The Future of North Omaha History

A 1931 picture of Pilgrim Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School.

The history of North Omaha doesn’t belong to any single person or organization. Instead, it belongs to the entire community, and ironically, it belongs to the future.

Within the next few years, there is going to be a surge of interest in North Omaha’s history. More people are going to claim the heritage and legacy of a section of the city that’s been neglected for too long. 
The Walnut Hill Pumping Station, once a shining star of Omaha’s parks system.

The cobblestone streets that were seen as derelict for the last 50 years will start to be seen as quaint and valuable. The old institutions and homes that have been forgotten and neglected are going to resurface as hidden gems and carefully resurface in their roles as cultural beacons. The social halls, churches and businesses denied from relevance since the 1960s are going to come back, desired for their high quality constructio and architectural substance. At the same time, old showcase homes are going to sparkle once again as their owners sell and new ones move in. Ancient neighborhoods as old as the city are going to make comebacks as good as any Cornhusker team ever has. 
The former A&P Super Market, located near North 24th and Ames Avenue.

At the same time, there will be more recognition for the nieghborhood’s heritage from the government, businesses and private individuals who are becoming increasingly passionate about reclaiming Omaha’s lost heritage. The Empowerment Network recognizes this in their North Omaha Village Plan, while the Restoration Exchange is working to make it more evident to everyone. 
The recent identification of the Minne Lisa Historical District is the tip of an iceberg where people and government recognize the fiscal and cultural value tucked away across North Omaha. This recognition is going to catapult home values in this end of the city back toward full worth, simultaneously transforming the community by ensuring high commitment home ownership. Owners and occupants who are dedicated to maintaining and reinvigorating home values will flood the neighborhoods throughout the community. This will push out some current residents, but will also have the effect of securing many home owners’ investments and stopping the hemorrhageing of money from the community. Architects like Linda Williams of ShotgunHaus are at the cutting edge of this effort. 
The old Minne Lusa Pumping Station, once located at the Florence Water Works in North Omaha.

New and renewed institutions will continue to grow, including the Carver Bank, Great Plains Black History Museum, and Historic Florence. All of these and more are absolutely essential to the future of North Omaha history. 
Schools and youth-serving organizations across North Omaha have to turn a new eye towards the community’s history. Curricula and programs need to be established and supported that connect young people to the people, places and events that have come before them. Programs like Omaha Public Schools Invisible History Project and nonprofit outreach like the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation have to be supported, funded and sustained in their pursuits to these ends. New programs have to be started, too, while old programs like the River City Roundup need to be reimagined to embrace the new research I’m surfacing on this blog. 
The Church of the Sacred Heart at North 22nd and Binney in North Omaha.

Ultimately though, the greatest part of the history of North Omaha is that it’s being embraced by the present, today. We have to stay focused on drawing this out and shining a positive, powerful light on the wonderful truth of this region in Omaha: It’s here now, it has been here in the last, and despite some peoples’ wishes otherwise, it’s going to be here in the future. THAT is what I’m working for today; how about you?

The second Methodist Hospital, once located in North Omaha at North 36th and Cuming Streets.

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  1. The first unlabeled picture seemingly dating back to the 1890s or so is clearly the Mercer Mansion. The Victorian Trim was removed in the 1920s. The house seen behind no longer exists. It was the home of Mercer's friend Dr. Balbach.
    The front of the mansion is still very recognizable. However, the property now rests in a secluded midtown Oasis of woodland, far different from the photo.


  2. Hi, and thanks for your comment. I posted that picture because it was labelled as George Miller's mansion in Ralston. However, I cross-checked it after you wrote and discovered the notes I had were wrong. I've put a new picture in its place, and in addition to labeling it, I've labeled every picture in this article. Thanks again for writing!


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