Meeting planners who think ‘historic’ is synonymous with inflexible and stodgy need to think again.
Offering everything from a hotel where a jail once stood to venues that showcase surprising history—with several spots in between—historic places throughout the East actually offer exciting attractions and unique event spaces.
LIBERTY HOTEL, BOSTON
Normally a jail doesn’t scream ‘hospitality,’ but that changed in 2007 when the former Charles Street Jail became the Liberty Hotel, a 298-room property. Built in 1951 and designated a national historic landmark, the building is at the foot of Beacon Hill.
The hotel offers five food and beverage outlets and 6,000 square feet of meeting space. Upon arrival, guests enter the hotel’s central rotunda, which offers a view of the “catwalk” floors. The jail housed notorious inmates, including Malcolm X and Frank Abagnale Jr. A gallery tells more about the history.
Its restaurants and bars give a nod to the property’s past with names like Clink and Alibi. The former has vestiges of original jails cells while the latter sits where the jail’s cells once stood. Decor includes amusing celebrity mug shots on the walls.
MORAVIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, NAZARETH, PA
Head to downtown Nazareth to experience a distinctive colonial-era community. At the Moravian Historical Society, meeting attendees can explore contributions of the Moravians—the oldest protestant group in the world, dating back to 1415—in the Society’s Whitefield House, one of the oldest Moravian structures in North America; it was built in the 1740s.
The building houses the earliest known violin made in the American colonies and the 1776 Tannenberg organ. It also features a collection of paintings by John Valentine Haidt, one of the first American artists to portray chiefly religious topics.
During events at the facility groups will enjoy the Saal, a German word for hall. The Saal seats 50 guests on padded benches. The Society also allows rental of the exterior space, which has hosted as many as 2,000 guests. The spot is shaded by a dozen 75- to 100-year-old trees.
The Society offers groups team-building exercises, such as scavenger hunts and behind-the-scenes access to the 155-year-old collection.
“The museum collection has a bit of everything, from a lock of George Washington’s hair to a dinosaur bone,” says Megan van Ravenswaay, site director of Whitefield House.
“We pride ourselves on customizing tours for groups, so bringing groups into rooms the public isn’t typically allowed to go into or bringing special items out of storage are among the things we do.”