Mansions and Estates

Once upon a time, North Omaha was littered with large mansions and estates. This article summarizes some of them.

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Former mansions in North Omaha, Nebraska

North Omaha has been home to several large mansions and estates, especially in its early years. Built in the grand tradition of the United States’ wealthy families, they were intended to broadcast success, ensure comfort and secure lusciousness right after the pioneer era of young Omaha.

Built throughout the area north of Omaha, these fine homes belonged to real estate moguls, nouveau riche businessmen, and old Eastern inheritors that moved west. Some were elegant and restrained, while others simply oozed money. None of these mansions were built to be accessible, either; instead, they all sat on regal country estates that were determined to be inaccessible to the everyman workers living in the city.

There were even rows of mansions in North Omaha. For instance, on Wirt Street between 18th and 22nd, there were more than a dozen very large houses with many rooms. The Major Wilcox mansion at 2100 Wirt was next to the Weller mansion at 2102 Wirt, which was down the street from the Alfred Jones mansion at 2018 Wirt.

This article is a history of early mansions and country estates in North Omaha.


1. The Redick Mansion

The Mayne Mansion at present-day N. 24th and Evans Streets.
  • Built: 1885
  • Address: 3612 North 24th Street
  • Architecture: Eastlake Style
  • Demolished: 1916
  • Article: John I. Redick Mansion

The most famous mansion built in North Omaha is probably the Mayne Mansion, also known as the Redick Mansion. The house had 20 rooms total. In 1909, John Redick’s son sold the mansion and a city block’s worth of land to the University of Omaha. They renamed it Redick Hall and used it as their primary building for the five years. In 1916 the University sold the mansion to a resort on Keeley Island on Lake Shetek near Currie, Minnesota. Renamed the Valhalla Pavilion, it burnt down in a fire in 1928.


2. Poppleton Estate

The A. J. Poppleton Estate as seen from Sherman Avenue.
  • Built: 1885
  • Address: 2232 N. 16th Street
  • Architecture: Victorian Gothic Style
  • Demolished: est. 1945
  • Article: Poppleton Estate

Poppleton was an early lawyer, politician and real estate speculator in Omaha. Serving as a Nebraska Territorial legislator, he was also the second mayor of Omaha. He built his large brick mansion with 15 rooms overlooking the Missouri River valley.


3. The J. J. Brown Mansion

The J. J. Brown Mansion
  • Built: 1870s
  • Address: 2225 Sherman Avenue
  • Architecture: Italianate Style
  • Demolished: 1911
  • Article: J. J. Brown Mansion

A businessman and investor, J. J. Brown ran a wholesaling company in Omaha. With his 12 room mansion on the bluffs along sixteenth, he meant to should the world his wealth. It featured a large porch and 11 foot high ceilings in almost all of the rooms. There was a large drawing room where he hosted his daughter’s high society wedding in 1896. Brown died in 1901. In 1903, the home became the second location for the Wise Memorial Hospital. After they moved in 1908, the mansion was destroyed.


4. McCreary Mansion

The John McCreary Mansion.
  • Built: 1876
  • Address: 3706 North 24th Street
  • Architecture: Italianate
  • Demolished: 1926
  • Article: The McCreary Mansion

The year after his mansion was finished, McCreary retired to his estate and focused on improving his land. Located immediately north of John Redick’s estate, McCreary had ten acres of land. McCreary started with a two story Italianate style home that had a dozen rooms, just outside the city limits. Popular Omaha builder Francis Dellone and his brother designed and built the home for McCreary. In the 1890s, McCreary added another floor to the house for a total of 15 rooms. In 1905, McCreary sold his home and it became the Swedish Mission Hospital. It was demolished in 1926.


5. Bailey House

The Bailey Residence
  • Built: 1875 estimated
  • Address: 1504 North 19th Street
  • Architecture: Eastlake Style
  • Demolished: 1900 estimated
  • Article: The Bailey Residence

Built by an Englishman named Frank Bailey, this home is a fine example of the Eastlake style. Its beautiful features highlight the spectacular beauty of the Eastlake style, which valued ways to manipulate wood into looking beautiful. Its ironic, too: Bailey was one of Omaha’s premier brickmakers, operating a large plant that produced thousands of bricks daily.


6. Mercer Mansion

The Mercer Mansion in North Omaha, Nebraska.
The Mercer Mansion is located at 3920 Cuming Street in the Walnut Hill neighborhood.
  • Built: 1885
  • Address: 3920 Cuming Street
  • Architecture: Queen Anne Revival Style

As the chief surgeon of the Union Pacific Railroad, Dr. Samuel Mercer traveled the U.S. and saw many places. When he retired from the railroad, he founded Omaha’s first hospital and got into real estate by developing North Omaha’s exclusive Walnut Hill neighborhood. The jewel of the area was his home, a grand 23-room red brick mansion built in the Queen Anne style. Costing more than $60,000 to build, it features a four story tower and exquisite woodwork throughout the home. In the 1920s, the Victorian trim was removed and the house was subdivided into apartments. However, today the home is still owned by Mercer’s descendents, who are essential to the entire city’s history.


7. Smyth House

The Smyth House
  • Built: 1906
  • Address: 710 North 38th Street
  • Architecture: Neo-Classical Revival

The Smyth House was built in 1906 in Omaha’s new Gold Coast District. Still standing today, it includes beautiful gardens under a canopy of 100 year old oak trees, and is the private residence of the Herchenbach family, who purchased the property in August 2013.


