The Eldridge Hotel

15 11 2006

A few days ago on the To Purge This Land With Beer post reader Eldridge HotelPat Jones mentioned that the Free State Brewing Co. is located nearby the historic Eldridge Hotel.  I thought I’d flesh that out for everyone who may not be up on their Kansas history and did a little surfing.  I knew the hotel played a prominent role in “Bleeding Kansas” and in the Civil War, but I wanted to get a little more info so I went to the horse’s mouth, in this case the website of The Eldridge and that of the Kansas Historical Society. Like so many other historic hotels (Chattanooga’s Read House and Willard’s of Washington, DC), the present day Eldridge, while situated on the original site, is not the same structure which was present when the historic events with which it is associated occurred.  The first building, The Free State Hotel, was constructed in 1855 and was to serve as temporary living quarters for members of the Boston based New England Emigrant Aid Society.  This organization was funneling settlers and money to Kansas in order to assure its admission to the Union as a free (non-slaveholding) state. 

Pro-slavery forces under Sheriff Sam Jones burned down the Free State Hotel in Palmetto Guards Flag1856.  Prior to burning the building, a contingent of South Carolinians called the Palmetto Guards flew this flag from its roof.  Proprietor Col. Shalor Eldridge soon rebuilt the hotel, but in the infamous William Clarke Quantrill led raid on Lawrence in 1863 it was again burned to the ground.  Rebuilding the hotel once more, Col. Eldridge lent his own name to the establishment.   That hotel stood until 1925 when the deteriorated structure was torn down to make way for yet another incarnation of the Eldridge Hotel.  In 1970 the building was converted to apartments, but was renovated and converted back to a hotel in 1985.  In 2005, the current owners executed a multi-million dollar renovation. 

I’m sure I could write a lot more on the Eldridge Hotel.  That’s what usually happens when you pull a thread.  Pat really knows her Kansas history, and I encourage her to post as much as she likes about the Eldridge Hotel in particular or Civil War Kansas in general in the comments section here.  That goes for all of you…if you’ve got something you’d like to share, please do!  That’s why I have the comments feature turned on. 

Eldridge Hotel photo from Yahoo Travel Palmetto Guards Flag photo from Kansas Historical Society




2 responses

26 11 2008
Bull Run on Film « Bull Runnings

[…] By the way, Ride with the Devil is on AMC tonight.  I think it’s an under rated film, skillfully directed by Ang Lee with some fine, nuanced performances and beautifully filmed.  In my opinion, the writers skillfully and thoughtfully handled the characterization of a free black man who fought alongside his former master, though I’m sure it angered some folks and caused quite a few knees to jerk.  Here’s the raid on Lawrence (look for the Eldridge Hotel): […]


19 09 2013
James Newell

The southern rights flag was captured by John Ross Newell after the Carolinians had dragged and attempted to hang his father Jesse Newell, a radical all in Freestater. Jesse led Harvey and the others to their camp after the outrages they had committed. John R Newell was the actual physical captor of the flag which was then marched into Lawrence then sent back east and used to rally support for the Kansas Freestate effort. John Newell’s name was inscribed on the flag mast which is now “missing”. Does anyone know where it is?


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