Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Haunted Lawrence

I'm not a believer in ghosts, but as Halloween approached I thought it would be of interest to readers to see some of the areas ghost stories and haunted attractions. That said, lets take a look at the reportedly "haunted places," in Lawrence.

The Eldridge Hotel
According to the website, Haunted Places to Go, the Eldridge is one of the most popular haunted places in the state of Kansas.  Located at 706 Massachusetts in downtown Lawrence, the hotel is reportedly haunted, but not for the current building there. Rather, it is the previous "Free State Hotel," that was attacked on May 21, 1856 by cannon that started a fire in the hotel. It was rebuilt, only to again be set on fire during William Quantrill's raid on Lawrence on August 21, 1863.
In the year of 1865, the hotel – which had been destroyed not once, but twice – was officially rebuilt and opened to the public. This time, it was blessed with a new name – the Eldridge Hotel. It was constructed using what remained from the previous hotel – a simple cornerstone. As time progressed, this hotel was considered to be the finest hotel that stood west of the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, by the time that the year 1925 arrived, the structure was in disarray and needed to be reconstructed. It had played such an intense role in the history of the city that many felt it was only appropriate to bring it back to its original splendor. However, the years took its toll on the building once more by the era of the 60s. As a result, its doors were closed on the 1st day of July in the year of 1970.

The hotel stood, barren and in disarray, for a decade and a half. In the year of 1985, many locals of the region decided that it would be appropriate to fix up the hotel and make use of it. It was at this time that renovations on the building started. Investors, along with a two million dollar donation from the City of Lawrence, started rebuilding the structure. The top four individual floors of the building were completely stripped and renovated and created an amazing forty eight suites that consisted of two rooms each. Additionally, the lobby of the building was also renovated and created in such a manner that it displayed the original elegance that it displayed in its earliest days.

As with any building with a previous life, the renovations seemed to spark ghostly tales. When these renovations started, rumor quickly got around that the hotel was one of the most haunted places in Kansas. Many that worked on the building and several that worked for the hotel have shared numerous ghost stories – especially about the fifth floor. It is believed that the heightened emotions and tragic turmoil of the structure has created a spiritual based portal in the fifth floor. The specific room associated with this portal is identified as the number “506. In and around this room, strange experiences such as doors opening and closing on their own, electrical complications, and cold spots have been encountered.
- Haunted Places to Go

The Eldridge Hotel
photographer Kevin Surbaugh
Reportedly the cornerstone, mentioned above is in that room and that is why Room 506 is the portal to the spirit world.

Haskel Indian Nations University
According to those who believe,there are a number of locations at Haskell Indian Nations University, an 1800s institution built to help Native Americans assimilate with the mainstream population, that are rumored to be haunted. At the Bell Tower, students have reported a mysterious sealed-off wall in the basement and a feeling of being watched from above as they pass by. At Hiawatha Hall, the oldest building on the campus, a ghost supposedly opens and closes doors, even those propped open with a doorstop. At Haskell Auditorium, a ghost reportedly sits in the auditorium seats during shows, and a little girl has been heard crying backstage. In Pocahontas Hall’s basement, the ghost of a girl who once hanged herself here may appear hanging from the ceiling. And just south of Taminend Hall, ghostly crying has been heard at a small cemetery containing the remains of approximately 70 children who died during a smallpox epidemic.

Sigma Nu Fraternity - Kansas University
According to, the house that now houses the Fraternity, used to be the home of former Governor Walter Stubbs (who served 1909-1913) and his wife. Reportedly, after spending time in Topeka, Governor Stubbs came home (on April 22, 1911) to find the maid, "Virginia," hung in the third floor ball room.  He later found his wife rocking back and forth, traumatized by the death.  Reportedly, she hung herself, and her ghost has been seen throughout the house since.  Although, there is some question if she really did kill herself or if she was murdered.
According to the legend, Stubbs' wife suspected her husband of having an affair with Virginia, so she killed the girl and trussed her up in the closet to make it look like suicide.

The governor's wife was later committed to an asylum, according to one account of the tale.

The story doesn't end there.

As an added twist, the legend states that the governor had Virginia's cremated remains buried behind the large stone fireplace.

Adding to the mystery is an engraved plate on the fireplace with a cryptic message that says in Gothic typeface, "The World of Strife Shut Out, the World of Love Shut In.".

So there you have it.  Reported ghosts in Lawrence, and not to far away (about 11 miles) in nearby Stull, is the "Gateway to Hell," as we told you about last Halloween Season.

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