Walking Time: 45 minutes / Driving Time: 25 minutes
One day when the weather is nice and you’re looking for something interesting, informative, and free to occupy your time, we suggest a walking tour of East Lawrence as presented by the Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau.
1. Your tour begins at the Southeast corner of 11th and New Hampshire (1000 block). The English Lutheran Church at 1040 New Hampshire is a classic example of the picturesque Gothic Revival style. Constructed in two phases in 1870 and 1900, the building was once in danger of being demolished. However, with help from the Lawrence Preservation Alliance, State Historic Preservation Office and local citizens, the structure was saved. Presently it serves as a law office and is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The church was designed by John G. Haskell, architect of the Douglas County Courthouse at 11th and Massachusetts, and Snow Hall on the KU campus.
2. Walk north to 1002 New Hampshire for a perfect example of building re-use in Old East Lawrence. Built in 1923, the building once served as a single-bay Phillips 66 gas station. Today it is home to Sunfire Ceramics, a painting and pottery studio. Turn right (east) on 10th St. and left (north) onto Rhode Island.
3. A survivor of Quantrill’s raid, the “Shalor Eldridge House” at 945 Rhode Island is one of the oldest standing structures in Lawrence. Built in 1857, it was restored in the 1970s after many years of neglect. Shalor Eldridge also built the historic Eldridge Hotel at 7th and Massachusetts St. One of the most eclectic and historic streets in all of Lawrence, the turn of the century architecture on Rhode Island is complimented by the original brick streets and limestone curbs uncovered by neighborhood volunteers in 1999.
4. The sandstone building at 905 Rhode Island was built by August Bromelsick, between 1863 and 1868, and has housed The Social Service League since 1937. This building continues to serve the community as a thrift store.
5. Across the street at 900 Rhode Island is the Turnhalle. Built in 1868, it is considered a symbol of German immigration in the Midwest during the 19th century, and was once the social center for the German community in Lawrence. The limestone façade retains most of its original features, including a stone marking above the doorway noting the date of the building’s completion.
Venture right (east) on 9th St. and take an immediate left (north) to enter the alleyway between Rhode Island and Connecticut. Barns, carriage houses, and sheds once populated these passageways to serve the residents of 19th century Lawrence. As you reach the end of the alley, look to the left (west), to see the “snake fence” that sits atop the stone wall. This is a fine example of Lawrence folk art, which prior to the 1920s and 30s, was viewed as simplistic and merely functional. When you reach 8th street, make a left (west), and then a right (north) onto Rhode Island. This area was once the location of several grand Victorian homes that were lost to development in the 1970s. Today, the left (west) side of the street is devoid of homes with only the native limestone fence remaining.
6. The right (east) side of Rhode Island is a unique mix of homes that includes the McAllaster home at 724 Rhode Island. The house escaped Quantrill’s Raiders, though the guerillas burned a large section of the home. Octavius McAllaster served for many years on the Lawrence School Board.
7. Built by Justin Dewitt Bowersock about 1860, 712 Rhode Island was among his many accomplishments. Bowersock served as the mayor of Lawrence, member of the Kansas House of Representatives, and the State Senate.
8. Make a right (east) on 7th St. and continue to the corner of 7th and New York. On the north (left) side sits the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Amtrak Station. The original classic two-story brick station was replaced with the current design in 1955. The modern building reflects the architectural heritage based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Prairie Style.”
9. Head right (south) onto the 700 block of New York. This area boasts some amazing examples of historic preservation. On the left (east) side of the street is 704 New York. These “twin” homes were relocated from their original locations within the Old East Lawrence neighborhood, and renovated by the present owners.
10. Moving south, though the house no longer stands at 731 New York, there is a plaque commemorating the former home of American poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967). During his early childhood, Hughes lived at this location from time to time with family friend Mary “Auntie” Reed.
11. Turn right (west) on 8th St. and left (south) on Connecticut. A drive down this tree lined street offers a visual history lesson in turn-of-the-century American architecture. The newer residence at 830 Connecticut mirrors the Craftsman Bungalow architectural elements of the older homes nearby.
12. Turn left (east) on 9th St. and right (south) on New York. At the southeast corner of 9th and New York stands the Saint Luke African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. This has been the spiritual home to the African American community in Lawrence for many years. It is also where a young Langston Hughes attended Sunday school in 1913, later writing about his experiences there. Today the building is listed in the Kansas State Historic Register.
13. Just south of the church at 936 New York stands New York Elementary School. Established in 1869, the present building was built as a public works project during the Depression of the 1930s. As you travel south on the 900 block of New York, you can see a variety of buildings that were once used commercially as grocery stores and other small businesses.
14. Turning left (east) on 10th you will notice at the southwest corner of 10th and New York Street, there stands a former church that has been rehabilitated into a private residence.
15. Continue east on 10th and take a right (south) on Delaware. At the northeast corner of 10th and Delaware is the latest historic monument in Lawrence, The Hobbs Park Memorial. The area of Hobbs Park was once the homestead of Pennsylvania newspaper publisher John Speer, known for helping to make “Bleeding Kansas” the birthplace of the struggle to end slavery in America. The brick and stone Murphy-Bromelsick House was relocated to Hobbs Park from its original location on the 900 block of Pennsylvania. This modest hand-built home is a wonderful artifact from the Civil War.
16. At the south end of Delaware St. stands Municipal Stadium. Built in 1954, it served as home to a semi-pro baseball team and today it is used by city softball leagues.
17. Turn right (west) on 11th Street. Moving along these few blocks one can see the variety of residential and commercial structures that make Old East Lawrence a diverse neighborhood. The California ranch home at 411 E. 11th illustrates how construction in these established neighborhoods has affected the area over time.
18. Take a left (south) onto New York St. To your immediate left (east) stands 1100 New York. An atypical example of historic preservation, the house is a survivor of Quantrill’s Raid and once was the home of a well-known Old East Lawrence bootlegger.
19. Travel until you reach 12th St. and take a right (west), then a right (north) on Rhode Island. At the corner of 11th, stands 1100 Rhode Island. What looks like a barn on the alley frontage, was in fact a livery stable serving the commercial needs of Lawrence in the 19th century.
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