Old Mass: A Bit of History














Since Liberty Hall celebrated its 100th birthday last week, it only seems appropriate to share a blip of history regarding Massachusetts Street, and Lawrence KS, generally.

The above photo (via kansas.com) of what is now Massachusetts Street was taken in 1867, a year after The University of Kansas opened. Four years after this photo was taken, the Lawrence Street Railway Company laid tracks down the middle of Mass St, and a streetcar named “Progress” supposedly connected the downtown area with the Kansas Pacific Railroad depot north of the Kansas River.

Mass St circa 1910

Mass St 1939

In 1903, Lawrence received a special visits from Theodore Roosevelt when he dedicated a fountain that was originally located at 9th and New Hampshire. This same fountain can now be found in South Park, next to the large gazebo.

During the early 1900s, the railway system was continuously updated and extended, connecting neighborhoods to downtown and beyond. In 1933, the last streetcars were taken off the tracks and a motor bus system took over, offering rides for 10 cents.

Jump to the 1980s, Lawrence received some exciting national attention due to the television movie, The Day After, which was partially filmed in Lawrence with the help of many locals.

A few years later, the citizens of Lawrence likely let out a hoot and holler when Lawrence welcomed Free State Brewing Company to Mass St in 1989. At this point in time, it was the first legal brewery to open in Kansas in over 100 years!

A few extra Mass facts: Massachusetts Street runs north and south in Lawrence, and splits the city into east and west. It was given its name thanks to the original settlers coming in from Massachusetts.

We’ll keep it short and sweet this time, but look for a proper (meatier) update in the future. Mass Street is a special place, and its had many, many changes over the years. If you have any fun facts to add, please share them in the comments section below!

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