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
- 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
- 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
- Address: 3524 Hawthorne Avenue
- Architecture: Stick / Eastlake / Queen Anne
13. Anna Wilson’s House
- Built: 1889
- Address: 2018 Wirt Street
- Architecture: Eastlake / Queen Anne
- Demolished: 1970
- Article: Anna Wilson’s Home
14. Parker Mansion
- Built: 1854
- Address: 3012 Vane Street
- Architecture: Unknown
- Demolished: 1956
- Article: Parker Estate
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