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The Historic Trails of Douglas County

(unmistakablylawrence.com / Meryl Carver-Allmond)

As a child, I remember driving Kansas back roads at night with my grandparents. It was a black ocean of grass and a sky awash with stars. As I looked out my window, I would imagine what it must have felt like for the people who traveled it before, in covered wagons lurching and creaking across the prairie. Did the boundlessness of it make them feel lonely? Or did they stare up at that gigantic sky with the same wonder I felt?

I didn’t know it then, but two significant wagon trails did pass through Kansas—in fact, both near Lawrence. The Santa Fe Trail went just south of town, through Baldwin City. The Oregon Trail went right over the top of Mount Oread.

And, if you’ve got an afternoon to spare and a good map, you can still travel them both yourself.

Douglas County has several markers and land features, that still exist from both the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. It’s a journey of signposts and fields, mostly, but it’s also a journey of the imagination. It’s one thing to read that wagons crossed the Wakarusa River; it’s another to see the steep banks of the river and think about getting a 2000 pound wagon across. It’s one thing to read that the little trading-post of Brooklyn was the last casualty of Quantrill’s Raid; it’s another to see the blank field and gravestone-like markers, which are all that remain.

Driving the Trails Today

Both trails began in Independence, Missouri, and followed the same route until they split in Gardner, Kansas, just east of the Douglas County line. From there, the Santa Fe Trail went south, while the Oregon Trail went north.

While I’ve hit some of the highlights of both trails below, you’ll definitely want to download a map or pick up a copy of the self-guided driving tour brochure at the Lawrence Visitor Center (402 N. 2nd Street) to get good directions before you head out. Driving each trail should take you about 2 hours, including time for quick stops at the more interesting spots.

The Santa Fe Trail

Beginning at the Eastern side of Douglas County, the first significant milestone on the Santa Fe Trail is the Battle of Black Jack site on Highway 56. While the battle site will also be interesting for Civil War historians, for Santa Fe Trail purposes, you’ll definitely want to see the wagon ruts.

From the parking area at the battle site, follow the easy-to-spot footbridge off into the field, where a sign points to two large indentions that run parallel to each other. The ruts were made by wagons, which traveled as many as four across to ward off attacks.

Next, head towards Baldwin City. Palmyra, which has since been annexed to Baldwin, used to be a booming little community, with several blacksmiths, a hotel, and a well to service travelers. Only the well remains, and, although it has long since been capped off, it’s worth a quick stop.

Several parts of the next section of the trail, which winds through gravel roads, travel right along the original Santa Fe Trail route through a section called “The Narrows”. Wagons used the winding route across the ridge to avoid the getting stuck in the drainage of the rivers on either side (the Kansas to the North and the Marais des Cygnes to the South).

Next, you’ll reach the marker for Brooklyn. Brooklyn was a small village and trading post in the early trail days, until William Quantrill and his men retreated South on August 21, 1863. The raiders burned the entire village, and all that now remains is a sign post and a small trail marker.

From Brooklyn cross Highway 59 to see Willow Springs—also marked by trail marker—which was a good source of water for parched livestock, as well as their human companions.

Last, about 12 miles West of Baldwin City, you can see Simmons Point Stage Station, where travelers could get fresh mules and a night’s lodging. The remains of the Station are still somewhat visible from the road, but they’re on private property so be sure not to trespass. From there, the Santa Fe Trail loosely follows Highway 56 into Osage County and onward to Council Grove.

The Oregon Trail

If you want to follow the Oregon Trail through Douglas County, I recommend stopping first in Eudora. While Eudora was slightly north of the most common trail route, the Eudora Community Museum (720 Main St.; open Tuesday-Saturday, 11-5 p.m.) is a jewel of information.

As he generously pulled out maps and artifacts for me to see, the museum’s director, Ben Terwilliger, emphasized that while we think of the Oregon Trail as being like a highway, it wasn’t just one road. “It wasn’t just one trail. People were constantly trying slightly different routes,” Terwilliger said.

