When was the last time you referred to a jailhouse as enviable living?
In the case of the 50 St Peter Street Historic Salem Jail development in Massachusetts by Boston-based FA+A (Finegold Alexander + Associates) Architects, it shall be so.
Gone are the razor-barbed wire over formidable fences around the development, but present is an inherent sustainability. This noteworthy project has been justly rewarded for its rehabilitation and preservation. The original jail was built in 1813, with an addition placed some 70 years later. The jail was rendered unfit for its purpose in 1991, whereupon it lay stagnant for some two decades. It had, at its closing, been on record as the oldest in continuous use in the US.
Today, the development stands as 17 condominiums, each with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a restaurant. The jailkeeper’s house was reformulated into three residences. A new building houses eight duplex units, again with two beds and baths.
Another key note is the site planning and architectural design. Red bricks and narrow buildings grant the residences a distinctive New England charm, as do two copper-adored towers and several tall chimneys adorning the composition and the various natural stone and black iron interiors. A courtyard encourages community socialising and presents view corridors, as is indicative of today’s appreciation for retrospective planning styles.
Inside the buildings are graceful spiral staircases in wood. Note the mature landscaping throughout the site, another sign of sustainability. The project feels not unlike an urban college campus quad. Yet its unique origins were given respect down to reusing the sliding jail doors.
Giving sustainability even deeper meaning, the site today contains an exhibit space devoted to the history of the jail.
Check out www.faainc.com/