Today, Omaha suburbs routinely bill themselves having a “street of dreams” in order to sell houses. However, for more than 50 years there was one place in the city people thought of when they heard that phrase. Hopping businesses, swinging clubs and streams of human traffic came and went from these blocks. Here’s some of the history of North 24th Street, Omaha’s REAL street of dreams.
There’s a ridiculous appropriation of history that happens every year in Omaha, one that few people know the injustice of. It is taken away from African Americans, Jews, and lots of European immigrants who built Omaha throughout its first century. To show that real history, I want to begin by painting a scene for you: Imagine yourself in 1940s North Omaha. You’re strolling along North 24th Street near Lake, and as you walk you hear squealing jazz trumpets and thumping bass lines drifted out of clubs. There and there and over there are matinees showing, and a crazy-looking action scene being filmed right off the main strip. Walking along, you have a smile on your face and a great time on your mind. There’s a lively scene all around you, with clubs and stores, taverns and restaurants humming with activity, emotion and action.
Throughout the daytime North 24th Street is alive too. Omaha’s Jewish community, Italians, Germans and Scandinavians lived along the street, too. They ran and worked at many businesses along North 24th, and took pride in serving the African Americans, Eastern Europeans, and other people living throughout the Near North Side neighborhood then.
This is the what was called Omaha’s Street of Dreams—not some manufactured opulence in the western part of the city, but right here in North Omaha. It was called that because it seemed like anything could happen for a determined, dedicated African American or white person in Omaha, and North 24th was the place to see that go down.
For more than a century, North 24th Street was the most important street outside of downtown Omaha. There were hotels and stores, cafes and pubs, drug stores and professional offices lining the way from Dodge Street to Read Street. More than a dozen important intersections hosted streetcar stops, and light industrial development was mixed along the route. All that lasted from the time Omaha was settled into the 1960s.
However, starting in 1919, explicit racism drove white Omahans to divest from North 24th Street. Over the next 40 years, the City of Omaha practiced benign neglect for the civic infrastructure holding the strip together. Starting in the 1930s, when the City government did take action it was white supremacy thinly veiled in terms like “ghetto clearance” and “urban renewal” that were intended to remove low Starting in 1966, North 24th Street was ravaged by a series of fires, riots and bombing that has been unfairly pinned on African Americans, when in reality the strip was being abandoned en masse in the decades beforehand.
Today, North 24th Street is beginning to turn around. Community gardens, innovative enterprises and a coffee shop (!) are dotting the way, and action is underway to make life on “The Deuce” fun and wealthy again. Practically everyone agrees that in order to move forward, though, we have to look back.
To that end, here is a history of North Omaha’s 24th Street.
Beginning: 1850s to 1890s
One of the first settlements in Omaha was along present-day North 24th Street. The town of Saratoga was established in 1857 at North 24th and Grand Avenue. There was a hotel, a school, a post office and several houses, along with a brewery and several other businesses in the area. Without a formal town government, the operations of the town were wiped out by a financial panic within a year. However, the people and institutions kept on and several important events happened there over the years. Today, the neighborhood is fully integrated within urban Omaha and there are no signs, historical markers or commemorations to remember this one-time hotspot in the community.
It can be hard to imagine, but North 24th Street began as a dirt country road lined with the estates and mansions of wealthy businessmen who worked in downtown Omaha. From the 1850s through the 1880s, small farms with corn and various vegetables lined the road, along with fruit tree orchards from the wealthy estates. John McCreary was one of those early businessmen. A wealthy Ohioan, McCreary followed the Creighton family to early Omaha and was instrumental in laying the first telegraph lines that crossed the West. He built his fine mansion at the corner of Saunders and Pratt Street in 1876, where it stood for 50 years. Another mansion was built by early Omaha real estate magnate Clifford Mayne to the south of the McCreary mansion. Later bought by a local judge, this place at 3612 North 24th Street was renamed the Redick mansion and played an important role in North Omaha history after the turn of the century.
The roadway was carved along section lines in the 1850s and lined with crushed granite in the 1870s. Rolling 4.4 miles along a long, flat plain with almost no hills, North 24th Street was perfect for development in a time before earth-moving machines were invented and people needed easy locations to build homes, businesses and farms. The first name of North 24th was Saunders Street.
Named for early Nebraska Governor Alvin Saunders, Saunders Street was called North 24th Street by the 1880s. By then, there were important intersections at 24th and Dodge, 24th and Cuming, 24th and Erskine, 24th and Lake, and 24th and Fort began getting settled in earnest in that decade. During those years, wooden buildings popped up along the way while wagons could roll on further. The road originally went north to the town of Saratoga, where a driver could turn along a section line and go up to Florence. People built houses off the road, with Germans, Italians, and other European settlers coming in first.
Early businesses along the street included grocery stores, bakers, blacksmiths, lumber and hardware stores, and more. Before 1890, North 24th street was traveled by people riding horses, horse-drawn wagons, horse-drawn streetcars, early bicyclists and pedestrians. In 1888, Lothrop School was rebuilt near the corner of North 24th and Lothrop.
