All photos by Curtis W. Callaway. 

All photos by Curtis W. Callaway. 

THE CELL BLOCK

Imagine a place where you can escape the controlling bars of your day-to-day routine, where only you hold the key to your happiness. Break the chains of monotony and come to The Cell Block, where luxurious solitary confinement awaits you. An 1.5hr from Dallas and 2hrs from Austin, you can hear your muse more clearly in this small town, where the Arts thrive. 

Back in the days of Bonnie and Clyde, the town of Clifton built a city jail to house its occasional ruffians and drunks. The night watchman used it as his office, as the jail had the only public telephone in town after dark. In use for forty years, I have friends who’ve shared confidential stories of sleeping off a night’s binge here, reminiscent of Otis in Mayberry. In memory of its original guests, The Cell Block offers our guests two complimentary alcoholic libations. We partnered with local Red Caboose Winery to produce our exclusive private label: The Cell Block’s Tempranillo. If wine doesn’t loosen you up quite enough, you may choose to sip from a flask of Single Malt Whisky, conjured by Waco’s internationally acclaimed Balcones Distillery.

Other friends have told me tales of the jailer playing domino games with friends; if they were short a man, they’d drag the game over to the cell and let the prisoner play along. No cruel and unusual punishment here, unless good-natured braggadocio counts. Long after the jail quit housing prisoners, the old men still gathered here for dominos. Now it’s your turn to steal away, hide out, and unwind with our inlaid handcrafted wooden dominos, snuggled in a wooden cigar box.

There is no television in this jail. But what do Folsom Prison, San Quentin, “Back on the Chain Gang,” and “The Secret Policeman’s Ball” have in common? They are some of the contraband albums and singles you can play on The Cell Block’s record player. If it’s too much manual labor to flip those records every so often, then turn the knob to the radio and dial a local station. Smile as you reminisce while listening to the familiar crackle of music before the age of digitalization.

You can hear the train a comin’ with Johnny, since the railroad tracks are only two blocks away, and the lonesome whistles blows tenor to the tracks’ bass rumbling. Bring the cutest jailbird you know and rock the whole cell block with Elvis, or come alone and slink sultrily to “The Cell Block Tango” because, you know, he had it coming.

Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage;

Minds innocent and quiet take, That for an hermitage;

If I have freedom in my love, And in my soul am free,

Angels alone, that soar above, Enjoy such liberty.
— Richard Lovelace

Lovelace would’ve stayed at The Cell Block (he could’ve written “To Althea, from Prison” here). Join Hardy and Gray, and escape far from the madding crowd. Write your memoir, novel, love, or mother from jail, where you are only limited by yourself.

Or, relax in the Prison Yard on the rooftop deck, and soak up the visual art that surrounds The Cell Block: the town’s newest outdoor art venue, Clifton Art Alley. Watch artists as they paint murals on the buildings in the alley, art being created right before your eyes. Where Doré and Van Gogh painted looking into a prison yard, you can paint looking out of one.


Thanks to Curtis Callaway for shooting all the amazing photographs for The Cell Block. Check out more photos from Curtis at curtiswcallaway.com.