This is true in the area around Eudora, where some people arrived via the Northern “Westport Road” and others took the Southern route that is more commonly marked on maps today.

But, however they arrived, once they got to Eastern Douglas County, all Oregon Trail travelers had to cross the Wakarusa River.

Earlier travelers—including William Quantrill and his band—most commonly crossed at one of several places now lumped together as Bluejacket Crossing. While much of that area is now on private property, one of the ramps used to get to the river is about 800 yards from the current Highway 10 Bridge. While the ramp used to be carved with traveler’s initials, river erosion and construction have washed most of the visible landmarks away.

Later travelers had the advantage of crossing at Blanton’s Bridge, which was built by James Abbott in 1854, in an area later claimed by Napoleon Blanton. While the original bridge is now gone, of course, it was located where what is now Highway 40 crosses the Wakarusa.

If you drive the Bluejacket Route, be sure to look to the Southwest for the Blue Mound, a navigational aid on the trail. (You can’t miss it.) If you opt to follow Highway 40 to Blanton’s Bridge, look southeast as you head up towards the high ground in Lawrence. (The mound is also particularly visible from the top of the hill at 23rd Street and Wakarusa.)

The next significant marker on the Oregon Trail is on top of Mount Oread, in Lawrence. There, a large stone memorial sits on the Southwest side of the Chi Omega Fountain, to mark the path that wagons took over the hill.

From there, the trail loosely joins up with Highway 40 to the edge of Douglas County. While the hilly twists of the highway make for an entertaining drive, wagons would have followed the high ground to avoid expending unnecessary energy going up and down the hills.

Just before you cross into Shawnee County, you’ll reach the unincorporated town of Big Springs. While it is the oldest settlement in Douglas County, its heyday was during the Oregon Trail era. It stopped growing when railroads were built elsewhere—eventually losing its post office in 1903—but the United Brethren Church built in 1856 is still standing now functioning as a Methodist congregation.

Alas, the story of Big Springs is the story of many of the small settlements on both the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. As railroads made travel faster, safer, and cheaper post-Civil War, the trails fell into disuse. While some travelers continued to use the trails into the 1890’s, by the 1870’s travel had largely dried up.

When you’re ready to take your imagination on this historic journey, you will find details about these trails along with a map, by looking under Explore / Itineraries at unmistakablylawrence.com. Or pick up a copy of the self-guided driving tour brochure at the Lawrence Visitor Center (402 N. 2nd Street).

Stephens is proud of our community and its fascinating history. We’re an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know this market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Contact us or call 785-841-4500.

Farms for Every Season

(unmistakablylawrence.com / Meryl Carver-Allmond)

Apples so delicious and red, you would swear they’re from a fairytale. Asparagus poking out of the ground like an alien plant. Lavender so intoxicating you’ll have a relaxed aromatherapy buzz for days after smelling it. Lawrence’s local farms have all of that, plus some of the nicest farmers you’ll ever meet.

Here are a few of our family’s seasonal favorite farms that regularly welcome visitors. For most, their hours (and picking availability, where applicable) vary by season, so be sure to give them a call before you head out. No matter what season you’re here, there’s almost always something wonderful growing at these local farms!

SPRING

Pendleton’s Country Market - The Pendletons’ farm has so much activity going on year-round that it’s hard to pigeonhole it into a season, but, if you’ve never picked your own asparagus before, you simply must head out in the spring. Early in the season—their average first picking date is April 15th—the asparagus stalks emerge from the ground, fully formed, just as you see them at the grocery store. It’s like something from an episode of Star Trek. Despite its otherworldly appearance, though, asparagus is easy and quick to pick, even for little hands. And the taste? Well, that is truly out of this world!

Wohletz Farm Fresh - There is nothing that says “spring” to me more than a fresh-picked, sun-warmed strawberry, and Wohletz is the most reliable pick-your-own spot we’ve found. Depending on the weather, picking typically starts sometime in May, and you can sign up for their email list to get a heads up about when to head out. (Strawberry season in Kansas can be a “blink and you’ll miss it” affair, and, trust me, you don’t want to miss it!)

