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 windows and historic catwalks.

The preserved jail cells within the hotel 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 is destined to take its place among the beloved “hidden gardens” of the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

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. 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.

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.

Please see the Concierge to arrange a historical tour of The Liberty during your stay with us.

Boston to Martha’s Vineyard Day Trip with Optional Island Tour


Boston: North End to the Freedom Trail – Food & History Tour (Small Group)


Spirit of Boston Sunset Dinner Cruise with Buffet


Boston Whale Watching Cruise by High-Speed Catamaran


North End Boston Secret Food Tour.


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