The Jewish community in Omaha first settled along North 24th in the 1870s. Developing a strong commercial presence on North 24th Street, there were several synagogues and other Jewish facilities either on the street or within a few blocks. As more Jews came from different parts of Europe, including Germany, the Baltic states, and other countries, they developed a strong cultural presence that lasted into the 1960s. Jewish-owned businesses along North 24th Street included mom-and-pop grocery stores, butcher shops, fish markets, bakeries, cafes, delis; hardware, appliance, clothing, shoe and department stores; tailor shops, repair shops, pawn shops, barber shops, beauty shops; ice houses, a junk yard, a lumber yard; drug stores, doctors offices, and laundries and dry cleaners. There were also Jewish-owned dance halls, night clubs, bars, billiard parlors, and movie theaters.
During this time, African Americas in Omaha lived nearer to downtown than they do today. By 1867, enough Blacks gathered in community to found Saint John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church at North 9th and Capital Streets as the first church for African Americans in Nebraska. By the 1880s, Omaha’s original “Negro district” was located at 20th and Harney Streets. However, in the 1870s as the Black community grew in numbers and successes, it expanded north to 24th.
By the 1890s, African Americans in Omaha were moving up the social, economic, and political ladder of Omaha’s predominantly white society. Black men and women formed social, political, economic and community-building organizations for education, respectability, advancement and reform. Several African American newspapers were started in the 1880s and 90s, including the Progress, the Afro-American Sentinel and The Enterprise. Early Black churches were established along North 24th, too, as well as Black-owned businesses and other enterprises.
In the 1870s and 80s, other European settlers and Americans from the East Coast and Midwest built many of the first businesses and buildings along North 24th Street. Bakeries, clothing stores, groceries, drug stores, and laundries took shape along the strip. There were businesses owned by Germans, Swedes, and other immigrants. Several churches opened along North 24th during this era, too, including Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and Catholics. For instance, the Immanuel Baptist Church opened at North 24th and Pinkney in 1889; the German Immanuel Baptist Church at later moved to 24th and Miami opened in 1888; Mortuaries lined the strip too, many focused on the immigrant and racial groups in the city.
In 1878, Creighton University was founded on North 24th Street, with its first building constructed just south of Cuming Street. The Creighton family donated money to several North Omaha institutions after that, including St. John’s parish and the Poor Clare’s monastery.
By the 1880s, large landholders along North 24th Street became determined to start developing neighborhoods, selling lots and buildings houses. Perhaps the most determined was Herman Kountze, an Omaha banker who owned a large section of land from North 24th east to North 16th, and from Locust north to Sprague. During the 1890s, he laid out streets, installed sidewalks and gas-powered streetlamps, donated land for churches and set aside a large park in the middle of his neighborhood called Kountze Place. For instance, Kountze donated or sold land at discounted prices to several churches in his development, including Sacred Heart Catholic, Trinity Methodist Episcopal and many others.
The early culture along North 24th was vibrant and thriving. By 1890, there were several brick buildings from Cuming to Ames Avenue, each peppered with stores, entertainment and other facilities. Longtime institutions like Crissie’s Pharmacy, the Saratoga Hotel and other businesses were launched. Some intersections, including 24th and Lake and 24th and Fort had three-story buildings constructed by then. However, success was dotted along the way, with large estates still taking up a lot of land and large scale residential development about to happen. During the next decade, North 24th Street really took off!
Growing: 1890s to 1940s
By the late 1890s, Herman Kountze was involved in incentivizing the largest gathering in Omaha’s history to happen on his land. Despite all the attempts he made to sell properties along 24th and eastward, an economic downturn in the early 1890s stifled growth. So in 1897, he threw his lot in with a scheme to boost Omaha’s future with a huge event like a world fair called the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.
This massive event drew more than 2 million visitors to North Omaha, and despite leaving no permanent landmarks in the neighborhood, it changed the character of the neighborhood forever. It was during this event that the first automobile in Omaha might have traveled up North 24th Street. Businesses sprung up along the street to serve tourists and others, and temporary as well as permanent buildings were constructed along the way.
There were several schools built along North 24th Street throughout the years. One of them was the Paul Street School, which was rebuilt at 1311 North 24th Street in a simple building made in 1892.
In the decade after the Expo, the Kountze Place neighborhood around North 24th Street filled in nicely.
Further north of Kountze Place, in 1909 the Redick Mansion became home to a new higher education institution called Omaha University. Built to be the city’s secular college, the University of Omaha had several degree programs and was a pillar of the community. After replacing the wooden mansion with a brick building in 1919, the campus on North 24th Street came to include several buildings. One of several higher education institutions in North Omaha, it stayed on North 24th until 1938, when the campus was moved to West Dodge Road. Today it’s called the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
With the university next door to the Evangelical Covenant Hospital, in the 1910s and 1920s several businesses sprung up in the area to support the professionals who worked in the area daily. Businesses like Hash House and the Lothrop Shoe Service were joined by Safeway and other companies in the neighborhood.
After the turn of the 20th century, the corner of North 24th and Fort developed into an important commercial node. A giant drug store, several cafes and groceries and a theater was built there to accomodate streetcar passengers from two different lines that converged there. The former Pearl Memorial United Methodist Church was opened there in 1921 after starting at North 24th and Larimore in 1906.
However, even a century ago North 24th Street was a neglected thoroughfare. Despite the modern rumors that North 24th was glorious when white people lived there, it was a challenging place to live back then, too. The City of Omaha was notoriously slow paving Omaha; however, in the case of North 24th Street they were slow paving sidewalks and lighting the street, too.