SUMMER

Washington Creek Lavender - I think heaven must be a little bit like Washington Creek’s lavender drying barn. The sunlight gently beams through the windows; purple lavender buds are artfully scattered across the floor. But the thing you’ll never forget is the smell—it’s heady, ethereal, inebriating. While you can’t pick lavender from the fields, visitors are welcome to walk about and take pictures. If you simply must take some lavender home with you—and you should—you can buy some from their store, which is generally open Wednesday through Sunday in the summer.

The Lawrence Farmers’ Market - While the Lawrence Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday morning from April to November, it is especially vibrant in summer. Grab a breakfast burrito or a muffin, and listen to local musicians play as you stroll from booth to booth. Pick up a rainbow basket of peppers. Enjoy a tomato tasting and take home a few of your favorites. Buy a bottle of local honey to sample the local terroir. Really, there’s no way to do this one wrong.

FALL

Vertacnik Orchard - Dave and Wendy Vertacnik’s apples always feel a bit like something out of a story to me. Juicy, rosy, sweet—they’re the kind of apple you want to present to your favorite teacher in early September, or what you picture a wicked witch conjuring up to tempt a princess. Vertacnik Orchard is small and simple, so it’s perfect for a quick stop or—as we are wont to do—many repeat visits over the course of a season.

Schaake’s Pumpkin Patch - Schaake’s (pronounced shock-E’s) began as a children’s roadside pumpkin stand, and has grown into a whole family affair. From the last weekend in September to Halloween, the entire Schaake family can be found driving tractors for hay rack rides, helping snap pictures in their photo area, and selling cider slushies. Unlike many local pumpkin patches, all of the activities at Schaake’s—other than concessions and the pumpkins you take home—are free, making it fun for grown-ups and children alike.

Chestnut Charlie’s - While you may have seen hulled chestnuts in the store, chestnuts in the wild are a much more interesting nut. Covered with a porcupine-like husk, they’re a beautiful—if somewhat prickly—Autumn jewel. Chestnut Charlie’s is a regular at the Saturday Lawrence Farmers’ Market in the Fall—go try a cone of hot, freshly roasted chestnuts—but they also offer limited pick-your-own opportunities at their farm, usually in early October. They have so many folks who want to come out that they require reservations, so be sure to call ahead (and bring some sturdy gloves) if you want to try your hand at gathering your own chestnuts.

WINTER

Coal Creek Farm Alpacas - If you’re a knitter—or even if you just like knitted hats and scarves—winter is a good time to visit Coal Creek Farm Alpacas. At their on-farm “Simple Living Country Store” (open Saturdays 10-4 all year; Sundays from 1-4 between Thanksgiving and Christmas) you can get all stocked up on yarn, roving, hats, gloves, scarves, and mittens, all made from alpaca fleece. Visitors are also welcome to visit and feed the alpacas even when the store isn’t open (they have an honor box donation system), or join them for a fiber arts class (email for the current schedule).

Davenport Orchards and Winery - If you have a free day and a designated driver you should go on a Douglas County wine tasting tour. Four vineyards (Davenport, Bluejacket Crossing, Crescent Moon, and Haven Pointe) call Lawrence home, and they’re all charming. However, if you can just go to one, it has to be Davenport. Davenport does a wonderful job with the local Norton and Seyval grapes, but where they really shine is their fruit wines. The website description of their rhubarb wine says, “You haven’t lived….”, and I think that might be an understatement. A bottle of their crisp apple wine will get you a permanent invite to any Thanksgiving dinner you bring it to. Go have a taste, but be prepared to buy a case—you’re going to want to take some of this wine home.

Stephens Real Estate is an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know this market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Contact us or call 785-841-4500.

5 Aging-in-place Bathroom Upgrades to Make While You're Younger

(BPT) Is it ever too early to think about aging in place, and making home improvements that will allow you to remain living in the same house well into your golden years? Homeowners in their 60s and 70s are no longer the only Americans investing thought and money into preparing their homes to meet their needs as they grow older.

