The Big Six is a bar in the basement of the historic Eldridge Hotel in downtown Lawrence, Kansas. Like Lawrence and the Eldridge itself, The Big Six has a "big" history:
In the late 1920’s, while William “Billy” Hutson was rebuilding the Eldridge Hotel, another development was taking place- the formation of the Big 6 Athletic Conference. Billy, being an avid sports fan and wanting to be one of the first to support the new league, named the downstairs meeting room of the Eldridge the Big 6 Room. The nostalgia of the era still remains with its history embedded in the terrazzo floor with a pennant representing each of the six original teams. When the Big 6 Conference was formed in 1928 it included the University of Kansas, University of Missouri, Kansas State (then called Kansas Agricultural College), Iowa State, the University of Nebraska and the University of Oklahoma. Since then, the league has expanded. It now includes the University of Colorado, added in 1947, and Oklahoma State University, added in 1957.
The Big 6 emblems with their mascots also stretch across the Big 6 Room walls, but notice how they are dominated by another face, that of the Haskell Indians. Between the years of 1918 and 1932 Haskell Institute was considered a football powerhouse. Kansas City University was just one of the victims that suffered a stunning defeat in 1922. Haskell pounded KCU 102-2 and again in 1923 by shutting them out 98-0. The Big 6 schools suffered defeats, also. OU lost in 1920 and KU was routed in 1930 by Haskell. In 1926, Michigan State fell prey to the Indians 40-7, but Haskell was unable to pull off a win against Notre Dame, losing 7-42 in 1921 and a bruising 0-73 loss in 1932. Another reason for the representation of Haskell might have been the close friendship between Billy Hutson and Frank McDonald, the Athletic Director for Haskell Institute.
Football was surely the most popular sport of the era but this was also the time when KU established itself as a dominant force on the basketball court. Between 1922 and 1927 KU’s record was 77-5 - impressive numbers in any league. Phog Allen, who took over the KU program in 1920 was also a friend of Billy and no doubt had some influence on the The Big 6 Room.
The Big 6 Room served as a meeting room for groups staying at the Eldridge and the community until the early 1970’s when it became a series of bars—The Big 8 Disco, Sherriff Sam Jones (named after the sheriff who first burned down the hotel in 1856), G.P. Lloyd’s, Moody’s, Baron’s and the Kansas Sports Bar and Grill.
Despite the many changes the Big 6 Room has undergone, it still retains its original purpose which is to support the teams that spark competition and sportsmanship among us.
- Phone: 785-749-1005