Brenna Buchanan, who led a tour of downtown Lawrence on Saturday morning, encouraged participants to examine things closely.
A window, block of stone or doorway could bring Lawrence's history to light, she said.
"You'll start to see the little details that tell the story of the building," Buchanan said as the group wound its way through streets and alleys.
Buchanan, a junior in Kansas University's School of Architecture and Urban Planning, is one of the guides for the new walking tours offered by Downtown Lawrence Inc. The hourlong tours are free throughout June and will cost $5 in July. They are led by KU architecture students and set off at 9 a.m. on Saturdays from the Farmers' Market near Ninth and New Hampshire streets.
"We have such a fabulous downtown area," said Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. "I think a lot people take it for granted. We are hoping through this to educate people about the history of downtown and to share with them some of the great stories that have taken place down here."
About 10 people took the tour led by Buchanan on Saturday morning. The KU student pointed out the limestone facade on the side of one building, a type of stone that was quarried in the area and is a common thread among many downtown structures, she said.
She pointed to cornices, doorways and windows, explaining how the structure fit the needs of the building's owners.
Remnants of the past are everywhere, she explained to and showed the participants.
Buchanan pointed up to one small circle in a piece of stone near the southwestern corner of Ernst and Sons Hardware, 826 Mass. The piece is all that remains on Massachusetts Street of the Patee Theater, which once stood on the site of what is now a walkway on the southern side of Ernst and Sons.
Buchanan and fellow tour guides took a course at KU focusing on the buildings and history of Lawrence. The city is a great place to be an architecture student, she said.
"Lawrence has so much history to it," she said. "It has very good examples of how the buildings evolved from the 20th century when they were built."
Eli Jost, a 10-year-old who loves history and architecture, and often takes tours of Old West Lawrence just to marvel at the homes, was among those on the tour Saturday.
"I thought it would be kind of fun to learn about some of the historic buildings down here," he said. "It was cool."