Wider doorways and open floor plans "can enhance the quality of life in a home even as they make the home safer ... and can be just as beneficial to a homeowner in their 30s or 40s as they are to a homeowner in their 70s or 80s," according to Brad Hunter, HomeAdvisor’s chief economist.

Incorporating universal design principles into your home can facilitate aging-in-place goals, while comfortably addressing the diverse needs of all ages and mobility levels using your home. Features like single-story design, bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor, daylighting through larger windows and skylights, and wider doors and hallways appeal to users of all ages.

However, if you're considering aging-in-place upgrades, making improvements in the bathroom can deliver the greatest return on your investment. The bathroom is often referred to as the most dangerous room in the home for all ages, but especially for seniors with increased risk of falling in showers or bathtubs, or around the toilet area. Here are bathroom improvements to consider:

Replace a step-in bathtub with a walk-in option - Tub manufacturers offer a range of solutions with walk-in bathtubs designed to provide enjoyable bathing with safer accessibility. For example, the American Standard walk-in bathtub includes an outward opening door for easier access, molded seating for added comfort, and convenient grab bars for security.

Shower seating - Adding seating in a shower - whether a removable chair or bench, or built-in options - can allow you to relax in the shower with less fear of falling.

Chair-height toilets - Standard toilets have a bowl height of about 14 to 15 inches. Toilets with higher bowls at 16-1/2 inches, similar to the familiar height of a chair, make it easier for everyone to stand up without a lot of effort.

Pedestal sinks - Standard sinks are about 30 inches high. Installing a higher sink to reduce the amount of bending a user needs to do is another worthwhile bathroom improvement. While you can find vanity sinks set at a higher level, pedestal sinks of about 36 inches high have even more advantages. The slimmer, sleeker profile of a pedestal provides more maneuverable floor space for people with mobility issues or those using wheelchairs or walkers.

Easy-to-use faucets - Twist faucets can be difficult to manage for people with arthritis or decreased flexibility, as well as for small children just learning to use the facilities. Lever-style or single-handle faucets make controlling the water flow much easier for people of all ages and with varying skill levels.

Universal design home improvements can benefit all ages within your home. Making these upgrades at a younger age can prepare your home to meet your needs in your golden years, while allowing you to enjoy the comforts early on.

Contact us or call 785.841.4500 to talk about housing options that are right for you.

Liberty Hall

There’s no shortage of historic buildings with interesting stories in Lawrence, and Liberty Hall is one such place. After being destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt in 1911 in the Beaux-Arts style with an Imperial Roman façade. This impressive structure may be over 100 years old, but is still a thriving business in downtown Lawrence.

LIBERTY HALL as we know it today has hosted a variety of live events ranging from Willie Nelson to Wu Tang Clan, in an intimate setting with a state of the art concert hall sound system. Liberty Hall has been voted Lawrence’s Best Music Venue for three years straight. It has acted as a community-meeting house since 1856, and hosts regular screenings and lectures that promote culture and civility in Lawrence, KS.

LIBERTY HALL VIDEO is located directly on the corner of 7th and Massachusetts Street and boasts an enormous collection of DVD, VHS, and Blu-ray titles for rent. Liberty Hall Video has a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and great prices. Enjoy two-for-one rentals every day, or sign-up for the Uranium Option: unlimited rentals with no late fees for just a small monthly charge.

LA PRIMA TAZZA is a European style coffee house that serves the best in Fair Trade coffee and specialty drinks on Massachusetts Street. They claim it is home to the most experienced and loveable baristas in downtown Lawrence. La Prima Tazza has been voted Best Coffee in Lawrence for three years straight, and is the perfect spot to work on a project, chat with a friend, or contemplate life’s big questions over a hot brew.

LIBERTY HALL CINEMA shows the latest in first-run independent, foreign, and art house films on two screens. Liberty Hall Cinema also offers monthly creative special screenings of classic and soon-to-be-classic films on the big screen. They offer a traditional movie theater concession stand with the addition of beer, wine, and cocktails.

