Douglas County Museums and Historic Sites

Old Castle Museum, Baldwin, Kansas courtesy Baker University.

Old Castle Museum, Baldwin, Kansas courtesy of Baker University.


Baldwin City:

Old Castle Museum Complex – First home of Baker University, Kansas‘ oldest 4-year college. It was built in 1857-58 and now exhibits of Baker University and the Santa Fe Trail. Also on the Complex grounds is the Palmyra Post Office and the Kibbee Cabin. 515 5th Street, Baldwin City, Kansas 66006, 785-594-680


Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum – This small museum features two permanent exhibits, “The Underground Railroad in Douglas County” and “The First 20 Years,” highlighting the early history of Clinton Lake. Other temporary exhibits are also featured. Call to schedule tour. Bloomington Park, Lawrence, Kansas 66044, 785-748-0800.


Haskell Cultural Center & Museum – Features exhibits from the university’s archival and artifact collections and provides a learning center to understand more about Haskell University’s diverse history. A gallery exhibits student and American Indian artwork, and the grounds include a Veterans memorial and amphitheater. Haskell Indian Nations University, 155 Indian Avenue, 785-749-8470.

Museum of Anthropology – Focusing on people from around the world, the museum’s extensive collections, which have accumulated since the turn of the century, now include nearly two million items. Spooner Hall, 1430 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, Kansas  66045, 785-864-4245.

Natural History Museum – The museum’s exhibits focus on the biological diversity, past and present, of Kansas and the Great Plains. Located in Dyche Hall, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd, 785-864-4450.

Spencer Museum of Art – Located on the University of Kansas campus, the museum houses an internationally-known collection numbering nearly 36,000 artworks and artifacts in all media. 1301 Mississippi St., University of Kansas, 785-864-4710

Watkins Community Museum of History – Located in the 1880’s Lawrence City Hall Building, the museum houses exhibits and artifacts of the area’s history, including the history of Lawrence and Douglas County dating back 300 million years. Focus on Lawrence as an 1850s Free State fortress, early pioneers, and even a display on basketball history. 1047 Massachusetts Street, 785-841-4109


The Constitutional Hall in Lecompton, Kansas still stands today by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The Constitutional Hall in Lecompton, Kansas, still stands today by Kathy Alexander.

Constitution Hall State Historic Site – A National Landmark and Kansas Historic Site, Constitution Hall was built in 1856 to house the official Kansas Territorial government, at that time, a pro-slavery group. Today it displays two floors of pre-Civil War exhibits and artifacts. 315 Elmore Street, 785-887-6520.

Territorial Capital Museum – Lane University – This building was started with an appropriation to become the capital of Kansas but was never finished. Later, it was finished as Lane University. Today, it contains three floors of artifacts, including information from Pre-Civil War Kansas, maps, books, documents, and Lane University period furnishings and memorabilia. 609 E. Woodson, 785-887-6285 or 785-887-6148.

Historic Sites:


Black Jack Battlefield – The site of the Battle of Black Jack where John Brown led his militia against a pro-slavery force on June 2, 1856. This armed clash is considered by many to have been the first battle of the American Civil War. Located on U.S. Route 56 and County Road 2000, three miles east of Baldwin City.

Case Hall – Baker University’s first library building was completed in 1907 by the Carnegie Foundation. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Parmenter Hall – With its distinguishing tower, it was the first building built on the Baker University campus. The cornerstone was laid in June 1866, but lack of financing delayed completion until 1881, although Baker University moved in 1871. Located at Eighth and Dearborn.

Palmyra Post Office – The old Palmyra Post Office and Blood’s Grocery (1857-1862) served travelers on the Santa Fe Trail and the community of Palmyra before Baldwin City absorbed the town.

Robert Hall Pearson Farm – On a rise overlooking the Battle of Black Jack site is a farmhouse built by Robert Hall Pearson in the 1880s. Pearson fought beside John Brown in the skirmish. Located at 163 E. 2000 Rd.

Santa Fe Depot – Built in 1906 to serve the Leavenworth, Lawrence, & Fort Gibson Railroad, the depot is on the National Register of Historic Places. It belongs to the Santa Fe Historical Society. Train rides are available. 1601 High St.

Santa Fe Trail – Douglas County Trail Segments – Located off U.S. Route 56, 2.5 miles east of Baldwin City.

Stoebener Barn – Old stone barn about eight miles west of Baldwin City in the vicinity of the old townsite of Worden.


Clinton School District 25 – Originally built as a school, this historic building now serves as the Clinton Town Hall. Located at 1180 N. 604 East Road.

