Archive for Sunday, June 17, 2012

Liberty Hall location saw fires, several rebuildings before 1911

June 17, 2012


Buildings at the corner of modern-day Seventh and Massachusetts streets date back to at least 1855. But none withstood the test of time — or fire — like present-day Liberty Hall.

The building housing the Herald of Freedom newspaper was burned down in Sheriff Jones’ attack on Lawrence in 1856.

It was rebuilt and housed other businesses, but burned again in Quantrill’s Raid in 1863.

Rebuilt again, the next building had a second-floor gathering space that became popular for community events. That space was dedicated in 1870 as the first Liberty Hall — so named because Abraham Lincoln once called Lawrence the “cradle of liberty.” At that time, Liberty Hall was the center of Lawrence’s public social gatherings, with church suppers, festivals, fairs, dances and hotly contested political debates.

In 1882, J.D. Bowersock bought the building, demolished it and created a new community gathering place: the elegant Bowersock Opera House. The opera house survived a small stage fire in 1896 but was completely destroyed by another fire, which originated in a room off the stage, in 1911.

Bowersock, vowing the building would never again succumb to fire, and was rebuilt once more — using concrete and brick. One-hundred years later, his “fire-proof” building still stands as a beloved gathering place for the community of Lawrence.

— Source: Watkins Community Museum of History


Tyson Travis 6 years ago

If you look at the old pictures in Dary's History of Lawrence book, you can see the window placement, etc in the first Liberty Hall (1870s) was identical to the Bowersock Opera House, JD didn't demolish it in 1882, he heavily remodeled it, but it only lasted 29 years until it burned in 1911. Congratulations to this Queen of 7th and Mass. in its various incarnations as the Dickinson, Jayhawker, Red Dog Inn, and is now back to its original name and seems to be sound on its 100th birthday.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.