Liberty Hall’s website, libertyhall.net, is where you can find the information above along with Showtimes, Live Event Details and more. Stephens Real Estate appreciates what this locally owned business offers. We are also locally owned and operated; have been since 1978. Contact us when you’re ready to buy or sell your home. Contact us or call 785.841.4500 when you’re ready to buy or sell your home.

North Lawrence

Lawrence lies on both banks of the Kansas River, locally known as “the Kaw.” Each part has its own character. North Lawrence played a part in Lawrence’s pre-Civil War political struggles and is still a distinctive and dynamic community within the city today.

Before the 1903 flood, North Lawrence included four blocks west of what is now N 2nd Street. Nearly one-third of North Lawrence was added to the channel of the Kaw River by that disastrous flood. Flooding is no longer the threat it once was, thanks to the Bowersock Dam.

The Lawrence Visitors Center is located in the historic Union Pacific Train Depot at 402 N. 2nd. Helpful volunteers will give you tips on what to see and do during your visit.

Motorcycle enthusiasts, check out Slowride Roadhouse Bar and Grill. Kansas City Ride Guide magazine gave it a nod in an article about the scenic rides around Lawrence and Douglas County.

North Lawrence can also claim “the most iconic bar in Kansas” according to Thrillist.com. Since 1953, Johnny’s Tavern has been the place to go for hamburgers and “the longest running tap in Lawrence.” A more recent addition to the area is the Levee Café with a nice outdoor dining space when the weather is nice. It’s open for breakfast and lunch Tues. to Sun., and dinner Thurs.-Sat. (We at Stephens highly recommend it. Our own Evan Holt and his wife Mary are the owners/operators of this fun cafe.)

A charming cluster of vintage, antique and home furnishing stores sit near the intersection of 7th and Locusts Streets. Stroll between Tooter and Tillaye’s, BeBe’s Cottage, Amy’s Attic, and The Art House.

North Lawrence has a great jogging, mountain bike, walking and dog-walk trail, recognized in Outside Magazine as one of the best in Kansas. The Lawrence River Trail is located on the north bank of the river and runs along the top of the levee on the outskirts of town. This crushed stone 9 mile trail offers views of nearby farmland and the river as well as downtown Lawrence, on the opposite bank.

If it’s been a while since you crossed the bridge for a visit to North Lawrence, we recommend you explore that area again. And when you’re ready to buy or sell a home we recommend you give Stephens Real Estate a call. Our agents know the Lawrence market and have the experience and the connections to help you find the home that’s right for you. Call Stephens Real Estate at 785.841.4500 or Contact Us.

Spencer Museum of Art

Life in close proximity to the University of Kansas has its perks, one of which is access to The Spencer Museum of Art. The only comprehensive art museum in the state of Kansas, its diverse collection houses more than 45,000 art objects and works of cultural significance, and is toured by more than 100,000 visitors each year. One of those visitors had this to say on Trip Advisor: “KU’s Best Kept Secret. This small museum of art is a rare treasure in the heart of mid-America.” And we wholeheartedly agree.

The University of Kansas Museum of Art, housed in Spooner Hall, was established in 1928 based on a collection of nearly 7500 art objects offered to KU by Kansas City art collector Sallie Casey Thayer. Over the years the collection has continued to grow thanks to the generosity of benefactors and the expertise of curators.

The museum eventually outgrew its quarters in Spooner Hall. Mrs. Helen Foresman Spencer, a KC collector and patron of the arts, made a gift of $4.6 million to fund the construction of a new museum. The resulting building houses the Spencer Museum of Art, the Murphy Library of Art and Architecture, and the Kress Foundation Department of Art History.

The collection expanded significantly in 2007 when the Spencer Museum of Art assumed stewardship of approximately 8,500 ethnographic objects from the former University of Kansas Museum of Anthropology.

