Nearly 140 years ago, the citizens of Galena, Illinois erected a new county jail. It cost approximately $16,000 and as all jails go…was constructed to retain even the wiliest of characters.
Today the jail still stands. A fortress on the north end of downtown Galena. An imposing Empire-style building constructed of limestone and brick. The walls are 24- inches thick. Inside are heavy iron beams and concrete floors.
And on a cold December night, it housed Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails. Who had no intention of breaking out. Ever.
Neither did his family who joined him on the second floor.
You see the jail retired from the jailing business in 1977. It sat empty for two decades when a young visionary saw the potential of this magnificent old girl.
This man of foresight, Matthew Carroll, had the skills and the heart to turn this brick beauty into a luxury inn that will leave you… NOT wanting to leave.
Matthew purchased the building in 2015 and threw himself into remodeling, refurbishing, and renovating the building into a six suite boutique hotel. His family joined him.
Last year, Terry and I renewed our wedding vows in Galena on December 10th (fittingly during a snow storm) and Matthew presented the winning couple (us) with an “anniversary” stay the following year.
So we had no idea of what awaited us. But from the moment you pull up to the Jail Hill Inn, you know something special awaits inside. The building glowed like a jewelry box perched on a hill. The original heavy wooden doors were adorned with festive holiday wreaths.
Inside it was a magical world of that brought the carefully preserved past seamlessly together with the present.
You can see the original beams in the sitting room and dining area of the inn. There are also nine-foot tall windows that allow for an amazing amount of light. A fireplace burned brightly in the sitting area circled by comfy chairs and small tables.
Our room was on the second floor. This is originally where the sheriff and his family lived. The 800-square-foot suite was incredible with a fireplace, 14-foot ceiling, luxury bathroom, and king-sized bed. There are preserved portions of the jail in every room.
Eden was soaking wet most of the time. The Kohler bathroom had a tub featuring 140 plus jets and the walk-in shower held three shower heads that could be turned on all at once. As I said, the kid was never dry, but she was a happy camper.
All the suites feature unique themes, many with fireplaces. All of them painstakingly decorated by Matthew to reflect comfort, luxury, and style.
Galena is a special anytime and there are plenty of cool and unique places to visit. But the Jail Hill Inn is undoubtedly one of the best.
Each morning Matthew prepares a three course breakfast that left us loaded with to-go boxes because the dishes were amazing and we weren't missing any of it!
In the afternoon there were home-made cookies. In the evening Matthew set out wine, cheese, crackers, specialty hors d oeuvres, and fruit.
Matthew’s attention to detail is something you will rarely see. So it’s not surprising The Jail Hill Inn is on the Select Registry of hotels. His attention to detail also earned him the prestigious Adaptive Use Award in 2016. Presented by the historic preservation group, Landmarks Illinois, this award honors outstanding examples of excellence in historic preservation.
After two nights at the Inn, we were definitely not ready to leave. But reality awaits and we checked out. Sadly. Mournfully. After all that decadent luxury. We are now prisoners to the incredible pampering of the Jail Hill Inn.
It's worth going to jail.
Thank you Matthew!
PSS. Tswails.com is always committed to excellence and when we find something we feel is above and beyond, we want to pass it along to our readers. This is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Click on the above link and it will take you to Matthew's site.