Last time I was in town I scored a private tour of The Verb Hotel with Elizabeth Lowrey, Principal and Director of Interior Architecture at Elkus Manfredi Architects and stylish lead behind the redesign of this humble-turned-hip Boston boutique hotel, just behind Fenway Park. The architects worked closely with the development team to embrace the area’s legacy .
Initially slated for a tear down—the hotel had become a HoJos after all—Samuels became disillusioned by the shiny new development happening all over the city and decided to re-imagine the 94-room mid-century modern hotel, knowing it would add character to the revitalized neighborhood.
The Verb Hotel first opened in 1959 as the Fenway Motor Hotel in a neighborhood that by the thriving indie music scene. Over the years a multitude of clubs popped up on Lansdowne Street, along with the alternative weekly newspaper the Boston Phoenix and rock radio stations.
Developer Steve Samuels and hotelier Robin Brown enlisted “vibe conservators” Stephen Mindich, publisher of the Boston Phoenix, and David Bieber, WBCN Creative Services Director to consult with Elkus Manfredi on the hotel’s new look and feel, which pays homage to the rock scene of the ’70s and ’80s. Bieber dipped into his enormous personal archives of pop-culture memorabilia which the designers used to decorate the lobby.
The two-story modernist building, designed by architects Irving Salsberg and Ralph Leblanc, went up in 1959. Elkus Manfredi Architects honored the original building, retaining the footprint of the motel and guestrooms. The feel is that of an authentic motor inn, including a courtyard pool and cars pulled up outside the rooms.
The team stuck to a pretty strict budget. Easy upgrades like colored film by Solar Graphics were applied to the new windows to add rhythmic pops of color. In 1959 when the original motel was completed, different colored stained-glass windows formed solid vertical lines on its structure. Eventually, these windows were replaced and the solid vertical stripes of color became irregular. When replacing all the windows for the restoration, Elkus Manfredi deliberately retained the irregular Mondrian-like pattern.
The architects dressed up a front façade with vertical wood siding and simple landscaping.
A circular skylight in the lobby lets in light and provides a glimpse of a new high rise across the street.
The front desk is upholstered in tufted black leather. Amps and electric guitars are propped up beside it. Black and white geometric flooring by Mondo.
The lobby, with its deep blue walls and tufted yellow leather banquette custom-designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects broadcasts that it is indeed a Boston boutique hotel. Authentic vintage music ephemera, curated by David Bieber from his own collection, include backstage passes from the J. Geils Band, and torn $4.50 ticket stubs to a Blondie show at the Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue. Framing done locally by Stanhope Framers. Triangular Island tables by Calligaris. Knoll Risom lounge chairs designed in 1943 by Jens Risom and sheepskin throw both from Design Within Reach.
Music posters and vinyl records along with a vintage jukebox.
Original brickwork was painted black using textured paint by Sherwin Williams.
If the lobby’s not crowded, guests can spin records on the yellow vintage Realistic-brand LAB 440 turntable. They’ve got 150 vintage local and national vinyl albums.
A display case in the breezeway connecting the main lobby with the guest rooms houses The Archives at the Verb, curated from Bieber’s warehouse of thousands of pop-culture memorabilia.
Original brick walls were painted vibrant hues and treated to music-related stenciled sayings. Perforated steel railings custom-fabricated by MIW Co. Ipanema Multi-Bloom Pendant Lamp by Jonathan Adler.
“If the music is too loud, you’re too old.”
Photographs of numbers from Fenway park were pulled together to form the room numbers on hotel room doors.
Illuminated signs on black walls in the hotel lobby.
Guest rooms are clean and crisp with integrated wood veneer headboards. Elkus Manfredi Architects designed the mid-century modern inspired furnishings, which were manufactured by Artco.
Framed Phoenix newspaper pages hang on the walls in each room.
Mid-century dot pattern drapery and a shot of pink from the window film.
Photo by Adrian Wilson
Like many boutique hotels, the contemporary bathrooms are simple but don’t skimp on amenities.
Tile by Dal-Tile.
The desk in each hotel room is equipped with a typewriter purchased on eBay. The desk chair is an armless Setu side chair by Herman Miller.
Best part: the hotel courtyard has a pool. The vibe is motor lodge, but really it’s like a hip resort, right downtown. Check out the green stands at Fenway in the background.
Period-appropriate colors were carefully chosen.
The Verb Hotel, 1271 Boylston Street, Boston
Photos by Marni Elyse Katz/StyleCarrot
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