Slowly strolling down Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, I realized this area is way more than just a place to hang out with friends, dine at a fun restaurant or shop for trendy clothing and specialty foods. Taking the time to look, really look, at the uniqueness of Mass Street with fresh eyes, I discovered some amazing attributes related to art, culture and heritage that I never before noticed.[[endteaser]] Here is a Top 10 list of surprising elements I found, in no particular order:

  1. A peaceful Japanese Friendship Garden honoring Lawrence’s sister city, Hiratsuka, Japan.
  2. The striking Watkins Community Museum of History, a classic example of Romanesque architecture.
  3. Artfully painted benches, stained glass windows, and wonderful architectural features inside another Romanesque structure, the Douglas County Courthouse.
  4. An amazing art gallery on the second floor of Signs of Life, a bookstore and coffee shop where a pianist was performing while I browsed.
  5. The remarkable work of Kansans Steve Coburn and Alan Brummell at the Phoenix Gallery.
  6. Bronze plaques marking the history of the buildings, such as the one on the House Building, the only structure to survive Quantrill’s Raid in 1863.
  7. Businesses with artistically painted entryways.
  8. A guitarist seated on the sidewalk sharing his love of music.
  9. Intricate iron work and stone work on the second level of the historic buildings.
  10. Several creative sculptures adorning the sidewalks.

Slow down and look, really look, at what’s around you in Lawrence or your own community. What did you discover that surprised you?


Cecilia Harris is a professional freelance writer from Abilene who enjoys discovering fascinating attractions, events and people that reflect the arts, culture and heritage found in Kansas. She has been a longtime regular contributor to KANSAS! magazine and also has written for such publications as Midwest Living, Sunflower Living, Kansas Heritage and The Greyhound Review to inspire others to explore and appreciate her home state. She also has authored two books, “Historic Homes of Abilene” and “Abilene’s Carousel.”