Some spirits just find it hard to leave Lawrence. Who can blame them?
With a pre-Civil War history as fiery and volatile as ours, Lawrence has more than a few ghosts and haunts. In fact, Lawrence’s history of urban legends is exactly why Eric Kripke, creator of the cult drama, Supernatural, chose Lawrence as the birthplace of evil fighting adventurers, Sam and Dean Winchester. (We see you, Supernatural fans).
Colonel Shalor Eldridge rebuilt the Eldridge hotel TWICE! The original Free State Hotel was attacked and burned in 1856, rebuilt then burned to the ground again during Quantrill’s Raid in 1863. Col. Eldridge has been making his presence felt at The Eldridge since his death, especially in room 506 which holds one of the original building’s cornerstones. (Some say the cornerstone is a portal to the spirit world.) Be sure to check out the picture at the front desk and decide for yourself if that’s an apparition you see in the elevator (another hot spot for paranormal activity). According to legend, the Colonel’s chair has been sitting in storage, unmoved for years… but it never collects dust!
Merchants Pub & Plate
The building that is home to one of Lawrence’s classiest restaurants was originally built as Merchant’s National Bank in 1872. The staircase in the restaurant has been the place staff and diners have reported feeling an eerie presence and some report seeing an apparition on the steps.
Sigma Nu Fraternity
The Victorian mansion of former Kansas governor, William Stubbs, is now the home to the University of Kansas’ chapter of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. Frat members throughout the decades have reported creepy encounters with a female spirit. Legend has it Governor Stubbs servant and rumored mistress, Virginia, hung herself in the residence and is the source of these haunts. The paranormal encounters include sightings of a ghostly female shape, flickering lights and the sounds of footsteps and slamming doors.
Quantrill’s Raid of 1863 left 200 dead and the town in flames. Pioneer Cemetery was the repository of a mass grave on that fateful day. A few ghosts still linger there.
Perhaps the most terrifying of Lawrence area supernatural legends is that of the Stull Cemetery in Stull, KS (about 10 miles west of Lawrence). The basement of the abandoned church that stood on the property until 2002 has been said to be a “gateway to hell.” Legend tells us that even when the roof of the crumbling church was no longer, it would never rain inside and glass bottles thrown against the church walls would not shatter. The church is no longer standing – it was mysteriously torn down one night in 2002. The legend of the Stull Cemetery has made its way into pop culture through music, film, and television. Today, signs on the gates around the cemetery read “no trespassing.” Unfortunately, the cemetery has seen vandalism over the years and Stull residents aren’t too keen on outsiders. If you do decide to visit, only explore the cemetery during times that the gates are open. When the cemetery is closed, trespassing could bring a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
Want a guided ghost tour of Lawrence? Check out Ghost Tours of Kansas.
For a more pastoral view, pick up a copy of our self-guided tour “Historic Cemeteries Tour of Lawrence” at the Lawrence Visitors Information Center, 402 N. 2nd Street.