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Sunday, July 31, 2016

You Won't Believe What These Hotels Used to Be

The original post about hotels that used to be chocolate factories, shoe factories, etc. 
is here.

When is a hotel not just a hotel? When it is re-purposed from a building that used to
to be something completely different. Turning old, oft-abandoned buildings into hotels 
helps developers feed the increasing demand for idiosyncratic travel experiences. 
Meanwhile, many of these rehabs end up playing a major role in the revitalization of 
down-and-out city centers. You’ll never guess what these five hip hotels used to be:

The Charmant Hotel, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Life is like a box of chocolates at the Charmant Hotel. The 67-room luxury boutique hotel 
has been crafted out of the Joseph B. Funke Chocolate Company, which was in business 
from 1898 to 1933. Charmant was the premium line of chocolates produced by the 
Funke-y bunch. Aside from its name, The Charmant preserves and re-imagines 
architectural details of the original structure, including its wood beams, pulleys, exposed 
brick and maple floors. If you breathe in deeply, you might even whiff the aroma of 
molasses seeping out of those old floors. The rooms are highlighted, of course, in 
chocolate-brown. Remember to make friends at the front desk. The staff there might well
indulge your sweet tooth by doling out handcrafted chocolates.

Brewhouse Inn and Suites, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
A bed in a brewery? That’s what’s on tap at the Brewhouse Inn and Suites. Transformed 
from an abandoned Pabst Brewery  (the largest brewer in the world during the first half of 
the 20th century), the building reflects Milwaukee’s brewing heritage in a heady way. 
Copper brew kettles from the original factory are lined up on the mezzanine, overseen 
by King Gambrinus, the patron saint of beer and brewing. His stained-glass likeness was 
commissioned by Frederick Pabst himself. Speaking of glass, the Brewhouse’s front desk is crafted from 1,550 beer bottles from Milwaukee-based breweries. Reclaimed wood from the factory is used throughout the property, from the headboards 
in the rooms to the tabletops at Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub.

Refinery Hotel, New York, New York
Hat’s off to Manhattan’s Refinery Hotel (circa 2013), which originally was a high-end 
millinery factory (circa 1912). Located in New York City’s Garment District (naturally), 
Refinery Hotel’s design draws on the building’s past with a custom installation of
hat-making tools in the lobby. Each guestroom has a slightly raw aesthetic inspired 
by the original factory, such as concrete ceilings, distressed hardwood floors, custom area 
rugs, and sewing machines-inspired desks. The hotel’s event space is called, what else,
The Hatbox. 

Craddock Terry Hotel, Lynchburg, Virginia

There’s no business like shoe business at the Craddock Terry Hotel. The Craddock Terry 
Shoe Company was founded in the late 19th century in Lynchburg, Virginia. At one time, 
it was the fifth-largest shoe company in the world. At its peak, one factory, which opened 
in 1905, produced more than 2,500 pairs of women’s shoes per day. That building is what 
was re-imagined into a hotel by Hal Craddock, the great-grandson of the shoe company 
founder. In 2007, the Craddock Terry Hotel opened, retaining its original industrial feel, 
with exposed wood beam ceilings and nine-foot tall windows. What gives the place even 
more ‘sole’ are that hints of its shoe-making past are everywhere. Whimsical touches
include in-room breakfast served in old-fashioned wooden shoe shine boxes and 
art installations clogged with 100 years of shoes.

Kendall Hotel, Cambridge, Massachusetts
What was once a firehouse is now a fine accommodation. The Kendall Hotel is housed in 
Engine 7 Firehouse, a Victorian-style structure built in 1895. The firehouse closed in 1993 
and re-opened as a hotel in 2002. The building, the oldest in Kendall Square, has been 
restored in a manner befitting its heroic past. Its restaurant, the Black Sheep, is named 
after Engine 7’s self-described Fire Department misfits. Both it and the lobby are filled 
with firehouse memorabilia and Victoriana. Eleven of the guest rooms are located in what 
was once the firemen’s dormitory. But don’t worry. If you stay in one of them, you won’t 
have to exit via a pole.

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