Jim Crow segregation supported by US Army forces struck North 24th Street in September 1919. That month, an African American worker named Will Brown was lynched downtown. In a move supposedly intended to keep North Omaha’s African American neighborhood safe from swarming white mobs who wanted to attack them, General George Wood drew a line on a map from North 24th to North 16th on the east, and from Cuming to Lake on the north and told Blacks that if they stayed within that area he could keep them safe. This segregation was made de jure in 1936 by the federal Home Owners Lending Corporation, which turned to Omaha’s real estate, insurance and bank industry to draw a red line around the neighborhood including North 24th to segregate African Americans and keep them within that area. Racism forever changed North 24th Street. During the same era that houses along North 24th were formally segregated, schools, hospitals, hotels, theaters and more was, too. Churches had been segregated for 30 years before that; businesses became more strictly segregated afterwards.
Several professional offices for African Americans were located on North 24th Street. Dr. Matthew Ricketts became the first Black person elected to serve in the Nebraska Legislature in 1892, and in 1895, Silas Robbins became the first Black lawyer admitted to the Nebraska State Bar Association. Ricketts and Robbins both had offices along a growing strip of businesses in the city, even though they were segregated from serving the majority of European residents. Several other African American doctors and other professionals have had offices of North 24th, too.
This was the era when 24th and Lake became the focal point for African American culture in Omaha. Surrounding this district were clubs and bars, offices and stores, theaters and billiards, churches and halls where Blacks would gather, spend money, spread the news and gossip, recreate and learn.
Black-owned establishments spread northwards up North 24th in the 1910s and 20s. A Black self-empowerment movement emerged in Omaha echoing the Harlem Renaissance during this time period. The economy of African Americans grew while the culture expanded.
During this same era, a Baptist lay minister named Earl Little preached at the corner of 24th and Lake. In additional to sharing the Gospel, he also spread the news about Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association, or UNIA. Little’s son was born in North Omaha in 1925, and was later called Malcolm X. Lots of other activists were active on North 24th then, including the Omaha Colored Commercial Club, the Omaha chapter of the NAACP and the Omaha Urban League.
In 1925, Bethel AME opened at North 24th and Franklin Street. Several Black churches were located just off the strip too, including Saint John’s AME, Zion Baptist, and others. It was 1917 when Pilgrim Baptist Church was established in a storefront on North 24th Street. In 1920, they moved into a church at North 25th and Hamilton Street and have remained there since. In 1927, Grove Methodist Episcopal Church moved to North 22nd and Miami Streets and was renamed Clair Church. Mt. Moriah Baptist Church moved to North 24th and Ohio Streets in 1927. The Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church was at North 24th and Wirt Street.
All of this and much more made North 24th Street important to African Americans like never before.
For all its successes, it seems like North 24th Street was slow to inspire economic confidence. The only economic institutions I have found in the history of the street were the Metropolitan Building and Loan Association and the Carver Savings and Loan Association. The Metropolitan was at North 24th and Ames from 1922 to 1966, and Carter was at North 24th and Lake from 1946 to 1965. In 1890, a bank called the Citizens Bank opened at North 24th and Cuming Streets, and closed permanently in 1894.
Omaha’s best nightlife happened along North 24th Street. The most popular hangouts were Mildred Brown’s Carnation Ballroom at North 24th and Miami, and the Dreamland Ballroom, located at 2221 North 24th. The most popular Black bands from across the U.S. played to packed crowds every night of the week at both of these hallowed party places. Jim Bell’s Club Harlem at North 24th and Lake was also a high point, along with the Aloha Club and several others. Social clubs were spread throughout North 24th Street during this era, too.
Places like Jim Bell’s Club Harlem, the AmVets Club, the Carnation Ballroom, the Blue Room and the truly iconic Dreamland Ballroom lined North 24th. Several halls on or near North 24th became important during this time as well, including the Druid Hall, the Elks Club, and the Frenzer Hall at North 24th and Parker.
Movie theaters up and down North 24th Street. Omaha’s pioneering showman Frank E. Goff started the first nickelodeon in Omaha in 1909, calling it the Franklin. Goff opened the Alhambra up the street, and the Suburban, Lake, Lothrop and Alamo theaters entertained the masses, along with juke joints, clubs and more. Franklin Theater opened at 1624 North 24th in 1909, and ran until 1929. Along with the Alhambra at 1814 North 24th, Frank Goff was the operator who first accepted African American moviegoers. The Alhambra ran from 1911 to 1930.
The Lothrop Theater was at 3212 North 24th from 1924 to 1955, and the Burt Theater, also called the Frolic and the Crown, ran from 1914 to 1918 at 4116 North 24th. Located just south of Ames Avenue, the Suburban Theater at 4414 North 24th ran from 1900 to 1925. At 24th and Fort, there was a theater called the Alamo, aka the Fort, Victoria, and Victoria International that operated from 1914 through 1938. The popular and longstanding Ritz Theater at 2043 North 24th Street ran from 1931 to 1967, and was built, owned and operated by the same man the whole time, Harry L. Taylor.
During this era, The Omaha Star started publishing in 1938 at 2216 North 24th, and continues today. This is when North 24th was called Omaha’s Street of Dreams.
