September 14 & 15, 2020
The Eldridge Hotel
701 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Interesting Facts About Lawrence and Lawrencians
•Many of the streets are named for states – and generally speaking the state-named streets are in the order that the states were admitted to the union, starting with Delaware.
•In 1864, the University of Kansas was founded beginning with six departments of instruction: science, arts and literature, medicine, theory and practice of elementary instruction, and agriculture. KU now offers 5,000 courses in over 600 degree and certificate programs.
•In 1884, a Native American boarding school operated by the federal government opened in Lawrence; enrollment increased from 22 students to more than 400 students in one semester as children were removed from reservations. The boarding school aimed to assimilate Native Americans to English culture. During the 20th century, the school shifted its purpose from assimilation to Native American education. In 1967, the school was converted to a junior college and in 1993, the school was renamed Haskell Indian Nations University and began offering four-year baccalaureate degree programs.
•KU alumnus, Clyde Tombaugh, discovered Pluto.
•The first detection of a mass quantity of helium on earth occurred on KU’s campus in 1905.
•The Eldridge Hotel was burned twice; once in 1856 during the Sacking of Lawrence and again in 1863 during Quantrill’ Raid. Colonel Eldridge vowed to add a floor every time it was rebuilt.
•Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball, but is the only basketball coach in the University of Kansas’ history with a losing record. (55-60) KU now plays its home games at Allen Fieldhouse, located at 1651 Naismith Drive.
•According to Google, Lawrence is at the center of the universe. The default center of Google Earth (on personal computers) is Meadowbrook Apartments, Lawrence, Kansas. (On iOS systems, the center of the earth is in Chanute, Kansas.)
History of Lawrence
In 1854, settlers from Massachusetts established Lawrence for political reasons and named the town after Omos A. Lawrence, a noted abolitionist who offered financial aid and support for the settlement. As soon as it was settled, Lawrence earned a reputation as the home of some of Kansas’s most fervent anti-slavery activists.
In December, 1855, a small army of Missourians, acting under the command of “Sheriff” Samuel J. Jones, laid siege to Lawrence in the opening stages of what would later become known as “The Wakarusa War.”
Five months later, a motley group of 700 armed pro-slavery enthusiasts raided Lawrence in what became known as the “Sacking of Lawrence.” They burned the Free State Hotel (now the Eldridge Hotel), smashed the presses of two Lawrence newspapers, ransacked homes and stores, and killed one man.
Lawrence acted as an important stop on the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves reach freedom safely. The Grover Barn is one of the best preserved Underground Railroad sites still standing in Lawrence.
The Missouri/Kansas border war grew and in 1861, Kansas chose to become a free state. Lawrence was the continuing scene of several bloody encounters and the state would later become known as “Bleeding Kansas.” The worst of these encounters occurred in 1863, when William Quantrill and 400 men from Missouri rode into Lawrence. Quantrill’s Raiders descended on the still sleeping town of Lawrence and in four terrible hours, turned the town into a bloody and blazing inferno unparallel in its brutality. By the time it was over, they had killed approximately 180 men and boys, and left Lawrence nothing more than smoldering ruins. The Free State Hotel was burned to the ground a second time. After Quantrill’s raid, only one building on Massachusetts Street was left standing.
The resilient citizens of Lawrence buried the dead and banded together on the road to recovery. Within days, makeshift stores re-opened and rebuilding began. By the following spring, new stores, two newspapers and telegraph wires were established. The first bridge across the Kansas River at Lawrence was also finished. Only months later, the railroad came through. Lawrence had survived and would adopt the city motto: “From Ashes to Immortality.”