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$2.7 million expansion enhances The Priory Hotel's charm


Housed in a 19th century former monastery featuring rooms decorated with original paintings and antique furniture, the Priory Hotel on the Northside has been putting lesser boutique hotels to shame for decades. The Priory recently outdid itself with the completion of a $2.7 million expansion which includes the addition of 17 new rooms boasting king size beds and widescreen televisions, a European-style bar, state of the art fitness center, and cozy meeting room.

"Our property at the time had 25 guest rooms and we'd been experiencing dramatic occupancy growth, but we felt we'd pretty much hit the wall in terms of development due to geographic constraints. By happenstance, the apartment building directly next door unfortunately caught fire and burnt severely last January," says owner John Graf, whose parents opened The Priory Hotel in 1986 after St. Mary's Parish closed its doors.

The owners of the building decided not to rebuild, so Graf and his wife Suzanne jumped at the opportunity to buy and demolish the unsalvageable building. Working with general contractors Bridges & Company, Richard Lawrence Interiors, and lead architect and Northside resident Bob Baumbach of Denny Campbell Architecture + Design, the Grafs built an addition featuring architectural details like custom doors and woodwork that blend seamlessly into the older section of the hotel.

While the 17 new "classic" rooms feature upholstery designed to match the décor in the older rooms, they set themselves apart with larger beds and vanities, strong colors, and original works of art from the Shaw Galleries and the Graf's private collection.

The new fitness center and meeting room on the first-floor was just completed this week, along with the newly retooled Monk's Bar. "The bar is in our library and it's very intimate. It has huge walls and it used to be where the Parish records were kept for the church next door," says Graf.

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Writer: John Farley
Source: John Graf

Photograph copyright John Farley
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