8. Governor’s Mansion

The Governor’s Mansion
  • Built: 1876 estimate
  • Address: North 16th and Grace Streets
  • Architecture: Second Italianate Renaissance
  • Demolished: 1972 estimate
  • Article: Saunders Mansion

Built by Territorial Governor Alvin Saunders, this fine mansion was built by the last governor as a celebration of his wealth after losing his money during the financial panic of 1873. That year he was forced to sell his downtown home, built during his governorship. He built this one better, using brick and the finest architecture of the period. It may have stood for almost a century afterwards.


9. Nash Mansion

The Nash Mansion
  • Built: est. 1885
  • Address: 3806 Burt Street
  • Architecture: Queen Anne / Eastlake Style
  • Demolished: est. 1920

This home features a lot of exquisite woodwork that’s typical of the Eastlake style. Its soaring tower, stately chimneys and beautiful first floor wraparound porch are accentuated by second story porches, as well as a grand entry stairway and other beautiful features.


10. The Dexter Thomas House

The Thomas House
  • Built: est. 1875
  • Address: 938 North 27th Street
  • Architecture: Stick Style
  • Demolished: est. 1910

The Dexter Thomas House was the prototypical Omaha Stick style house in the 1870s. Highlighting the beauty of wood, the photo above shows the house had beautiful corner posts, lintels, and window frames. Even when the Thomas House sprawls the rear, the tall windows and steep roofs keep us looking skyward. There are also carved brackets and spandrels, clipped gable roofs, a detailed sash, and knee-braces on the porch posts. Oh, and the five story tower, there’s that too.


11. Stroud Mansion

The Stroud Mansion at 5100 Florence Boulevard in North Omaha, Nebraska.
The Stroud Mansion in a real estate photo.
  • Built: 1909
  • Address: 5100 Florence Boulevard
  • Architecture: Neo-Classical
  • Demolished: 1969
  • Article: Stroud Mansion

Just after the turn-of-the-century, a wagon maker named T. F. Stroud built a fine Southern-style estate in North Omaha. With more than 1,800 acres, his home was situated off Florence Boulevard north of the old town of Saratoga on Browne Street. The Stroud Mansion was built with at least nine rooms, including six bedrooms. Over the next 50 years, the home switched hands several times and was eventually demolished to make room for the Omaha Housing Authority’s senior home called the Florence Tower.


12. Zabriskie Mansion

Zabriskie Mansion at 3524 Hawthorne Avenue in the Bemis Park neighborhood of North Omaha, Nebraska.
Zabriskie Mansion at 3524 Hawthorne Avenue in the Bemis Park neighborhood of North Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Built:1889
  • Address: 3524 Hawthorne Avenue
  • Architecture: Stick / Eastlake / Queen Anne
One of the first homes in Bemis Park, the Zabriskie Mansion is one of the finest Queen Anne style structures ever in Omaha. Its original owner was a ship officer, American Civil War veteran, Union Pacific general agent and accountant. Multiple wall surfaces, high multiple rooftops, a round turret, straight and round-arched windows and prominent gables and chimneys have been preserved excellently, and today is in excellent condition.

13. Anna Wilson’s House

 

Anna Wilson Mansion 2018 Wirt, North Omaha, Nebraska
A. D. Jones, Dr. Elizabeth Reeves, Robert Beech Howell, Anna Wilson, the Omaha Old Peoples Home Association, the Crosby Funeral Home, and many others touched the house at 2018 Wirt Street in Kountze Place from 1891 to 1970.

 

  • Built: 1889
  • Address: 2018 Wirt Street
  • Architecture: Eastlake / Queen Anne
  • Demolished: 1970
  • Article: Anna Wilson’s Home
Built by Omaha settler Alfred Jones toward the end of his life, the home at 2018 Wirt Street sat on a 10 acre lot that was covered by fruit trees. Notorious madame Anna Wilson bought it after the turn of the century, filling it with her huge library and fine art, as well as covering the grounds with beautiful flowers and other fineries. When she died in 1911, it was bequeathed to the Omaha Old Folks’ Home, which sold it. The house was then sold several other times before it was demolished.

14. Parker Mansion

The Parker Mansion at 3012 Vane Street in the Florence Field neighborhood.
The Parker Mansion at 3012 Vane Street in the Florence Field neighborhood.
  • Built: 1854
  • Address: 3012 Vane Street
  • Architecture: Unknown
  • Demolished: 1956
  • Article: Parker Estate
Started being built by Florence banker James M. Parker, the Parker Mansion was finished by his son Fred. However, Fred wasn’t satisfied with any part of his father’s estate, including the hundreds of acres he inherited spread throughout North Omaha. He sold most of it off, keeping a 10-acre estate and building a grant museum on the boundary between Florence and Omaha. Sprawling across his compound, there were mystery tunnels, beautiful art and ghost stories surrounding the Parker Estate. It was all dismantled and demolished by 1956 though, and today there’s no trace left.

Other Mansions

There have been many, many other mansions and estates in North Omaha that I am only beginning to uncover. The include…

  • Weller Mansion, 2102 Wirt Street—17 rooms that became a hospital. In 1919, it sold for $25,000.
  • Major Wilcox Mansion—2100 Wirt Street

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Author: Adam Fletcher

I'm a writer and speaker who teaches people about engaging people. I specialize in youth engagement in communities, at home and through education. Learn more at adamfletcher.net

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