This was the zenith of North 24th Street. After World War II it was never the same.
North 24th Street Changes: 1950s to Today
After World War II, segregation along North 24th Street was paralleled by divestment in real estate and businesses, as well as a policy of benign neglect by the City of Omaha government. Streets, sewers and public transportation deteriorated while long-time investors abandoned storefronts; white business owners moved their shops; and white church congregations fled the surrounding area, especially North 24th. As commercial buildings became decrepit they were boarded up or rented without maintenance; as houses went from being single-family homes to apartments they were maintained poorly, and many were eventually demolished. Slum clearance programs struck North 24th particularly hard, as the City’s tractors turned with vengeance towards African Americans and low-income people.
During this era, North 24th Street strip stopped growing in earnest, although there were a few developments. Carver Savings and Loan, the city’s first Black-owned bank, opened in 1944. Jews continued to own a number of businesses, but white businesses were closing en masse while the number of Black-owned businesses serving the African American community stopped growing. Cafes continued, and longtime businesses like groceries, liquor stores and drug stores struggled to stay open, but they did. The Lion Products Company was on the corner of North 24th and Lake into the early 1950s.
In 1954, Charlie Hall started the Fair Deal Cafe at 2114 North 24th to become Omaha’s “Black City Hall”, which it served as for almost 50 years. There were many exceptional places to eat along North 24th Street, including the Fair Deal, Carter’s Cafe and many others. Carter’s Cafe opened in 1948, and after moving around several times, settle in just off 24th and Lake at 2514 North 24th Street. It was open for more than 35+ years.
Kellom School was opened in 1952 at 1311 North 24th Street. It was meant to be a community school and included a community center, but was severely segregated and only had African American students for several decades.
During this same period, Omaha’s gross racism raged. Eight segregated schools served African American students in North Omaha, with several clustered around North 24th Street. Whites had mostly fled the area by then, with strict agreements among realty agents preventing African Americans from buying homes outside a certain district dissected by North 24th. The movie theaters along the street that once served African Americans closed during the 1950s, along with many businesses and stores.
By the early 1960s, the Jewish community was almost wholly divested from North 24th Street. At the same time, the City of Omaha wasn’t supporting parks, sidewalk and street upkeep, and other government services in the area.
A lot of formerly white-only churches moved from North 24th Street during the 1950s and 1960s, and those that stayed tried integrating. For instance, in 1954, North Presbyterian Church at North 24th and Wirt Streets merged with a church near Benson, and in its place Hillside Presbyterian and Bethany Presbyterian formed Calvin Memorial Presbyterian in the former North Presbyterian building. Meant to be an integrated congregation, the church intentionally hoped to serve both Blacks and whites. While that congregation lasted 40 years, it ultimately failed to be integrated and was exclusively African American for more than half its existence. Today, the Church of Jesus Christ Whole Truth occupies the building and serves the all-African American neighborhood where its located.
By 1960, major institutions had been moving away from North 24th Street over the previous 20 years. The Evangelical Covenant Hospital went bankrupt in 1937; Omaha University moved to West Omaha at 60th and Dodge Streets in 1938; and the Omaha Presbyterian Theological Seminary closed in 1943. Large employers went out of business and moved from the community, including Reed’s Ice Cream, which ran a large factory at 3106 North 24th Street. Although the owner would serve African Americans, he wouldn’t hire Blacks to work in his stores and stands. When Reed’s was boycotted by civil rights activists, their business was damaged and eventually they closed.
Without jobs and recreational activities for youth and young adults in the surrounding neighborhoods, North 24th Street became a logical target for reactive outcomes such as burglaries, robberies, vandalism and more in the early 1960s. However, what happened next caught Omaha by surprise.
Starting in 1966, four major riots ravished the ten blocks that held the majority of businesses along North 24th Street. Dozens of storefronts were destroyed and many businesses were attacked. There were large groups of protesters and rioters, including people who battled with policemen and firemen, looted businesses up and down North 24th Street, and seemingly innocent people who were attacked. Both Black-owned and white-owned businesses were destroyed. Over the course of the riots, hundreds of people were arrested, millions of dollars of buildings were destroyed, and the trust of the community was permanently shaken.
Organizations such as the Omaha Black Panthers, 4CL and other groups tried responding throughout these events. Civic leaders including Ernie Chambers, state senator Edward Danner, Charles Washington and Beverly Blackburn tried intervening to stem the flow of danger and hostility. However, the riots happened again and again.
The neighborhood has never completely recovered. Since the 1980s, there have been several government and private plans to improve the street, but overall many have failed to materialize. With recent interest to improve the area, recent plans may prove more successful.
Since 2000, several new homes and businesses have been developed along North 24th Street from Cuming northwards. One of the major developments is featured next.
Blue Lion Center
The Blue Lion Center is made of two buildings located on the southeast corner of North 24th and Lake Streets. Built in 1918, there were a number of businesses here over the years, including the Calhoun Hotel, a Black hotel that served a lot of musical greats who played in North Omaha; a number of African American doctors; and Rabe’s Buffet, a popular restaurant for decades. However, the Blue Lion buildings were name after two of their most famous tenants: McGill’s Blue Room, a jazz club; and Lion Products, which sold farm equipment. According to longtime resident Debra Stewart, other historic businesses in the Blue Lion included Stewart’s Tops and Bottoms, Rags to Riches, a barber shop and nail salon, and a candy store, among others.
