A History of North Omaha’s Binney Street

Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska

North Omaha’s Kountze Place neighborhood is a wealth of beautiful homes, churches, and historic sites. Omaha banker and investor Augustus Kountze bought these 160 acres of prairie land in the 1870s. With early buyers taking large plots around his, Kountze started laying out lots in the area in the 1880s.

Soon naming it Kountze Place, Augustus made sure Omaha’s early trolleys came right to his new suburb. In short order, he also installed gas street lamps and sidewalks on the main streets, and encouraged all sorts of businesses and institutions to move in. Opening in 1890, he Presbyterian Hospital was an early neighbor. It was only a few years earlier that Omaha’s grand Prettiest Mile Boulevard, later called Florence Boulevard, was laid out right through Kountze’s land, and that didn’t hurt development either.

In the 1890s, Kountze became urgent about growing his neighborhood, and in 1898 he hosted the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in the area. In the next several years, the rest of his neighborhood filled in. In the decade after the Expo, the University of Omaha opened in the neighborhood, along with the Swedish Mission Hospital across the street. Kountze Park was also developed, and the area flourished.

Binney Street’s Roots

Sacred Heart Church 2206 Binney Street North Omaha Nebraska 68111
Built in 1902 in the Gothic Revival Style, the Sacred Heart Church is located at 2206 Binney Street.

Binney Street was one of the early streets in Kountze Place to fill up with beautiful homes. There were reasons for that.

In 1897, Kountze donated land to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church to relocate their church to the site. Moving quickly, their old building stood on the site for only a few years. In 1902, popular Omaha architects Fischer and Lawrie designed the grand gothic, traditionally-laid out building that stands today. Recognized for its significance in 1983, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places then. The church also hosts a school across the street, and a rectory next door.

I mention Sacred Heart first because its beauty reputedly caused the rest of Binney Street to build up quickly after it was done. Many people wanted to live near its regality, and knew that its construction would bring up the value of the neighborhood. It did that precise thing, and through the 1940s the neighborhood’s homes held their value.

Other churches on Binney Street included Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, which built a new building there in the 1890s and left the neighborhood in the 1940s. Established as Omaha’s Black Episcopal church, St. Philip the Deacon built a new structure on Binney Street in 1949. In 1986, they joined another north Omaha church to integrate congregations and launched the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection. Immanuel Baptist Church was located at North 24th Street between Binney and Pinkney Streets.

Easter Day Tornado of 1913

Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, N. 21st and Binney Streets, Omaha, Nebraska
This is the former Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church at N. 21st and Binney Streets after the 1913 Easter Sunday Tornado. It rebuilt, and the building stands today.

In 1913, the biggest tornado ever to strike Omaha ripped along Binney Street in this area. Many homes along the block were obliterated by the F5 monstrosity, including both grand, whimsical wealthy peoples’ houses, and tiny workers homes. More than other streets in Kountze Place, Binney seemed to be a target.

The most regal era of Binney Street was approximately from 1890 through 1930. During this forty-year span all of the grandest homes were built, the most opulent churches were founded, and the upper-class gentry lived there. Socialites, the business elite, civic leaders and others called Binney Street home. Perhaps one of the most famous homes on the street is the John P. Bay House, built in 1887 for a very successful Omaha businessman. After he moved away, the home was bought by another businessman named Thomas Fry, and when he died in 1932 a letter to the editor might have mourned the entire neighborhood’s transition by saying,

“The Fry home, known for the past 35 years for its generous hospitality, is now a relic of days gone by. The passing of such a house can never be forgotten by the older residents of Binney Street, for it was a home wherein hospitality and good cheer were dispensed with a lavish hand. In a changing Omaha, there are but a few left of this type of ye good old days.”

Omaha World-Herald, December 16, 1934.

The picture at the top of this article was taken in 1896. Many of the homes shown have been obliterated—but the reason was even more heinous than many people imagine.

Redlining and White Flight

This is a 1930s era US federal government Home Owners Loan Corporation map from the US Library of Congress. It was found by Palma Joy Strand, a professor at Creighton Law School and the Werner Institute 2040 Initiative at Creighton University.
This is an official 1930s era US federal government Home Owners Loan Corporation map from the US Library of Congress. Redlining dictated anyplace where Blacks lived was dangerous. This map was located and shared with me by Palma Joy Strand, professor at Creighton Law School and with the Werner Institute 2040 Initiative at Creighton University.

