History of Loews Boston Hotel
Our historic structure was once the home to the Boston Police Headquarters. Designed by Richie Parsons & Taylor architects, the 73,350 square-foot building is situated in between Boston’s South End and Back Bay neighborhoods and was built from stone, masonry, concrete, and steel and the original building was clad in handsomely-detailed limestone reminiscent of an Italian palazzo. Today, you can still see the words, Boston Police Headquarters engraved in the building, enter the hotel through the original doors and notice the beautiful blue gothic style lanterns that light up the Back Bay sky. Upon entering the lobby, you can’t miss the building dedication plaque in a brass knight frame and the historic frames throughout the lobby. We invite you to peruse through the building as if you are in a museum to learn about the historic figures that made history including Irene McAuliffe who was among the first women appointed to the Department in 1921 and served until 1960.
On the lower level, the walls of Precinct Kitchen + Bar are covered with historic photos of the Boston police. The irony, of course, is that this building opened during Prohibition and was home to the “Liquor Squad.” In those days, the only liquor in the building was classified as evidence.
With an abundance of history, a perfect downtown location, spacious guestrooms, and a New England-inspired restaurant, Precinct Kitchen + Bar, we invite you to experience Boston’s Badge of Hospitality at Loews Boston Hotel.
Through The Years
The 1920s served as a difficult time for the Boston Police Department, with 17 officers killed in the line of duty between the 1920s and 1930s as the Department dealt with a lot of crime due to prohibition. In the 1930s, there were a lot of organized crime shootings, including the 1933 murder of Charles "King" Solomon.
On January 17, 1950, one of the most well-known events of the building took place, the Brinks Robbery, it was the largest heist in history at the time, totaling two and a half million dollars and every unit of the headquarters was involved. Although the thieves were all eventually identified and convicted, most of the money was never recovered.
In the early 60s were the murders attributed to the "Boston Strangler" caused widespread panic. There is still no proof that all attributed victims were murdered by the same man, but in 2013, DNA proved that Albert DeSalvo killed the final and youngest victim.
Our Meeting Rooms
In 2014, the meeting rooms were renamed to pay homage to heroic officers from the Boston Police Department. Walk around the first floor of the hotel to learn about these officers that were a part of the history of our building.
- Crowley Room (Superintendent Michael H. Crowley) - Superintendent Michael H. Crowley served for the Department from 1888 to 1933. Crowley was very well-liked and respected in the community and known by local Bostonians as “The Super”, a position he held for nearly 20 years. As the Superintendent, Crowley led his team through well-known Boston events including, The Molasses Flood, the May Day Riots, and the police strike of 1919.
- Sheehan Room (Deputy Superintendent James T. Sheehan) – Sheehan served from 1920-1952 and was a member of the first class to grade from the FBI National Academy. He was an honest cop known as the “Racket Buster.”
- Wilson Room (Deputy Superintendent Francis G. Wilson) – Wilson was most well-known for his role as the lead investigator in Brink’s Robbery and many other high-profile cases.
- Harrison Room (Detective Dorothy E. Harrison) – Harrison was most remembered as being Boston’s first African American woman detective and one of the only African American women who served during her tenure. When she joined the Boston Police Department during the Second World War, female officers were issued badges but did not have uniforms, weapons or automobiles. Her calming demeanor was extremely well received by both her peers and the community and soon after joining the Department, she was able to convince a distressed individual from harming himself with a gun, while she was unarmed.
- Taylor Room (Superintendent-in-Chief William J. Taylor) – Taylor served for the Department from 1940 – 1974. During his time on staff, he was largely responsible for helping to modernize the Department and added new processes like instituting the 911 call system. Taylor began his career in the Roxbury district before leaving to serve in the Second World War. When he passed the captain’s exam he was the youngest captain in the Department. Taylor. Known as a man of integrity and fairness, called the police the “men in the middle” during turbulent times.
- Pugsley Room (Sergeant Detective Arthur S. Pugsley) – Pugsley served as Sergeant Detective from 1929 – 1967 and is saluted by his seven sons Arthur Jr., Stanley, Ernest, Robert, Charles, John, and Richard. The Pugsley name still lives on at the Boston Police Department as a third-general family member currently serves at the Department.
Guest Room Floors
The Boston Police Department housed different departments throughout the buildings. The superintendent and deputies had offices on the first floor, the second floor was dedicated to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and later housed all the detectives and investigative units such as auto and drug. It was also on the second floor where there was a room with a walk-in vaulted safe where officers stashed confiscated pornography and other evidence. Dubbed The Safe Room, it became a meeting place for officers conducting private conversations.
The third floor originally housed women police officers, and later became an identification unit where suspects were fingerprinted, photographed, and sometimes identified through a lineup against a “mopboard.” Later on, the floor was used to store records. The other floors throughout the building were home to command units, the vice squad, administrative offices, the Commissioner, and the Chief of Police. The seventh floor originally contained hearing rooms and dormitories but would later be used for operations-¬dispatch, stolen cars, missing persons-and was nicknamed The Turret. Operators on this floor answered emergency calls "Devonshire-8 1212" until 1972 when 9-1-1 became the emergency number.
The basement, now known as Precinct Kitchen + Bar, housed storerooms of the signal service as well as the narcotic and liquor squads, and the pressroom.