February 1, 2011

The Eldridge Hotel - Lawrence, KS

Few sites in Kansas can claim the spirit and endurance of the Eldridge Hotel. It has been at the center of two major conflicts in Lawrence - the fight between the Free State men and pro-slavery forces as well as Quantrill's raid. But through it all, The Eldridge Hotel still stands and offers the best in luxurious accommodations.

The original hotel was built in 1855 as the Free State Hotel. The name is particularly meaningful. It was called the Free State because the early settlers were determined that Kansas should enter the union in the Free State and it served as the headquarters of the Free State men.

But in 1856, the hotel was attacked and burned down Sheriff Jones and his posse of pro-slavery men (the same group that burned down Liberty Hall). But true to Lawrence spirit, it did not remain rubble for long. In 1857, Colonel Eldridge rebuilt the hotel with his brothers and swore they would rebuild it again if it were re-attacked. Colonel Eldridge must have had a premonition because the hotel was attacked and burned down again, this time by Quantrill's raid. In that infamously brutal raid, Quantrill and his band left Lawrence in ruins and killed 180 men and boys. In a mere four hours, they had decimated the city.

Quantrill and his men stomped the city but not the heart of Lawrence. The city adopted the motto, "From Ashes to Immortality," and set about rebuilding. Colonel Eldridge reopened The Hotel Eldridge in 1865. Over the years it has been through numerous renovations. Most recently, a group of investors with support of the city of Lawrence rebuilt the top four floors and restored the lobby in 1985.

In addition to its history, The Eldridge Hotel is also haunted. There have been numerous reports of ghostly activity on the fifth floor, including reports of elevators opening and closing on their own as well as people seeing apparitions. Room 506 is the primary source of these spooky reports. Supposedly, people have seen breath marks on recently cleaned mirrors, doors opening and closing, and even lights turning on and off by themselves.

If you need somewhere to stay in Lawrence and appreciate the rich history and endurance of the town (as well as enjoy a bit of luxury in your accommodations), then book a room at the Eldridge Hotel. Or at least stop by to see just how beautiful the hotel can be from ashes to immortality.

Total Time Traveled: 10 minutes
Total Distance Traveled: 6 miles
Soundtrack: "Fever to Tell" Yeah Yeah Yeah's


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