Eldridge Hotel - History & Hauntings
Prior to the
in the midst of the vicious
Missouri/Kansas Border War and this old hotel was burned down twice in
the mid 1800s.
The original hotel, called
the Free State Hotel, was built in 1855 by settlers from the New England
Emigrant Aid Society. It was named the Free State Hotel to make
clear the intent of those early settlers -- which was that
should come into the Union as a free state. The Free State Hotel was
intended as temporary quarters for those settlers waiting for their homes
to be built.
January 3, 1855, Colonel Shalor Eldridge arrived in Kansas City from
New England where he purchased the American House, which General
Pomeroy had bought for the Emigrant Aid Society.
This house was
the headquarters of the
Free-State men. In early 1856, Shalor leased the Free State Hotel at
equipping it as a first-class hotel.
But, just months later on
May 21, 1856 the hotel was attacked and destroyed by Sheriff Samuel J.
his posse. Jones, leading a group of pro-slavery forces, aimed a
cannon at the hotel and burnt it to the ground.
The historic Eldridge Hotel
was burned twice
Bleeding Kansas days. It has been rebuilt
and renovated several times and continues to serve guests
today. Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.
In 1857, Colonel
Eldridge, along with his brothers Edsin, Thomas and James re-erected
the hotel at a cost of $80,000, vowing that it would be rebuilt again
if it was destroyed.
statement was a prediction, as the hotel was again destroyed in
1863 when it was attacked by
Quantrill and his raiders.
William Clarke Quantrill,
an Ohio native, had joined the Confederate forces several years
prior but was unhappy with their reluctance in aggressively
prosecuting Union troops. Therefore, the young man took it upon
himself to take a more aggressive course with his own-guerilla
In 1862, Quantrill began his infamous raiding career in western
Missouri and then across the border into
by plundering the towns of Olathe, Spring Hill and Shawnee. His
raids gained the attention of other desperados.
By 1863, Quantrill
recruited others who joined his company including "Bloody” Bill Anderson
and the James
brothers. In the summer of 1863 they set their sites on
the site of their most infamous destruction.
Early on the morning of
August 21, 1863, Quantrill
along with his murderous force of about 400, descended on the still
sleeping town of
Incensed by the
Free-State headquarters town,
set out on his revenge against the
community. In this carefully orchestrated early morning raid he and his
band, in four terrible hours, turned the town into a bloody and blazing
inferno unparallel in its brutality. Quantrill
and his bushwhacker mob of raiders began their reign of terror at 5:00
a.m., looting and burning as they went, bent on total destruction of the
town, then less than 3,000 residents. By the time it was over, they
had killed approximately 180 men and boys, and left
nothing more than smoldering ruins.
The proud City of
was determined to rebuild and quickly adopted the motto "from ashes to
immortality.” Using an original cornerstone from the burned hotel, Colonel
Eldridge promptly rebuilt the hotel, which opened again in 1865 with a new
name -- The Hotel Eldridge.
In 1867, Colonel Eldridge
built the Broadway House in Kansas City, now known as the Coates house. In
1877, he built the Eldridge house at
Coffeyville and the next year the
Otis House in
Atchison. Colonel Eldridge died January 16, 1899 in
at the age of 82.
For the next several
decades the Eldridge Hotel stood as one of the finest hotels west of the
Mississippi River and continued to play an important role in the early
and the State of Kansas. But by 1925, the hotel had begun to deteriorate, when a group of
business leaders decided that due to the hotel’s importance to the city,
that it should be torn down and rebuilt to its former dignity and
elegance. The community stepped forth to insure the success of the
undertaking and the hotel again displayed its former splendor.
However, by the 1960’s it
had again began to deteriorate and trends had changed. Downtown
hotels were no longer popular, given over to the many motels springing up
on the outskirts of town. Finally, the old hotel closed its doors on
July 1, 1970 and was converted into apartments.
However, in 1985, a new
group of investors again wanted to restore the old hotel to its former
splendor and the City of
supported the project by committing two million dollars to match the one
million raised by private investors. The top four floors of the
hotel were completely rebuilt and converted into 48 two room luxury suites
and the lobby was restored to its original elegance.
It is no surprise with its
rich history that the hotel continues to host some ghostly spirits.
The fifth floor is said to
contain a portal to the spirit world – especially room 506. In this
room witnesses have reported breath marks on recently cleaned mirrors,
doors opening and shutting on their own, and lights turning on and off by
Others report cold spots
throughout the old hotel. Some guests have even encountered
apparitions on the fifth floor and an "elevator ghost” likes to open and
close the elevator doors on the fifth floor. Several photographers
have also mentioned having inexplicable technical difficulties with their
cameras when near the elevator.
The hotel is
located at the corner of Massachusetts and 7th streets in
of America, updated May, 2017.