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Frostburg, Maryland

The Jail in the Gunter Hotel

The antique hotel still has a jail in the basement, though the cockfighting ring is long gone. 

The Gunter Hotel in Frostburg, Maryland has a rich history, some of which is entangled in illicit affairs. In addition to housing travelers, the antique building also contained a jail, a speakeasy, and at one point a cockfighting ring in the basement.

When the hotel first opened in 1897, it had a cafe, a barbershop, and a room where traveling salesmen could exhibit their stock. There were tennis courts, an observatory, and a petting zoo complete with a tame fawn. Then there were the more unusual attractions.

Prisoners being transported down Route 40 would spend the night in the hostel’s subterranean jail while the federal marshals accompanying them enjoyed the upstairs accommodations. And during Prohibition, the cellar held a speakeasy where in-the-know patrons enjoyed a bit of banned booze and illicit entertainment.

Though Gunter Hotel did briefly fall into disrepair in the middle of the 20th century, it was recently re-purchased and renovations are in the works. The new owners have kept the jail intact, and have also installed a replica of a coal mine in honor of the area’s mining history. The display includes a coal car and train tracks used to haul coal out of the local mines.

Know Before You Go

The Gunter Hotel is in northwest Maryland, close to the Pennsylvania border. It's about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and about 115 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.