The Eldridge Hotel
If you know anything about Lawrence history, you know about The Eldridge Hotel. A pillar of downtown Lawrence for over 150 years, this hotel has quite an interesting story.
The original structure, called the Free State Hotel, was built in 1855 by New England settlers who needed temporary quarters while waiting for their homes to be built. The next year Colonel Shalor Eldridge leased the building and equipped it as a first-class hotel. Just months later, it was attacked and burned to the ground by pro-slavery forces. Colonel Eldridge rebuilt the hotel, adding another floor, and making a pledge to rebuild every time it was destroyed.
Six years later the hotel, along with the rest of Lawrence, was destroyed by Quantrill and his raiders. Lawrence has always been a proud city and the people were determined to rebuild. Using an original cornerstone from the burned hotel, Colonel Eldridge promptly rebuilt the hotel with a new name – The Hotel Eldridge.
For the next several decades The Eldridge stood as one of the finest hotels west of the Mississippi River and played an important role in the early development of Lawrence and the State of Kansas. In 1925 the hotel had started to deteriorate and was purchased by a group of Lawrence business leaders who decided it should be torn down and rebuilt to its former dignity and elegance. A few decades later the building and the hotel’s business started to decline, and in 1970 the old hotel closed its doors and was converted into apartments.
In 1985, a group of investors supported by The City of Lawrence decided The Eldridge Hotel should be revived once again. The top four floors were completely rebuilt converting them into 48 two room luxury suites, and the lobby was restored. Then in 2004, the hotel was sold at auction, closed for a short time, and a multi-million dollar renovation project restored it to its 1925 grandeur. The Eldridge, occupying its historic corner on Massachusetts Street, once again became Lawrence’s premier hotel.
With such a fierce history, it’s no surprise that The Eldridge has its share of ghost stories. The fifth floor – especially room 506 – has been host to other-worldly happenings such as breath marks on recently cleaned mirrors, doors opening and shutting on their own, and lights turning on and off by themselves. Guests have even encountered an “elevator ghost” who opens and closes the elevator doors on the fifth floor.
Today The Eldridge Hotel, located at 7th and Massachusetts in Downtown Lawrence, is a thriving hotel and event venue perfectly situated and waiting to help you make your own history there.
Stephens Real Estate is locally owned and proud of the great town in which we live. We are an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know Lawrence, and they have the experience and the connections to help you find the right home. Call Stephens Real Estate at 785.841.4500 or Contact Us.