The Museum closed to the public in April of 2015 for the first major renovation since the building’s opening. The transformation includes an enlarged, light-filled lobby with a new flexible gathering space; expanded and enhanced teaching and learning spaces; increased storage for works on paper; improved access through an in-gallery elevator and staircase; and a two-story, floor-to-ceiling window overlooking historic Marvin Grove.

Saralyn Reece Hardy, Museum Director, invites you to, “Experience our transformed galleries, explore our redesigned website, or participate in our programs. However you choose to connect with us, astonishing possibilities await you.” Visitors seem to concur, one recently sharing this on Trip Advisor: “Art lovers should stop here! An interesting collection and well worth a visit. I am guessing way too many people in the area do not realize what a gem they have.”

We encourage you to plan your own visit to the Spencer very soon. Admission is free and the galleries are open daily except Monday. Visit their website, www.spencerart.ku.edu, for exact hours and more information.

Content provided by www.spencerart.ku.edu
Image courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas

South Lawrence

South Lawrence is home to residential neighborhoods and its two main thoroughfares, Iowa Street and 23rd Street offer lots of dining and shopping options. It also offers some great options for getting outdoors and discovering nature.

Four miles from the City of Lawrence you’ll find Clinton State Park, 1500-acres on the northeast shore of Clinton Reservoir. It offers a nice balance between recreational areas and natural areas. Native wildlife, wildflowers and prairie grasses are abundant. There’s fishing, boating and water sports, biking/walking and horseback riding trails, campgrounds and cabins. Learn more at Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

The Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum is located in Bloomington Park East at Clinton Lake just outside of Lawrence, Kansas. The museum documents the history of this region which was part of the Underground Railroad as well as a hotbed of abolitionism. Housed here are a variety of historical records and objects as well as genealogical records and welcomes research requests.

One of the most diverse habitats in Kansas, the Baker Wetlands encompasses 927 acres of rich, natural wildlife. Students, faculty, and nature lovers have identified 278 species of birds, 98 other vertebrate species, and 487 plant species at the Wetlands — and these counts grow with each adventure. The Baker Wetlands Discovery Center is a large space with panoramic views out over the boardwalk. The center has exhibits on the importance of the wetlands, how they were restored and how they’re being taken care of now. The center also includes spotting scopes, an observatory tower, a research lab, and a classroom space. The Discovery Center at 1365 N 1250 Road is open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and 1 – 4 p.m. on Sunday.

We’ve mentioned this one in another recent article, but it is a wonderful part of South Lawrence and should not be missed. You will find educational and outdoor fun at the Prairie Park Nature Center at 2730 Harper Street. The nature center features prairie, woodlands and wetlands and the five acre Mary’s Lake, just a short walk from the Nature Center. There are walking trails for bird watchers, wildlife enthusiasts and those just looking for a quiet stroll outdoors. You may a wide variety of Kansas native wildlife, including beavers, deer, bobcats and birds of prey.

The Nature Center preserve and education building features natural habitat dioramas, displays and an area designated for butterfly habitat. There you can see live animals and birds of prey, including owls, hawks, falcons and Kansa, the Bald Eagle.

Stephens Real Estate is proud of the great community in which we live. If you’re ready to buy or sell your home, contact us. We’re ready to help. 785.841.4500

For the kiddos

 

Safe streets, welcoming venues, clean conditions, and exciting events all make for ideal family fun. But Lawrence businesses and public venues know that kiddos are more than fun-seekers; heck, they’ll soon be the ones writing up our reviews online and telling us where or not the city still has what it takes. So bring it on, Gen YOLO and kids of all ages. We’ve got the family covered. Start with the Calendar of Events at unmistakablylawrence.com. It’s a great resource to stay up on all of the activities in town.

The University of Kansas Natural History Museum features exhibits including live animals, insects, the famous Panorama and displays of fossils and Kansas wildlife. Participate in Museum Scavenger hunts, a museum checklist, summer camps and special events.

The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department oversees 54 parks. Popular among them are South Park – including the wading pool for children 6 and under, Buford Watson Park, the Youth Sports Complex, Centennial Park and Clinton Lake Park.

