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Archive for Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Site has long history of celebration, commemoration, even violence

May 11, 2005

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1854

Aug. 26: Officers of the New England Emigrant Aid Co. trustees instruct S.C. Pomeroy, the Kansas agent, to purchase mills and erect "Receiving Houses."

Sept. 15: A temporary building, a "hay tent," is erected and named the Pioneer Boarding House. This is to serve until a permanent hotel can be erected.

Fall: This "hotel" burns and another, the St. Nicholas, is built in the same way with some improvements.

Nov. 2: Charles Robinson informs the executive committee that the cellar is dug.

Nov. 29: Robinson advises the committee of the suspension of operations for the want of money.

1855

Spring: Property advertised for "Hotel for Let." Shortly after, the building is leased to Shalor W. Eldridge.

April 28: Basement walls are finished and ready for timbers.

Oct. 6: The hotel is enclosed, its roof on and its first and second floors finished. It is given the name Free State Hotel.

Nov. 15: First social event at the hotel -- "Military Festival" -- is given by Kansas Rifles No. 1.

Dec. 7: Territorial Gov. Wilson Shannon and others move through the hall of the hotel to lay upon a table the body of Thomas Barber, murdered the night before by a pro-slavery man.

Dec. 10: Lawrence residents arrange and sign a Treaty of Peace, and give a peace party at the hotel.

1856

Jan. 1: New Year's Ball is given in the still-unfinished hotel.

April 12: Announcement is made that the hotel is finished; entire cost of hotel exceeds $20,000.

Work by Judith Sabatini, a Topeka photographer, will be included in
the Eldridge Hotel's interior. The hotel's key color scheme will be
black and tan with black-and-white photographs.

Work by Judith Sabatini, a Topeka photographer, will be included in the Eldridge Hotel's interior. The hotel's key color scheme will be black and tan with black-and-white photographs.

April: Hotel is furnished for about $5,000.

May 21: Under pretense that he had an order from the court, Sheriff Sam Jones and his pro-slavery posse fire cannons and other weapons in an attempt to destroy the Free State Hotel. The building then is set ablaze from the inside and, in a short time, is in ruins. The hotel is one of several properties destroyed in the "sack of Lawrence."

June 14: Emigrant Aid Co. immediately sets about to rebuild.

June-December: The raising of funds does not proceed too well, and in November the executive committee advises discontinuing work until spring.

1857

Feb. 2: Shalor Eldridge proposes to purchase the hotel foundation, stable and land for $5,000.

June 22: Eldridge takes possession of the property and, in partnership with his three brothers, begins work. He would add another floor, vowing to do the same every time the hotel is destroyed.

1858

Dec. 16: The building -- renamed Eldridge House -- finally is furnished and opened to guests at an estimated cost of $80,000.

1859-1863

The Eldridge House becomes the center of the town's social activities.

1863

Aug. 21: Quantrill and his band raid Lawrence, leaving the city -- and the hotel -- in ruins.

Sept. 1: Prominent residents of Lawrence send a letter to Shalor Eldridge, encouraging him to rebuild.

1864

Feb. 25: City voters are encouraged to approve issuing bonds, arguing that the city is prospering and that a good hotel would bring emigrants.

March 3: Bond election carries by a vote of 162 to 47 for $15,000.

Sept. 20: The building is up to the third story, and stores are finished and occupied, but work on the rest of the building lags.

1865

Dec. 5: Taxpayers inquire about the prospects of the building being completed, and the hotel is deeded to the city; the hotel soon is turned over to Douglas County for taxes.

1866

Randy English, general manager at the new Eldridge Hotel, shows
renovations in the ballroom.

Randy English, general manager at the new Eldridge Hotel, shows renovations in the ballroom.

May 21: Eldridge sells the hotel to George W. Deitzler.

Sept. 27: The hotel opens for the reception of guests.

1876

January: The Eldridge House is purchased by H.H. Ludington, who changes the hotel's name to the Ludington House.

1880

J.R. Pershall of Junction City buys the hotel, restoring the former name.

1883

The Eldridge House does not maintain its high standards and is in a dilapidated condition.

1884-1898

Ownership changes hands from Pershall to Mrs. A.M. Deitzler, then to Edward Maloy.

1899

Maloy sells the building and contents to E.G. Conn.

1907

November: After passing through the hands of several members of the Conn family, the hotel is sold to Anna L. Hutson.

The Eldridge Hotel is shown in the 1950s.

The Eldridge Hotel is shown in the 1950s.

1910

Mrs. Hutson deeds the hotel to her two sons, George E. Hutson & William G. Hutson.

1912

William G. Hutson becomes the hotel's sole possessor.

1925

The Chamber of Commerce initiates an appeal to the Lawrence people to help build a modern hotel; $50,000 is raised by subscription.

May 18: Work begins on the new building, planned to be rebuilt in sections.

Aug. 21: On the 62nd anniversary of Quantrill's Raid, a ceremony for the cornerstone takes place.

1926

April 8: The hotel opens to visitors.

1929

Jan. 1: The celebration for the completion of the south half of the hotel takes place with an open house.

A print of the first Eldridge Hotel, built in 1856 by Col. S.W.
Eldridge.

A print of the first Eldridge Hotel, built in 1856 by Col. S.W. Eldridge.

1958

William Hutson's grandson Michael Getto becomes the hotel manager.

1959

William "Billy" Hutson resides at the Eldridge House Hotel until his death.

The hotel continues to operate until 1970, with Hutson's wife and his daughter Virginia Getto retaining ownership.

1970

July 1: The Eldridge closes its doors as a hotel.

1972

Michael Getto and two business partners purchase the building and renovate it into 40 apartments.

1985

Rob Phillips and his business partners begin a plan to convert the building back into a hotel.

1986

Dec. 31: The newly restored Eldridge Hotel opens with its first guests. The business includes Shalor's Restaurant and The Jayhawker bar.

1999

September: Hotel general manager Rob Phillips announces a deal to sell the hotel to investors who would use it to anchor a larger development: a hotel with at least 200 rooms, several conference areas and an adjacent parking garage for up to 300 cars. The deal never closed.

Midnight Revelers ring in a new millennium on Jan. 1, 2000, at the
Eldridge Hotel.

Midnight Revelers ring in a new millennium on Jan. 1, 2000, at the Eldridge Hotel.

2003

June 11: Kansas Department of Revenue officials raid the hotel to collect some of the $108,982 in back taxes owed by the hotel. Officials would raid the hotel again in November.

September: Mid-America Bank of Baldwin begins foreclosure proceedings after hotel misses a $1.3 million loan payment.

December: Just before Christmas, hotel files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection but remains open.

2004

October: An investment group led by Bobby Douglass and Mitchell and Susan Chaney buys the hotel, for $2.92 million, at bankruptcy auction.

2005

Jan. 3: Hotel closes for renovations.

Today: Hotel scheduled to reopen to guests.

-- Sources: Eldridge Hotel, Journal-World archives

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