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70 selecttraveler.com S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 Lawrence, Kansas The site of the present-day Eldridge Hotel was formerly part of the region known as the Kansas Territory. Since the mid-1800s, there have been four hotels on this spot, and the colorful stories about their rise and fall are part of local and state history. The present hotel was constructed in the 1920s. But by the 1970s, with the advancement of hotels and motels on interstate highways, the downtown hotel began to fail and was converted to apartments. In 1981, a group of investors bought the property and converted it back to a hotel. Two successful major restorations took place in the 2000s. "It is a wonderful place, out of this world, a jewel in downtown Lawrence, with all of its history," said David Longhurst, the hotel's assistant general manager. "We converted all the common areas to as close to the original lobby and ballrooms as possible. That's everything on the ground f loor, including the f looring, lighting and trim work." The guest rooms, which include 48 two-room suites, have all been modernized and "are really, really nice," said Longhurst, who also has some ghost stories to share. Groups often stay at the historic hotel. There are people who travel to Lawrence for corporate meetings and seminars or who are in a wedding party or attending University of Kansas events of all kinds. "We feel privileged to carry on the spirit of Colonel Eldridge," said Longhurst. Downtown Lawrence, located 25 miles east of Topeka, is a particularly striking spot. Its main thoroughfare, Massachusetts Street, is considered one of the most pleasant main streets in America. There are many beautifully restored buildings with boutiques, restaurants and entertainment districts aplenty in this big university town that adores its college basketball team. www.eldridgehotel.com Wichita, Kansas In 1906, the Simmons Hardware Company built a warehouse in Wichita adjacent to a rail line that it used to ship goods around the region. In 1999, the structure was gutted and converted into the fabulous Hotel at Old Town. The hotel features a four-story atrium and a piano bar that specializes in jazz on weekends. There are 103 guest rooms and 12 one-bedroom suites above. All the rooms have fully equipped kitchens. Courtesy Eldridge Hotel Lawrenceís historic Eldridge Hotel under- went two renovations in the early 2000s.