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10 Must-Visit Historic Sites In Lawrence, Kansas


by Tamarah Steinke


Lawrence, Kansas, a city steeped in history and culture, boasts a wealth of historic sites that offer a glimpse into its rich past. From the pre-Civil War era to the present day, Lawrence has played a pivotal role in shaping the history of Kansas and the nation. Visitors to this vibrant city can immerse themselves in its storied past by exploring a diverse array of historic landmarks and attractions. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a curious traveler, or simply someone seeking to uncover the tales of yesteryear, Lawrence has something to offer.

In this article, we'll take you on a journey through time as we highlight 10 must-visit historic sites in Lawrence, Kansas. From iconic buildings and museums to sites of significant historical events, each location encapsulates a unique chapter in Lawrence's narrative. So, grab your walking shoes, bring along your sense of wonder, and get ready to embark on a captivating exploration of Lawrence's compelling history.

The Eldridge Hotel

The Eldridge Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Lawrence, Kansas, has a rich history dating back to its establishment in Originally known as the Free State Hotel, it played a pivotal role in the tumultuous events leading up to the Civil War. The hotel was a frequent target for pro-slavery forces, and it was even destroyed and rebuilt twice. Today, The Eldridge Hotel stands as a symbol of resilience and endurance, offering modern luxury while preserving its historic charm.

Massachusetts Street

Massachusetts Street, often referred to as Mass Street, is the bustling epicenter of Lawrence's vibrant culture and history. Lined with eclectic shops, restaurants, and galleries, this historic thoroughfare exudes a lively energy that beckons visitors to explore its diverse offerings. As one of the oldest streets in Lawrence, Massachusetts Street is steeped in the city's heritage, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a blend of past and present.

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics stands as a testament to the distinguished career and enduring legacy of Senator Bob Dole. This renowned institution serves as a hub for political engagement, historical archives, and educational programs. Visitors can immerse themselves in the life and work of Senator Dole, explore thought-provoking exhibits, and participate in discussions that delve into the intricacies of American politics.

Haskell Indian Nations University

Haskell Indian Nations University holds a significant place in the tapestry of Lawrence's history, as it is the oldest intertribal university in the United States. With roots dating back to the late 19th century, the university continues to provide a vital educational platform for Native American students, honoring its heritage while fostering academic excellence. The campus reflects a blend of tradition and innovation, offering a glimpse into the enduring spirit of Native American culture.

Watkins Museum of History

The Watkins Museum of History stands as a guardian of Lawrence's past, preserving and presenting the narratives that have shaped the city's identity. Housed in the historic Watkins Land Mortgage and National Bank building, the museum showcases a diverse array of exhibits, artifacts, and archival materials that illuminate the local history and its connections to broader historical movements. Visitors can delve into the stories of Lawrence's early settlers, the Bleeding Kansas era, and the evolution of the city through immersive displays and educational programs.

Quantrill's Raid

Quantrill's Raid, a pivotal event during the Civil War, left an indelible mark on the history of Lawrence, Kansas. The infamous raid, led by Confederate guerrilla leader William Quantrill, resulted in the devastating burning and looting of the town, leaving a profound impact on its residents and shaping the course of the war. Today, the legacy of Quantrill's Raid serves as a reminder of Lawrence's resilience in the face of adversity and the enduring spirit of its community.

The University of Kansas

The University of Kansas stands as a beacon of academic excellence and a cornerstone of Lawrence's cultural landscape. Founded in 1865, the university has played a pivotal role in shaping the intellectual and artistic fabric of the city. Its sprawling campus, adorned with iconic landmarks such as the Campanile and the Natural History Museum, invites visitors to explore its storied halls and experience the legacy of learning and innovation that defines the institution.

The Free State Brewing Company

The Free State Brewing Company holds the distinction of being Kansas's first legal brewery in over a century, marking a significant milestone in the state's brewing history. Established in the heart of downtown Lawrence, this beloved brewery pays homage to the city's rich heritage and independent spirit. Visitors can savor a diverse selection of handcrafted beers while immersing themselves in the vibrant ambiance of a historic building that resonates with Lawrence's enduring legacy.

The Castle Tea Room

The Castle Tea Room, a captivating architectural gem nestled in Lawrence's historic environs, exudes an air of timeless elegance and charm. Originally constructed as a private residence in the early 20th century, the building has been meticulously restored to its former glory, offering a unique setting for special events and gatherings. Stepping into the Castle Tea Room is akin to embarking on a journey through Lawrence's past, where the echoes of bygone eras converge with modern-day celebrations.

The Spencer Museum of Art

The Spencer Museum of Art, located on the University of Kansas campus, stands as a testament to the power of artistic expression and cultural enrichment. With a diverse collection spanning various periods and genres, the museum invites visitors to embark on a visual odyssey through the realms of creativity and human imagination. From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, the museum's exhibits encapsulate the essence of artistic evolution, serving as a vibrant tapestry of inspiration and enlightenment.


Exploring the historic sites in Lawrence, Kansas, offers a captivating journey through time, showcasing the rich tapestry of the city's past. From the poignant stories of the Bleeding Kansas era to the architectural marvels of the 19th century, each site encapsulates a unique chapter in the city's history. Visitors can immerse themselves in the legacy of influential figures and pivotal events that have shaped Lawrence into the vibrant community it is today. Whether delving into the Civil War history at the Robert Hall Pearson Farm or marveling at the grandeur of the Massachusetts Street Historic District, these sites provide an enriching experience for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike. By delving into Lawrence's historical tapestry, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for the city's heritage and the enduring spirit of its people.


Q: Are these historic sites suitable for family visits?
A: Yes, many of the historic sites in Lawrence, Kansas, are family-friendly, offering educational and engaging experiences for visitors of all ages.

Q: Are there guided tours available at these historic sites?
A: Some historic sites offer guided tours, providing in-depth insights into the historical significance and stories behind each location. It's advisable to check with individual sites for tour availability and schedules.