Have you ever deliberately tried to spend a night in jail? And gladly paid for the experience? In Clifton, heritage travelers can do just that.
Hidden in an alley of this central Texas historic downtown is an unassuming concrete building built in the early 1930s that once served as an overflow jail. Now known as the Cell Block, this unexpectedly welcoming jail makes it a pleasure to be behind bars.
Local resident Kaye Robinson Callaway had always been intrigued by the small building, which had become dingy and forgotten by the early 2010s. After walking past it countless times, she realized it could be repurposed into a miniature boutique hotel for travelers interested in a distinctive lodging experience.
She set to work contacting local preservationists, town leaders, and Clifton’s Main Street program about her adaptive-reuse project. She developed a proposal outlining economic and cultural benefits, and made efforts to involve community members with its construction and outreach.
The Cell Block officially opened in 2014, with a bright coat of white paint and crisp black detailing. Since then, guests have been treated to a high-quality lodging experience, from quality bedding and stylish furniture to a retro-styled record player with jail-themed albums, to bottles of local whiskey and wine. A rooftop patio with a gas fire pit offers a quiet place to watch the sunset.
Callaway is also responsible for the colorful attractions surrounding the Cell Block, known as Art Alley. These bright and bold murals with regional references help visitors experience local history and art exhibits in an otherwise-underutilized alley.
Just down the street is the historic 1916 Cliftex Theatre, which still shows current movies. The theater owners saved many of the historic details, including a few rows of the original 16-inch-wide seats in the front rows.
Around the corner is Avenue D, an inviting collection of charming historic Main Street buildings. Heritage travelers can drop by the visitor’s center (Norwegian flags fly in front, reflecting the region’s cultural heritage), browse through several antique shops, or spend the night at the Screen Door Inn, which occupies the circa-1900 Brooks Building.
It’s worth heading a few minutes across town to visit the Bosque Arts Center, housed in the stately 1923 administration building of the former Clifton Lutheran College. The arts center includes a significant collection of Western art, a live theater, and community art classes.
Just around the corner from the Bosque Arts Center is the impressive Bosque Museum, which showcases the area’s distinction as the Norwegian Capital of Texas. The collection’s most famous artifact is a hand-made rocking chair by one of the region’s Norwegian pioneers. Additional exhibits contain folk art, instruments, and photographs.
In nearby Meridian, the city’s proud downtown centerpiece is the 1886 Bosque County Courthouse, a remarkable three-story Victorian Gothic Revival building with an Italianate clock tower and corner turrets. The building was meticulously restored through the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program in 2007.
120 Clifton Art Alley
Clifton TX 76634
306 W 5th St.
Clifton, TX 76634
Screen Door Inn
110 N. Ave. D
Clifton TX 76634
(254) 675- 7829
Bosque Arts Center
215 College Hill Drive
Clifton, Texas 76634
Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
301 S. Ave. Q
Clifton, TX 76634
Thur. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Bosque County Courthouse
110 S Main St.
Meridian, TX 76665