575 Commonwealth Avenue
Coordinates: 575 Commonwealth Avenue is a dormitory at Boston University. Until 2001 the building was a Howard Johnson hotel owned by the University. It is located in Kenmore Square next to the Rafik B. Hariri Building, which houses the Questrom School of Business.
The building at 575 Commonwealth Avenue opened in November 1963 as the Fenway Commonwealth Motor Hotel. It contained 150 rooms and a 135-car garage. It was the third hotel in the Commonwealth Motor Hotel chain. In 1975 the hotel became a Howard Johnson's.
The seventh floor was home to a cocktail lounge. Originally known as the Cartoon Room, it later became a Top 40 club called the Up and Up Lounge. In 1983 it became a jazz club known as the Starlight Roof. Among the artists to perform at the Starlight were Ruby Braff, Tanya Hart, Tal Farlow, Phil Wilson, Scott Hamilton, Guy Van Duser, and Chris Connor. The lounge's final incarnation was as a nightclub known as the Lava Bar.
In 1987, the hotel's swimming pool was closed from August 19 to September 23 for sanitary violations.
In 1992, Boston University purchased the hotel for $7.5 Million. At the time of the purchase, the University stated that the building would most likely be renovated to serve as a conference center, possibly in conjunction with the Boston University School of Management that was going to be built next door. After the purchase, BU leased the building to Howard Johnson Co. BU rented out for its students at the hotel when there was a shortage of student housing.
On February 5, 1994, about 200 people were evacuated from the hotel after a fire broke out on the top floor of the building. Five people were treated for smoke inhalation.
The dorm is coeducational, and houses 456 residents on six residential floors. It lacks a dining facility; residents must eat at one of the three on-campus dining locations (the nearest being 100 Bay State Road). However, residents do enjoy a number of amenities that are unusual for dormitory style housing, owing to the building’s previous life as a hotel. These include air conditioning and private bathrooms for each room.
Most rooms are triple occupancy, with very few double and single occupancy rooms also found throughout.
While the University officially refers to the facility as "575 Commonwealth Avenue," students sometimes shorten this to simply "575," but almost exclusively call it "HoJo," in reference to its previous use.
The building is constructed over a dual-tiered parking garage. Under normal circumstances these parking areas are reserved for staff members with the proper permit. The University also sells spaces during Red Sox games at nearby Fenway Park.
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- "Restaurants Closed for Sanitary Violations". The Boston Globe. November 16, 1987.
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