VERMILION, Ohio - I have never spent much time in any jail, with the exception of interviews with prisoners or police officers. But there is a jail in Vermilion I would be willing to spend a night, or two, or three.
Jails by their very nature are uncomfortable abodes, but step into the former jail in this community on the shore of Lake Erie and you, too, probably would be willing to turn it into a vacation spot. It is the Old Vermilion Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast.
Marko Paradissis operates the place. He bought it several years ago as a place to store stuff he accumulated from several businesses and rental properties in the area. He thought what else he could do with it.
"I said to myself, the only other thing I could do here is sleep," he remembered. That's when the light bulb went off. He figured it would make for a nice bed and breakfast.
With a lot of changes — and I do mean a lot of changes — he turned the former booking room into a master bedroom of a suite of rooms. Three other former jail cells turned into two single-bed rooms and a shower. Add air conditioning, big-screen televisions and better plumbing, and voila, you've got something.
By the way, the steel-barred doors of the cells still exist. They do not lock, but they do slide open and closed. Artwork adorns the walls, which have also been painted. The concrete floor has received the artist's touch. What prisoners scuffed along in their shoes is now a painted floor, depicting marble with beautiful veins of color crisscrossing.
His first guest in 2013 was a successful businessman who years before had a run-in with the law and had spent six days in the building when it was the police department jail. Having long left a life of crime, the man wanted to close out that part of his life. "So he came here to be free and enjoy himself in the place where he had been locked up," smiled Paradissis.
The bed and breakfast receives the accolades of Visit Lorain County, the organization which markets and promotes various aspects of the county. Heather Fraelich, marketing coordinator for Visit Lorain County, walked through the small suite of three rooms and a shower and was impressed. "Wow," she exclaimed. "This place is really nice."
Fraelich was right. The Old Vermilion Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast is more than a hotel. It is an experience.
Paradissis will give any guest the key to the outside door. Once inside, the suite belongs to the guest for the stay. If you want to sleep with the jail cell doors closed, simply pull them to you. They won't lock. If you have to get up to leave or use the bathroom, simply push open the bars. That's more than the prisoners could do when they were housed here.
Paradissis rents the place at 691 Grant Street in Vermilion for $289 a night. You can be booked in the bed and breakfast by visiting www.jailbed.com.