Recently, the Blue Lion has been transformed into the home of the Union for Contemporary Arts, as well as additional space for retail or a restaurant. The building is lovingly used and cared for today.
National Register of Historic Places
North 24th Street is one of the most important commercial, residential and cultural strips in Omaha. As such, its vital to protect the remaining historic, cultural, religious, educational, economic and other properties along the strip. Following are buildings on North 24th that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church, 3105 North 24th Street, built in 1910, listed in 1986
- Jewell Building (Dreamland Ballroom), 2221‑25 North 24th Street, built in 1923, listed in 1983
- The Omaha Star, 2216 North 24th Street, built in 1923, listed in 2003
- Micklin Lumber Company Building, 2109 North 24th Street, built in 1911, listed as part of the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District in 2016
- Skeet’s BBQ, 2201 North 24th Street, built in 1955, listed as part of the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District in 2016
- United States Postal Service Station A, 2205 North 24th Street, built in 1948, listed as part of the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District in 2016
- White Rose Gas Station, 2323 North 24th Street, built circa 1920, listed as part of the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District in 2016
- F.J. Carey Block, 2401 North 24th Street, built in 1914, listed as part of the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District in 2016
- Jones and Chiles Building, 2314 North 24th Street, built in 1914, listed as part of the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District in 2016
- J. D. Lewis Mortuary, North 24th Street, built in 1914, listed as part of the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District in 2016
- Ideal Hotel, 2522 North 24th Street, built in 1914, listed as part of the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District in 2016
- North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District, listed in 2016
- Minne Lusa Historic District, Bounded by North 24th and North 30th Streets, Redick Avenue & Vane Street, built in 1916, listed in 2014
Hospitals and Healthcare
From the 1880s through the 1950s, there were several hospitals and healthcare providers located on North 24th Street. There were also several offices for doctors and dentists, too! They included…
- Swedish Mission Hospital, later known as Evangelical Covenant Hospital, 3706 North 24th Street
- Salvation Army Women’s Hospital, 3824 North 24th Street and 3706 North 24th Street
- Mercy Hospital, 2402 Parker Street
- Dr. E.L. Alexander, Physician, 1024 North 24th Street
- Dr. G.B. Lennox, Dentist, 1602 North 24th Street
- Dr. Anthony Hawkins, Physician, 2010 North 24th Street
- Dr. W.W. Solomon, Physician, 3030 North 24th Street
- Drs. Craig Morris and Dr. J.H. Hutten, Dentists, 2419 1/2 North 24th Street
- Dr. Herbert Wiggins, Physician, 1518 1/2 North 24th Street
- Dr. Wesley Jones, Dentist, 1518 1/2 North 24th Street
North 24th Street Historical Tour
The historic cultural center of the Near North Side neighborhood and Omaha’s African American community was indisputably North 24th Street. The following list of sites just on this street shows why.
- The Majestic Theatre, 413 No. 24th
- Fern Theatre, 716 North 24th St. – Opened in 1913
- Beal’s Grill, 24th and California, opened in 1939
- Citizens Bank, 24th and Cuming, Opened in 1887
- Bellows Carpentry, 913 N 24th St. – 1890
- Omaha Fire Department Station #6 site, 914-16 North 24th St.
- Baines and Donoghue Meat Market, 933 N 24th St. – 1890
- Brown Livery Stable, 1001 N 24th St. – 1890
- Barth Meat Market, 1010 N 24th St. – 1890
- Barker Groceries, 1013 N 24th St. – 1890
- Blackman, Flour and Feed, 1014 N 24th St. – 1890
- Dr. E.L. Alexander, Physician, 1024 North 24th St. – 1890
- Canan Books and Stationery, 1024 North 24th St. – 1890
- Kellom Pool and Community Center, 1101 North 24th St.
- B’nai Jacob Anshe Sholom, 1111 North 24th St. – Located at 24th and Nicholas, this synagogue was credited for attracting many Jewish people to Omaha’s North Side. Formerly Omaha’s Second Presbyterian Church, it was converted in 1909.
- Donovan Brother’s Furnaces and Supplies site, 1114 north 24th St. – A large store located here from the 1930s through the 1960s.
- Brown Billiards, 1115 N 24th St. – 1890
- Knights of Pythias Hall site, 1121 North 24th St. – A historic social hall serving the Near North Side from the 1870s through the 1910s.
- Carlson and Erickson Shoes and Furnishing Goods, 1218 North 24th St. – 1890
- Baldwin Mechantile, 1300 N 24th St. – 1890
- Emerson Laundry, 1303 North 24th St. – Located here in 1913.
- Butter’s Studio, 1306 North 24th St. “A poor portrait is dear at any price, but a good one is well worth the money. Ours are good and yet not expensive.”
- Charles Bales, Harnessmaker, 1310 N 24th. St. – 1890
- Paul Street School/Kellom Elementary School site, 1311 North 24th St. – Opened at 24th and Paul Streets in 1892, the Paul Street School was a segregated school for 50 years. In 1952, a new building was opened.
- Top Notch Cafe, 1322 North 24th St. – “Special table d’hote dinner Sunday. 50 cents. Classy entertainers. If you cannot come, telephone your orders and we will deliver them.”
