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This stone building dates back to 1862 and has connections to the history of Bleeding Kansas, the Jayhawk, and campus politics. It began with James H. Lane, prominent abolitionist and Kansas senator, who built a stone stable at the highest point on his property. Though it now houses historical documents instead of horses as an Annex to the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies, the structure has maintained an intimate connection to both its origin and the university throughout each chapter of its history.

The Annex came by the nickname “The Shack” during the period from 1975 to 2010 when it housed the KU student radio station KJHK (as the garage door artwork depicts).


Though the Annex as undergone many refurbishments over the years, its skeletal structure has held up reliably since its construction in 1862.

View from sidewalk connecting to Max Kade Center

Created by Lawrence artist Andy Foat, this 21x28-inch bronze plaque commemorates the Max Kade Annex's origin and connection to infamous abolitionist and Kansas senator James Henry Lane. The plaque reads: "James H. Lane played a leading role in the struggle for a slave-free Kansas and first popularized the Kansas 'Jayhawk.' Rallying free-state men in 1857, Lane invoked a fierce bird of prey: 'As the Irish Jayhawk with a shrill cry announces its presence to its victims, so must you notify the proslavery hell-hounds to clear out, or vengeance will overtake them! Jayhawks remember, 'Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord," but we are his agents!' // Elected one of the first senators of Kansas as the Civil War began, Lane created the Frontier Guard of Kansas volunteers to protect president Lincoln in the White House. As a general, he led controversial attacks in Missouri, such as the burning of Osceola. Lane also formed the first African-American regiment to fight and be accepted into federal service. // In 1862, Lane had a stable built on the highest point of his property. Later owners were Wesley H. Duncan, Olin Templin, and Mervin T. Sudler. From 1975 to 2010, it was home to student radio station KJHR; in 2012 it became the Max Kade Annex, housing the German Turner Society collections. // The structure was added to the Register of Historic Kansas Places in 2011."

Max Kade Annex Plaque

Lane's stable (the current Annex) can be seen In the plaque's background, along with the beloved “Old Dutch Windmill” that had been built a couple years after the stable and later burned down in 1905.

Max Kade Annex Plaque Imagery

Though built about 60 years after the Annex, the now-Max Kade Center was built in 1927 as a home for Mervin Sudler (dean of KU School of Medicine dean) who used the Annex structure as a garage. This is why the buildings are commonly referred to as "The Sudler House and Annex."

Max Kade Center

The building seen in the center-background of this photograph, featured in the 1904 edition of the Jayhawker yearbook, is presumed to be the Annex based on estimated geographical location.

Sky, Rectangle, Slope, Water

This Google Earth photo depicts the assumed geographical locations that support the identification of the Annex as being the stable built by James H. Lane.

Property, Map, World, Land lot

Triangle, Slope, Font, House

A page out of the KJHK station's web magazine looks back fondly at their time located in The Shack. See the full online magazine here:

Automotive design, Audio equipment, Automotive tire, Chair

This stone shack has overseen the unfolding of Lawrence history from atop its hill since 1862. Yet, its origin was a mystery until this past decade when Dr. Frank Baron, former director of the Max Kade Center for German American Studies, spear-headed the tracing of the building’s origin to Lane.

Drawing from property ownership papers, documentation of property lines, the building’s physical features denoting the period of its creation, and a photograph from the 1904 edition of the "Jayhawker" yearbook, Baron confirmed the structure’s first owner: James H. Lane. Built following the destruction of Lawrence during “Bleeding Kansas,” the stable went up amidst the city’s rebirth, making it the oldest building on the University of Kansas’ campus. Lane died merely two years after building the stable, but just as the structure remains standing, so has Lane's legacy – a legacy Baron sought memorialize via the stable itself. His fascination with Lane led him to research the Kansan extensively, the fruit of which being his exhaustive article "James H. Lane and the Origins of the Kansas Jayhawk" detailing Lane’s propagation of the term “Jayhawk” for Kansas free-staters.

In the article, Baron references the autobiography of August Bondi, a German immigrant who settled in Kansas in 1855. Bondi describes how the Jayhawk symbol came to represent free-state forces, citing Lane's explanation to his troops “the new name [for their forces] in this wise: As the Irish Jayhawk with a shrill cry announces his presence to his victims, so must you notify the pro-slavery hell-hounds to clear out or vengeance will overtake them.”

Lane’s personification of the Jayhawk as a force of power during "Bleeding Kansas" would embody the morale of Kansans long after the Emancipation Proclamation. So powerful was Lane’s symbol for Kansas abolition that the same bird now represents the state’s flagship school, the University of Kansas.