Prairie Park Nature Center, part of Lawrence Parks & Recreation, incorporates wetlands, woodlands, and prairie habitats. The education building features natural habitat dioramas, displays and live animals. Mary’s Lake is just a short walk and is open for public fishing. Visitors may see native KS wildlife including beavers, deer, bobcats and birds of prey. Entry is free.

Lawrence Public Library is a kid-friendly spot where silence is not required. The kids’ area includes a Lego table, reading nooks and lots of fun programs. The Teen Zone has video games and social area. Reserve the recording studio to capture your own tunes or words. The fiction loop is a great place to relax and read.

Departing from Baldwin City, the Midland Railway trains feature a more than 20-mile round trip ride on vintage railway equipment. The trains travel through the scenic Eastern Kansas farmlands and woods. Their calendar includes special events such as “A Day Out with Thomas,” an Easter egg ride and hunt, and a Santa ride.

Lawrence also offers two great aquatic centers, bowling, pet stores aplenty, laser tag, and bounce houses ready to entertain the kiddos. Lawrence is a kid-friendly, great-place-to-raise-a-family town, and we’re happy to call it home.

When you’re ready to buy or sell your home, contact us or call 785.841.4500. We’re ready to help. 

Lawrence will surprise and please you with all the options for arts and culture

Photo by John Clayton.

The arts have been essential to this town since some of the first settlers arrived, packing brass instruments to form a community band. From visual to experimental, Lawrence continues to back the arts because this town knows that what’s good for the arts is good for the community. Come enjoy this rich connection to a flourishing arts environment.

Start with the Lawrence Arts Center, just a block from Massachusetts Street. Here you’ll find 20 to 25 art exhibitions a year. The best in contemporary art is also offered through art talks, live performances and more. Locals of all ages enjoy the classes for dance, printmaking, jewelry, ceramics and arts-based pre-school education. Artists-in-Residence in ceramics and printmaking bring new perspective with their shows and classes, while internationally known artists add a richness that reflects the Lawrence community.

Spencer Museum of Art, located on the University of Kansas campus, has changing exhibits as well as seven galleries displaying selections from the permanent collection of more than 45,000 works of art. Special exhibitions drawn from the collection or touring from other museums are displayed in four additional galleries. The collection spans the history of European, North American, and East Asian art.

The Lied Center of Kansas, located on the west side of the University of Kansas campus, has a busy calendar of events that range from Broadway productions and world-class artistic performances to KU School of Music and the KU Department of Dance productions and recitals of budding artists. The Lied Center serves KU, its students, the Lawrence community and greater Kansas as a catalyst for the arts, creativity and engagement.

Theatre Lawrence works with volunteers to create and deliver extraordinary theatre and educational programs that engage community members of all ages and backgrounds. Theatre Lawrence hosts a season of performances, concerts series, art exhibits and more.

The arts community comes together every month to offer special exhibits, receptions, amazing artwork and more on the last Friday of every month. Final Fridays include activities for kids, exhibitions designed to challenge adults, music, dance and theater for all ages.

This overview just taps the surface of what Lawrence has to offer if you’re looking for arts and culture. Come to Lawrence ready to play. And when you’re ready to buy or sell your home, we’re ready to help. Call Stephens Real Estate at 785.841.4500 or Contact Us.

Historic Union Pacific Depot and Lawrence Visitor Information Center

Whether you’re visiting Lawrence for the first time or you’ve lived here for years, stop by the historic Union Pacific train depot and Lawrence Visitor Center. Located at 402 N. 2nd Street, in North Lawrence, across the Kansas River Bridge from Downtown Lawrence, the center is open Monday through Saturday – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friendly volunteers are ready to help you make a plan to explore Lawrence.

From driving directions to dining options, self-guided tour brochures to local hiking and biking maps, you’ll find it here. Need info on KU? Or a John Brown of Kansas historic tour brochure? The Visitor Center has it!