- Ahlquist Hardware, 1327 N 24th St. – 1890
- Bocock and Proctor Coal, 1330 N 24th St. – 1890
- Bell’s Restaurant, 1331 N 24th St. – 1890
- Carlson Meat Market, 1339 N 24th St. – 1890
- Logan Fontenelle Housing Project site, 1411 North 24th St. – Located at 20th to 24th Streets, and from Paul to Seward Streets, “Little Vietnam” opened in the 1930s. Logan Fontenelle was a low-income public housing project that was torn down in the 1990s. It was the site of the murder of teenager Vivian Strong by Omaha policeman James Loder in 1969, which led to riots that devastated North 24th.
- The Sanitary Ice Cream Parlor, 1425 North 24th St. – Offered a deli and a “full line of groceries” according to a 1917 Monitor ad.
- Betterman Drugs, 1437 N 24th St. – 1890
- North Omaha Community Development, Inc., 1502 North 24th St. – Opened in 1984, NOCD has grown from a community organizing agency to the developer of major projects such as the Horizon Townhomes and the Blue Lion Center.
- Wolk Tailor, 1506 North 24th St. – “First class tailoring, Men’s second-hand clothing at bargains. All kinds of alterations and special dry cleaning,” from a 1917 Monitor ad.
- Cornelius Olof Shoemaker, 1513 N 24th St. – 1890
- Kosher Meat Market, 1513 North 24 St. – Operated by Sam Fried and Iz Kuklin with Jacob Shukert, this was considered the most modern kosher market in Omaha in 1919.
- Carlson Clothing Store, 1514 North 24th St. – Established in 1890, this store sold “shoes and gents furnishings.” In a 1917 Monitor ad, they said, “Many a hard earned dollar can be saved at Carlson’s store this week.”
- Cooperative Workers of America Department Store, 1518 N. 24th St. – This was a Black-owned store operated for North Omaha’s extremely segregated neighborhood. It was only open for 18 months from 1920 to 1921.
- Drs. Wesley Jones and Herbert Wiggins, Dentist, 1518 1/2 North 24th St. – An African American physician.
- Dr. G.B. Lennox, Dentist, 1602 North 24th St. – An African American physician.
- Abrams Furnace, 1606 North 24th St. Provided “furnace work and general tin work of all kinds.”
- Central Ice Service, 1607 North 24th St.
- Franklin Theater, 1624 North 24th Street – Open 1909 to 1929
- Building site, 1701 North 24th St. – An example of a building destroyed by fires from the 1966 riots.
- Adler Bakery, 1722 North 24th St. – A large commercial bakery that operated here through the 1960s.
- Bernstein Department Store, 1804 N. 24th St. – Open for one year from 1924-25, Bernstein went on to open other enterprises in the neighborhood.
- Lynch Tailor, 1807 North 24th St. “Ladies suits or skits made to order. Cleaning, pressing and repairing neatly done for ladies and gents.”
- American Laundry, 1809 North 24 St. – “Ladies’ and children’s fine dresses and clothes given special attention. Bundle washing. Work called for and delivered. Get our prices.”
- Alhambra Theatre site, 1814 North 24th St. – Open 1911 to 1930. Afterwards, the building became a roller rink, a grocery store and a miniature golf course before burning down in 1936.
- Star Theater, 1814 North 24th Street – Open 1914 to 1916.
- Bohn Saloon, 1822 North 24th Street – 1890
- Star Department Store, 1831-33-35 North 24th Street – Open from 1904 through 1939, this store was a large variety store that offered a lot of products.
- Climax Tailors, 1837 North 24th St. Cleaning – Pressing – Altering. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
- Schnaubers Meats, 1906 North 24th St.
- DePorres Community Center, 1914 North 24th St. – The original stand-alone location.
- Dairy Queen, 1922 North 24th Street – Opened in 1951, this location stayed in place until 1963.
- The Hawkins Block, 2010 North 24th St. – Built in 1924 by African American Dr. Anthony L. Hawkins, this block showed the strength of Omaha’s emerging African American middle class.
- King Yuen Cafe, 2010 1/2 North 24th Street, Phone JA. 8576. Featuring Chinese and American Dishes. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
- Original Omaha Library building site, 2019 North 24th St. – Originally located downtown, it was moved here by 1907.
- The Grotto, 2025 North 24th St. – A club starting in the 1920s that hosted the Omaha Night Owls and the Sam Turner Orchestra, among others.
- Carey Neighborhood Grocery, 2120 North 24th St. – Owned by two African American brothers that owned five other stores, including another one in North Omaha at North 27th and Ohio.
- 9 Center, 2035 North 24th St – Opened by R.H. Spiegal in 1939, the 9 Center claimed to be the first five and dime in the Near North Side. The store closed temporarily in 1943 when he joined the U.S. Army during World War II, and was open again starting in 1945 when the war ended.
- Ritz Theatre site, 2041 North 24th St. The Ritz was built and opened in 1931, and was an African-American theatre that sat more than 500 moviegoers. It closed permanently in 1967.
- Snack Stop, 2108-10 North 24th St. – Open in the 1940s and 50s, this convenience store was owned by Black businessman William “Raincoat” Davis.
- Crissey Drugs, 2112 North 24th St. – 1890
- Fair Deal Cafe, 2118 North 24th St. – Once called Omaha’s Black City Hall, Fair Deal was open from the 1950s through the 1990s.