In light of Baron's research revealing these new depths of Lane’s role in Kansas history, Baron advocated for the Max Kade Center to officially commemorate Lane’s historical significance. Baron first sought to display a mural (the style of which matched what is now the Annex’s plaque, pictured above) on the building’s garage door, designed by Baron and artist Andy Foat. However, the university's Public Art on Campus Committee did not approve the project, for reasons pertaining to “the appearance of the building,” according to Baron.

Instead, Baron raised roughly $3,000 to commission a plaque in hopes of displaying it just outside the Annex. Though the building itself played no critical role in history, it and the plaque’s memorialization of Lane’s life was the source of bureaucratic controversy. Baron could not receive the required university approval to mount it on the building’s exterior due to widespread disapproval of Lane’s politics, due to Lane being an infamously brutal abolitionist with belief in a “war of extermination.”

The plaque was completed in 2016, and the new plan was to display it inside the Annex (which is not open to the public) after being temporarily displayed at the Carnegie Building and then at the Watkins Museum of History. Instead of going up as planned within the Annex, the plaque found its permanent home inside the Watkins Museum where surrounding exhibits can contextualize the history of Lane and “Bleeding Kansas,” according to current Max Kade Center director Lorie Vanchena. 

To this day, Baron hopes the plaque might return to the Annex and to fully appreciate his dream of officially recognizing the building’s significance, we must return to its beginning.

Following Lane’s death, the property passed through multiple generation’s hands over the next half century. In 1927, the property entered its next period of significance when purchased by Mervin Sudler, KU School of Medicine dean. Sudler built a limestone house 40 yards from the Lane’s stable and used it as a garage. Following his death in 1956, Sudler bequeathed his house and garage to the university (officially bonding the structure and university). To this day, the property is often referred to as the “Sudler house and Annex.”

The next chapter of the structure’s history struck in 1975, when a group of KU students decided to start a new student-run radio station KJHK (90.7 FM) and move into the Suddler Annex. The annex and young up-and-coming DJs were a perfect fit. 

KJHK’s home eventually garnered the nickname “The Shack” and was beloved for embodying the “the alternative and artful attitude that is college radio in America,” as voiced in the station’s zine celebrating the 10th anniversary at their new location in the KU Memorial Union. In this digital magazine, the staff fondly remembers how, “whether it was the ever-evolving graffiti to the rotting take-out and cigarette burnt carpet, ‘The Shack’ was magnetic.”

When the station relocated in 2010, it wasn’t an easy move. While the Shack couldn’t be kept up to code (as per Americans with Disabilities Act standards) because repair costs were out of their price range, former station manager Logan Nickels still reminisces about The Shack’s many quirks and unique embodiment “of punk rock spirit.”  

The Max Kade Center had moved into the Sudler house and in 2012 took advantage of The Shack’s recent vacancy, giving the structure its current identity: the Max Kade Annex. The center undertook the building much-needed renovations… a leaky basement was refinished, floors grooved from DJs rolling across the station had to be removed and graffiti painted over, and The Shack’s iconic garage door art featuring the name “The Hawk KHJK 90.7” alongside the Jayhawk was repainted.

Though perhaps not as cool as housing a punk rock radio station, the Max Kade Annex would be yet another cultural staple for the university as a home for history. The center annexed the building to make room for archival materials of the American Turners New York (formerly New York Turn Verein), a German-American society. Turner societies across the nation, from Lawrence to New York, house documents at the Annex, so the structure now stands to preserve German-American history and culture.

Peterson, John M. The Lawrence Windmill. Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, vol. 3, no. 3. Published January 10th 1980.

KU Information: WHAT IS THE OLDEST BUILDING ON CAMPUS?, University of Kansas. Accessed October 27th 2021.

Shepherd, Sara. "Plaque completed to mark little-known history of KU’s oldest building and its first owner, abolitionist Jim Lane," Lawrence Journal World. December 5th 2016. Accessed October 27th 2021.

Unglesbee, Ben. KU’s Max Kade Center weaves together threads of history, Lawrence Journal-World. December 2nd 2013. Accessed October 28th 2021.

Petersen, Paul R. Quantrill at Lawrence; the untold story. Volume 26. Portland. Ringgold, Inc, 2011.

KJHK ADMIN. KJHK's Zine Celebrating 10 Years in the Union. May 11th 2021.

Skubal, Valerie. Long live the Shack, The University Daily Kansas. January 14th 2010. Accessed October 28th 2021.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Jayhawker (1904), University of Kansas yearbook, Kenneth Spencer Research Library

Photo: Google Earth. (n.d.). [Google Maps image of the University of Kansas campus area]. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from,-95.24748102,280.74119922a,1469.71901768d,35y,0h,0t,0r // Graphics and textual description added by Anna Owsley