Learn a little of Lawrence’s volatile pre-Civil War history, while you’re there. View the free, 25-minute docudrama, “Lawrence: Free State Fortress.” This film about Lawrence’s turbulent beginnings and Quantrill’s Raid is shown on weekends every hour, on the hour, and weekdays by request. Copies of the film are available for purchase.

And the depot has a history of its own. During its post-Civil War rebuilding, one of Lawrence's main goals was to establish itself as the railroad hub of the Midwest. Union Pacific spent $40,000 buying lots in North Lawrence and announced that it would build a new passenger depot. The 1889 building design blends proportions and forms of French Vernacular architecture with the robust masonry exterior of the Richardsonian Romanesque.

For townspeople, the depot instantly became the hub of community activity. It was the point of departure and return for soldiers during World War I and World War II. The years took their toll on the depot and freight service was discontinued in 1984. However, Union Pacific and the City of Lawrence aggressively fought against plans to tear down the depot.

The building was saved, restored and re-opened as the Lawrence Visitor Information Center and public meeting facility in 1996. Over 20 years later this historic depot still serves visitors and residents of Lawrence. Come visit, take a look at the beautiful gardens with sculptures by local artists, and find out how you can explore Lawrence.

And when you’re ready to buy or sell your home, contact Stephens Real Estate. Our agents know the Lawrence market and are ready to help you find your perfect home in your perfect neighborhood. Call Stephens Real Estate at 785.841.4500 or Contact Us.

A Strong History

When Bob Stephens founded Stephens Real Estate in May of 1978, his vision was simple: Stay true to your independence, and true to your community. Almost 40 years later, from those humble beginnings in the old Douglas County Bank building on Kentucky Street with 28 sales associates and a small support staff, his vision remains intact. We’ve grown larger, to be sure, but we’ve never lost our independence or our commitment to Lawrence and the surrounding area.

That commitment isn’t just in real estate. From day one to the present day, we’ve been dedicated to giving back to Douglas County through service and volunteerism. Our community involvement includes our support of United Way of Douglas County, The Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Club of Douglas County, Just Food, American Red Cross, Heartland Community Health Center, Go Red For Women, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Toys For Tots and many more. In addition, we are a community partner with Sunset Hill Elementary School.

Moving Forward

Like Bob Stephens, when our current owners Pat McCandless and Chris Earl bought the company in 2013 they had a simple vision: Never lose sight of the values that led to our success. Stephens Real Estate is still independent, still full service, and still linked to our community through roots that run decades deep. That means our agents and support team are committed to helping our clients live out their personal dreams right here in our hometown.

We’ve been synonymous with residential real estate for almost 40 years but there was a day when we were just as well known for our commercial business. Well we’re proud to say we’re back in the commercial game. Big time. Whether it’s a high-traffic spot or just a quiet little corner, we have the local knowledge to deliver just what you’re looking for.

We’re Different

Stephens Real Estate is much more than a conglomeration of talented and knowledgeable Realtors. Our team, unlike some companies, includes experienced transaction coordinators, a marketing coordinator, and a relocation coordinator. We are positioned to give assistance where you need it, when you need it, without the hassle and headache of running around trying to find the right person to talk to. Working alongside our outstanding group of agents, this dedicated support staff will provide you with expert service and guidance through the entire buying or selling process - from start to finish. When you hire a Stephens Agent you get the skills and expertise of the entire Stephens Real Estate Team.

One of the true benefits of being a locally owned and operated company is knowing the right community partners to help with your transaction. At Stephens we collaborate with local lenders, title insurance companies, appraisers and inspectors to provide you with the assistance you need. We value the experience of these local experts who provide an unbiased, objective analysis for our clients. Stephens Real Estate, with offices in Lawrence and Baldwin City, is your locally owned, independent real estate resource. We’re committed to serving you when you’re ready to buy or sell. Call Stephens Real Estate at 785.841.4500 or Contact Us.

Stephens Real Estate, Inc.
2701 W. Sixth Street
Lawrence, KS 66049

Phone: 785-841-4500
Toll-Free: 1-800-875-4315