It took some imagination to see the dilapidated Blake and Amory building along Washington Street as the future home of a new upscale hotel in downtown Boston.
But the company that bought the historic building two years ago for $23 million has been working to revive it ever since. Construction will continue through the summer and the owners expect the new 242-room Godfrey Hotel Boston to open on the corner of Washington and West streets in the fall.
“When it was bought, it was half vacant with only a liquor store on the first floor,” said project manager Yanni Tsipis.
The owners, who operate the Godfrey Hotel Chicago, started to rehab the Boston structure — actually two buildings joined together — by gutting most of the interior. Now, the area is a very clearly a construction zone, with the space around the facade dominated by a lattice of walkways and plywood.
Much of the exterior, notable for its Gothic detailing, is being cleaned up to show the original designs. In some damaged areas, the detailing is being replaced by plaster modeled to replicate the original.
Inside, workers have set about constructing walls, stairways, and elevators that capture the Godfrey owners’ vision for a more modern interior. It will eventually feature oak paneling, scattered couches and coffee tables, porcelain flooring, and large windows that open out onto the street. In the front lobby, the floor will merge with the outside brick to smooth the contrast between the exterior and the interior.
“What we’re trying to do is happily marry historical grandiose architecture with a modern inside,” said Larry Casillo, general manager of the Godfrey Hotel Boston.
The Blake and Amory buildings, constructed in two phases in 1904 and 1908, were designed by Boston architect Arthur Hunnewell Bowditch. Originally, the buildings were used mostly for the garment trade and the lower floors served as retail space.
Soon, the building’s upper floors will be occupied by the new hotel. The bottom floor of the 11-story Blake building will feature a George Howell Coffee shop, and the adjacent six-story Amory building will become home to a luxury restaurant.
Tsipis declined to say how much the renovation work will cost. But he said the complex job of restoring the buildings has been more expensive than it would have been to tear down the structure and start from scratch. “It looks easy, but that’s just not the case,” he said.