- Built: 1885
- Address: 3612 North 24th Street
- Architecture: Eastlake Style
- Demolished: 1916
The most famous mansion built in North Omaha was probably the Mayne Mansion, also known as the Redick Mansion. Clifton E. Mayne was a pioneer real estate investor and salesman in the city. In the 1870s, a farmer built a little house along Saunders Street leading north out of Omaha. He sold ten acres and his little farmhouse to Mayne in 1885.
A Wealthy Man’s Mansion
Clifton Mayne was wealthy and determined to build a monument to his own success, quickly built his new home. It was built in the Eastlake style from the remnants of an earlier farm house located at the same spot. Standing near the intersection of North 24th and Pratt Streets, Mayne kept 10 acres along with the home and carriage house.
The house’s tower, several fireplaces and the gingerbread-trimmed veranda made the home a “Victorian extravaganza,” as mentioned in one Omaha architectural guide.
The house had 20 rooms total. After entering through a large wraparound porch, visitors were immediately greeted by a formal Victorian foyer, and then ushered to the grand oak parlor. A large kitchen held its own dining table, as well as a formal dining room. Hardwood floors, twelve foot ceilings, plenty of bedrooms, and a large basement including a wine cellar were features in the mansion. Mayne also built a five story tower on the mansion, with a fancy viewing area at the top. Located on a wide, flat plain, this tower could see miles in every direction. The estate itself felt expansive, with fine trees planted along its edges, a large prairie held the wonders of nature for Mayne. He also expanded on a fruit orchard planted by the farmer before him.
As a wheeler and dealer in the early city’s growth, Mayne threw lavish parties and regularly hosted his colleagues and dignitaries in his home. However, the party didn’t last long because Mayne’s fortunes waxed and waned with Omaha. When the city hit hard times in the late 1870s, he had to sell his crown jewel.
John Redick was a pioneer lawyer, politician and judge in Omaha. When Mayne had to sell the mansion in 1878, Redick was there to pick up the beautiful home. Acquiring a quarter section of land around the mansion, Judge Redick raised his family in the home for the next few decades. In those years, he and his wife Mary hosted a plethora of social events, making the home…
For more than 15 years, the Redicks held an open house on New Years Day, along with all the social activities for their popular children, including John Jr., Oak, George, Albert and Elmer. When Judge Redick’s wife died in 1896, he remarried and moved away. His son Oak managed the home, and inherited it in 1908 when Judge Redick died. It was during Oak’s life that Augustus Kountze, who owned the land around the mansion, started selling lots in his Kountze Place neighborhood. By this point, the Redick Mansion was regarded as an old house and lots its desirableness.
Becoming Redick Hall
In 1909, Oak Redick joined the board of a new higher education institution called the University of Omaha. Originally offering them the entire estate for $100,000, the board failed to raise all of the money they needed. Consequently, Oak sold them just the mansion and a city block’s worth of land for $25,000. They renamed it Redick Hall and used it as their primary building for the five years.
Students at the University loved the old house. Many of their notes and poems fawned over it, celebrating the halls, kitchen and creepy spaces throughout.
Taken Apart and Shipped Away
After using the building for several years, in 1916 the University sold the mansion to a resort on Keeley Island on Lake Shetek near Currie, Minnesota. Workers dismantled the entire home and loaded it onto railcars, which shipped it to the Vahalla Resort, located on Vahalla Island in Lake Shetek. Rebuilt and renamed the Valhalla Pavilion, it was a roaring celebration for visitors until 1928, when it burnt down in a fire.
The University of Omaha built a new hall in the same place and expanded the campus. In the 1930s, it moved to 60th and Dodge and was renamed the University of Nebraska – Omaha.
Today, the location of the Redick Mansion is occupied by the 12-story Evans Tower, a public housing project for senior citizens. There is no historical marker, monument or plaque designating the location of this once-vibrant North Omaha landmark.
You Might Like…
- A History of Mansions and Estates in North Omaha
- A History of N. 24th St.
- A History of Florence Boulevard
- A Wirt Street Historic District
- A History of North Omaha’s Omaha University Campus
- “Redick Mansion,” by Tim McMahon from the Summer 1996 UNO Alum. An interview with Harry Walters, an amateur historian and “Redick Mansion fanatic.”
- “Throwback Thursday: Redick Hall,” University of Nebraska at Omaha