An east Lawrence neighborhood headed toward redevelopment was once a refuge for freed slaves and Mexican immigrants as well as an industrial district.
On June 9, people will have a chance to take a walking tour of the Eighth and Pennsylvania streets area as well as see inside some of the neighborhood's old industrial buildings.
"I think it will be of interest to a lot of Lawrence folks," said Dennis Brown, president of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance and organizer of the tour.
Though changes are ahead for the area around Eighth and Pennsylvania streets, many of its historical neighborhood features will continue to exist under a plan by developer Bo Harris.
"There will be some changes but not wholesale changes," Brown said.
The tour will begin at what's called the Poehler building, once a mercantile warehouse. Helen Krische, archivist at Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., and Harris will talk about the history of the neighborhood and its buildings. Harris will lead a tour and talk about his redevelopment plans while showing some of the interiors of four buildings.
The area, known as the east bottoms, was the site of ethnic enclaves that included American Indian tribes in the early 1800s. Slaves stayed in small buildings there after they escaped from the South during the Civil War. The Santa Fe Railway later built a housing complex known as La Yarda that was home to Mexican immigrants who worked on the tracks.
The Poehler building and others were built during a period from the 1880s to the 1920s.
"As fast as Lawrence grows and changes, when there is a little, forgotten pocket there, that really intrigues me," Brown said.
Harris plans to use federal and state tax credits to help pay for the redevelopment. Some features, such as some of the building facades, will remain.
The tour begins at 9:30 a.m. June 9 at the Poehler building, 619 E. Eighth St. LPA members can take the tour for free; the charge is $3 for nonmembers.