Barber School Number 82 – In 1871, the District Board purchased 1½ acres for a one-room schoolhouse. It was named after Thomas W. Barber, who was Kansas’ first martyr in the days of Bleeding Kansas. It is located in Clinton Lake State Park.


Carnegie Building – Built in 1904, this building is one of Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic contributions to the growth of cultural opportunities for rural communities. The building was utilized as a library until 1972, when it became home to the Lawrence Arts Center until 2002. Since that time, it has sadly sat empty, apparently the problem of local politics’ inability to decide the proper use of the building. The beautiful building is located at 9th and Vermont.

Eldridge Hotel, Lawrence, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Eldridge Hotel, Lawrence, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Eldridge Hotel – Pro-slavery attacks burned the Eldridge Hotel to the ground twice during the years of Bleeding Kansas. In the 1863 Lawrence Massacre, the first goal of Quantrill’s raiders was to capture the Eldridge House. Today, the Eldridge Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and continues to provide lodging. 701 Massachusetts St., 785-749-5011.

Haskell Indian Nations University – This university first opened its doors in 1884 as the United States Indian Industrial Training School. Haskell’s 320-acre campus contains 12 sites listed in the National Register of Historic Landmarks. A self-guided tour brochure can be obtained at the Convention and Visitors Bureau located in the Depot in north Lawrence, 402 N. 2nd Street, 888-865-4499.

Historic Homes Tour – Lawrence is filled with dozens of homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Historic District includes 126 homes, and a self-guided tour brochure can be obtained at the Convention and Visitors Bureau located in the Depot in north Lawrence, 402 N. 2nd Street, 888-865-4499.

Historic Cemeteries Tour – Lawrence’s five historic cemeteries provide a fascinating glimpse into the town’s Free-State struggle, Civil War period, and settlement days. The self-guided tour takes you to a home place burial site, a town settlement cemetery, an ethnic and institutional burial site at Haskell Indian Nations University, a memorial park, and a rural cemetery. A self-guided tour brochure can be obtained at the Convention and Visitors Bureau located in the Depot in north Lawrence, 402 N. 2nd Street, 888-865-4499.

Hobbs Park Memorial – A new public monument that builds upon the community’s abolitionist roots. It is situated in an 1860s masonry dwelling, constructed after the Lawrence Massacre in 1863. Located in Hobbs Park at 11th and Delaware Streets.

Lawrence, Kansas Depot by Kathy Alexander.

Lawrence, Kansas Depot by Kathy Alexander.

Lawrence Depot and Visitors Center – Built in 1889 by the Union Pacific Railroad, the historic depot now houses Lawrence’s Visitor Information Center and public meeting facility. 402 N. 2nd Street, 888-865-4499.

Old Douglas County Courthouse – This building was built of native limestone in 1904 and was saved from demolition in the 1960s when a modern courthouse was built. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the county currently uses it. Located at the southeastern corner of Massachusetts and 11th Streets in Lawrence.

Opera House/Liberty Hall – Built in 1911 as the Bowersock Opera House after a fire destroyed the original Liberty Hall. It was renovated in the 1980s; it is now home to a fine arts theatre and live music venue. 644 Massachusetts, 785-749-1972

University of Kansas – Several campus buildings are listed on the National Register, including Spooner Hall, Strong Hall, Green Hall, and Dyche Hall.

Old Lawrence Post Office – Now housing the Lawrence Journal-World, located at 645 New Hampshire.


Fort Titus, Lecompton, Kansas by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Fort Titus, Lecompton, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Territorial Democratic HeadquartersHeadquarters of the Democratic Party during the Kansas Territorial period (1854-61.) Bald Eagle River View Park, E. 2nd Street.

Radical United Brethren Church – In 1889, the General Conference of the United Brethern Church voted to allow church members to belong to secret orders, providing insurance for the members. This caused a break up in the church, and the Radical United Brethren Church was built in 1906. It now serves as a community building.

Fort Titus Cabin – Site of the Battle of Fort Titus, the Lecompton Historical Society, has constructed a representation of Henry Titus’ cabin that sits 100 yards southeast of the Territorial Capital Museum.


Barnes Apple Barn – Constructed around 1857, the Barnes Apple Barn was built for processing grapes, apples, and pears from the Vinland Nursery and Fruit Farm. It is located at 714 E 1728 Rd.

Coal Creek Library – Still operating today, this library is one of the oldest libraries west of the Mississippi River, operating since 1859.

Grange Hall – Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Junction of Oak and Main Streets.

Vinland Fair Association Fairgrounds – Historic fairgrounds exhibit building.

Vinland Presbyterian Church – 697 E. 1725 Rd.


Compiled and edited by Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated February 2022.