In the early hours of August 21st, 1863, Quantrill and his raiders burned a majority of Lawrence, including our building, to the ground. The raid left nearly 200 men and boys dead, and the young town of Lawrence, Kansas in smoldering shambles. We are particularly honored to occupy this space at 804 Massachusetts as it has a distinct and inspiring story of resurrection. The Ridenour Baker building, as it is named after its founders, was among the very first to rebuild-- so swiftly that business resumed within a week of the attack. A passage from “A History of Lawrence, Kansas: From the First Settlement to the Close of the Rebellion” tells the story best...
“One of the first to rebuild was the grocery firm of Ridenour & Baker. They had lost their building and a heavy stock of goods. Mr. Ridenour’s home was burned and all in it. Mr. Baker was so severely wounded that he lay lingering between life and death. In spite of all this, work was commenced on a new building, and business resumed in a small way, before a week had passed. In clearing away the ruins, the barrows blazed with the live embers as the workmen wheeled the out from the old cellar. In the line of unconquerable pluck the equal of this would be hard to find.”
We're humbled by the heroism and true grit that rebuilt this beautiful place, and we're proud to call the Ridenour Baker building our home.
Photo provided by The Watkins Museum of History
Inspired by a fiery past, this piece by James Ehlers celebrates the spirit of the Ridenour Baker building throughout its 157 year history. Ablaze in 1863, 1904, and 1997-- today we still call it home.