- Dr. A.L. Hawkins, Physician, 2120 North 24th St. – An African American physician.
- Jackson Lunch Room, 2122 North 24th St. – Offered short orders and 6pm dinner with special home cooking according to a 1917 Monitor ad.
- Skeet’s Barbecue Drive-In, 2201 North 24th St. – A longtime establishment currently open.
- Creacy’s Chicken Hut, 2210 North 24th Street. Home of Golden Brown Fried Chicken. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
- Omaha Star Building, 2216 North 24th St. – Built as a mortuary, this building has been home to the Omaha Star since it was founded in 1938. The Omaha Star has been North Omaha’s premier news source ever since. This building was the second home to the DePorres Club and a safe haven for people running from the riots in the 1960s.
- Jewell Building, 2221 North 24th St. – This building was home to Omaha’s spectacular Dreamland Ballroom, a prime nightspot for almost 50 years. Located in the heart of the Near North Side, the Dreamland hosted Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and many other stars.
- Tuxedo Billiards, 2221 North 24th St. – This was the second location of this business.
- Idlewild Hall site, 2222 North 24th St. – An African American entertainment hall, this site was packed on the early evening of March 23, 1913 when a major tornado blasted it. At least 14 people died here.
- Mecca Amusement Co., 2303 North 24th St. – Offered roller skating, dancing, movies, music, an outdoor cabaret cafe, and a soft drink fountain in a 1915 Monitor ad.
- Williamson and Terrell Drug Store, 2306 North 24th St.
- Tuxedo Billiards, 2307 North 24th St. – This was the first location of this business.
- Club House Cafe, 2310 North 24th St. Hot Home Cooked Meals and Short Orders. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
- Metoyer Bar-BQ, 2311 1/2 North 24th St.
- Hill’s Catering, Employment, Rentals and Real Estate site, 2324 North 24th St.
- Hill’s Chicken in a Box site, 2324 North 24th St.
- Goodrich Hall site, 2340 North 24th St. – Built in the 1880s, this was a social hall that was home to fraternal organizations, a church, and several other groups for many years.
- Carver Savings and Loan Association building, 2416 Lake St. – This landmark building housed a bank that provided an important economic lifeline to African Americans from the 1940s through the 1970s.
- Robert Kennedy speaking location, 24th and Erskine – In May 1968, Bobby Kennedy stopped his campaign entourage to get out and speak to the large African American crowd gathered here.
- Diamond Moving Picture Theater site, 2410 Lake St. – This was the site of Omaha’s first Black theatre, and one of the sites most decimated by a deadly 1913 tornado. Many people were falsely thought to have died here; few actually did. The theatre was rebuilt and used for many purposes throughout the years, including its last purpose as the illustrious Cotton Club.
- Standard Laundry Company, 2401 Lake St. – Located on this corner for many years, this business was opened by Edholm and Sherman.
- Da-Nite Miniature Golf, 2210 North 24th St.
- The Omaha Star, 2216 North 24th St. – Home to Omaha’s oldest African American newspaper.
- Drs. John A. Singleton and C.H. Singleton, Dentists, 2411 North 24th St. – African American dentists.
- Blue Lion Center, 2417-2423 North 24th St.
- Lion Products Company, 2417 North 24th St. – An agricultural implements dealer
- The California Shop, 2414 North 24th St – A men’s clothing store
- McGill’s Blue Room, 2423-25 N 24th St. – A club that hosted many popular acts from the 1930s to the 1960s.
- Drs. Craig Morris and Dr. J.H. Hutten, Dentists at 2419 1/2 North 24th St. – African American dentists.
- Calhoun Hotel, 2423 Lake St. – This was an African American-friendly hotel.
- Rabe’s Buffet, 2425 North 24th St. – Owned by an African American and operated for many decades.
- Midway Cafe, 2418 North 24th – Owned by African AmericanJames Bell for many decades.
- Drs. A.A . Foster, Price Terrell and A.M. McMillan, Physicians, 2420 North 24th St. – African American physicians.
- Lewis Clothing, 2503 North 24th St. “Buy your shoes from Joe Lewis and save money. Quality guaranteed.”
- Berry and Womack Drugs, 2504 N 24th St. – 1890
- Althouse School of Beauty Culture, 2505 North 24th – This was the third of three locations in the schools’ history.
- Osborne Shoes, 2506 North 24th St. – “18 years as cost man with shoe manufacturers. We sell only high grade, reliable shoes.” From an 1889 ad in The Excelsior.
- Blue Arrow Cafe, 2509 No. 24th Street. “Best in Omaha.” Fine Food Good Coffee. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
- Loves Jazz and Arts Center, 2512 North 24th St. – One of North Omaha’s present-day cultural hubs, featuring performance art and other works.
- Carter’s Cafe, 2515 North 24th St. – A 35+ year institution at 24th and Lake, Ms. Carter’s Cafe served extraordinary soul food and is still home to many peoples’ best memories of delicious North O food.
- Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, 2602 North 24th St. – Originally the site of a Mormon church, Mt. Moriah moved here in 1926 and built a new building in 1934.
- Carnation Ballroom, 2700 North 24th St. – Located at N 24th and Miami on the southeast corner of the intersection, the Carnation was site to many grand performances and performers, including young James Brown and others.
- Opportunities Industrialization Center, 2802 North 24th St. – Originally opened in a remodeled car garage and warehouse. Today it provides job training to unemployed and underemployed persons who want to upgrade their skills. Omaha’s OIC was first established in 1966 with their new building opened in 1976.
- Professor PJ Waddle’s House, 2807 North 24th St. In the early 20th century, Prof. Waddles was a premier musician in North Omaha, leader of several bands and a featured performer in many places. His home was a popular social spot for years.
- Sothmann Dry Cleaning, 3012 North 24th St.
- Dr. W.W. Solomon, Physician, 3022 North 24th St.
- Urban League of Nebraska, 3022 North 24th St. – Today is called Alston’s Corner and houses an art space.
- Reed’s Ice Cream, 3101 North 24th. – After opening here in the 1920s, Reed’s developed a segregationist perspective in their business: African Americans were allowed to buy the ice cream, but not work for the business. This shop was picketed relentlessly by the DePorres Club in 1953, and stopped its racist hiring practices because of it. It closed in the 1960s.
- Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church, 3105 North 24th St. – Built in 1910 as the North Presbyterian Church, this landmark was designed by F. A. Henninger. Its architecture was greatly influenced by the Trans-Mississippi Expo a decade earlier.
- Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barbershop, 3116 North 24th St. – Established by Dan Goodwin, Sr. in 1955, Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barbershop has been the location of many important conversations in North Omaha history. Ernie Chambers was a barber here.
- Lothrop Theatre site, 3212 North 24th St. – Opened in 1938, the Lothrop seated 480. It closed in 1955 and was demolished at some point after that.
- Immanuel Baptist Church site, 3401 North 24th St. on the southeast corner of Pinkney St.
- Luzianne’s (Lee’s) Ice Cream Company, 3515 North 24th St. Storefront designed by architect Edward J. Sessinghaus.
- Cox Groceries, 3906 N 24th St. – 1890
- Althouse School of Beauty Culture, 3619 North 24th – This was the second of three locations in the school’s history.
- Mayne – Redick Mansion, 3612 North 24th St – Built in 1876, this mansion was dismantled in 1908
- The McCreary Mansion, 3706 North 24th St -Built in the 1880s, this mansion became a hospital in 1905 and then was demolished in 1926.
- Omaha University campus site, 3700 North 24th St. – This corner was originally the location of John Redick’s mansion. Starting in 1906, the University of Omaha was located here.
- Swedish Mission Hospital, 3706 North 24th St. – After buying McCreary’s Mansion in 1905, the hospital changed names in 1928 to the Evangelical Covenant Hospital and built new buildings. It closed in 1938 and was sold to the Salvation Army that year.
- Dewey Chevrolet, 3813 North 24th St. – Located here from the 1920s until ???
- Johanson Drug Store, 3819 North 24th Street – Opened in 1908, it stayed here until 1948.
- Native Omahans Club, 3819 North 24th St. – Founded in 1976, this group plans Native Omaha Days celebrations, including a community-wide picnic, parade, social activities and other events.
- Salvation Army Rescue Home, 3824 North 24th. – Opened in 1896, this institution existed at this location in 1914.
- Burt Theater, 4116 North 24th Street – Open 1914 to 1917
- Crown Theater, 4116 North 24th Street – Open 1917 to 1918
- Frolic Theater, 4116 North 24th Street – Open 1911 to 1914
- Boyer Lumber Company site, 4223 North 24th St. One of a number of businesses owned by J.A. Boyer.
- Boyer’s Coal and Coke Company site, 4223 North 24th St.
- Suburban Theater, 4414 North 24th Street – Open 1900 to 1925
- Harmon and Weeth Coal and Gas site, 4811 North 24th St. in the 1930s.
- Alamo Theater, 5303 North 24th Street – Open 1914 to 1923
- Fort Theater – 5303 North 24th Street, Open 1924 to 1931
- Victoria International Theater, 5303 North 24th Street – Open 1938 to 1945
- Victoria Theater, 5303 North 24th Street – Open 1931 to 1938
Other places that aren’t on North 24th Street but are tied together with its history include the Bryant Center, the Off Beat Club, the Webster Telephone Exchange Building, St. John’s AME Church, and many other places.
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MY ARTICLES ABOUT THE HISTORY OF KOUNTZE PLACE
General: Kountze Place | Kountze Park | Omaha University | North 16th Street | North 24th Street | Florence Boulevard | Wirt Street | Binney Street | 16th and Locust Historic District
Houses: Charles Storz House | Anna Wilson’s Mansion | McCreary Mansion | McLain Mansion | Redick Mansion | John E. Reagan House | George F. Shepard House
Churches: First UPC/Faith Temple COGIC | St. Paul Lutheran Church | Hartford Memorial UBC/Rising Star Baptist Church | Immanuel Baptist Church | Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church | Omaha Presbyterian Theological Seminary | Trinity Methodist Episcopal
Hospitals: Salvation Army Hospital | Swedish Hospital | Kountze Place Hospital
Events: Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition | Greater America Exposition | Riots
Businesses: Hash House | 3006 Building | Grand Theater | 2936 North 24th Street | Corby Theater
Listen to the North Omaha History Podcast show #4 about the history of the Kountze Place neighborhood »