However, Omaha’s racist redlining practices began in earnest in the 1940s, largely bordered by Binney Street. Strict informal and formal guidelines from Sacred Heart’s parish members focused on maintaining their neighborhood’s white chokehold prevented African Americans from moving northward from the Near North Side neighborhood. A neighborhood covenant was imposed, and African Americans were kept out by discrimination from the bankers, real estate agents, insurers and homeowners that controlled the neighborhood’s real estate transactions.
Despite their feelings of supremacy and dominance though, eventually housing discrimination was banned in Omaha and African Americans moved into Kountze Place. Today, the neighborhood is still home to many fine homes, and Sacred Heart Church continues to exist.

Fine Homes on Binney Street

The following homes are examples of some of the opulent and more normal houses that were built throughout the neighborhood. They were designed in a number of interesting styles, with a few on the National Register of Historic Places and designated Omaha Landmarks.

1512 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
1512 Binney Street is a grand old lady. Built in 1905, it has four bedrooms and two baths covering 1,600 square feet!
1612 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
Built in 1907, 1612 Binney Street reflects Kountze Place’s fixation with Neo-Classical design. Its not hard to imagine this 1,900 square foot house as a Greek temple!
1617 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
1617 Binney was built in 1915. This beautiful home has almost 2,000 square feet, including four bedrooms and two bathrooms.
1627 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
Built at 1627 Binney Street in 1916, this Neo-Classical home features stout columns, stonework, and a beautiful, large lawn. It has a grand deck on the rear, and a sweet gazebo in the yard.
1624 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
This Neo-Classical style home at 1624 Binney Street in Kountze Place was built in 1904. Reflecting influences from the Trans-Mississippi Exposition five years earlier, it clearly needs love! But at 2,000 square feet in four bedrooms and with two and a half baths, the possibilities seem endless!
1813 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
1813 Binney Street in has over 2,200 square feet, and was built in 1906.
2105 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
This then-and-now comparison graphic shows 2105 Binney Street in 1900 and 2015. This once-grand dame has 2,000 square feet, four bedrooms, two bathrooms.
1819 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
1819 Binney Street was built in 1888, BEFORE Kountze Place was popular. Stripped of its Eastlake-style details outside, clues from the Douglas County Assessor make me think the inside might be a treasure.
1910 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
Built in 1907, this grand mansion at 1910 Binney Street was probably converted to apartments in the 1920s. Many in North Omaha were. See that four-story tower sticking out?
George H. Kelly House, 1924 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
The George H. Kelly House at 1924 Binney Street was built in Kountze Place by architect George Kelly. Its strong Neo-Classical design was named an Omaha Landmark in 1983, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Boulevard Tearoom (1930s), North Omaha, Nebraska
Located at Binney Street and Florence Boulevard, 2919 Florence Boulevard is a 3,000 square foot house is STILL high style! Built in 1909, its eclectic style mixes Neo-Classical, Arts and Crafts, and Tudor Renaissance for a beautiful result. All through the 1930s, the Omaha World-Herald listed all sorts of social activities happening at the Boulevard Tearoom at this address.
2004 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
2004 Binney Street is a stately brick home built in 1904 in popular Neo-Classical style.
John P. Bay House, 2024 Binney Street, Kountze Place, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is the John P. Bay House at 2024 Binney Street in the Kountze Place neighborhood. Built in the Queen Anne style, it is in the heart of North Omaha.
2102 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
2102 Binney Street in the Kountze Place neighborhood was designed by popular North Omaha architect Everett S. Dodds and built in 1921. It features a low Prairie-style roofline, a foursquare intention on the exterior and some Italianate flourishes.
2120 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
In this then-and-now comparison of the home at 2120 Binney Street, we see typical home in the Kountze Place neighborhood from 1907, and its appearance in 2015. Built in the Eastlake style, today its a stout, well-maintained home.
2407 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
Built in 1905 at 2407 Binney Street, this strong building shows a vernacular design that’s also becoming lost to time. Once typical in North Omaha, most of this style of duplex has been demolished and now they’re rare in Omaha.
2512 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
Built in 1895 at 2512 Binney Street, this Eastlake style home has more than 2,000 square feet.
2607 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
This cross-gambrel Craftsman house was built in 1900 at 2607 Binney Street. With 1,500 square feet, its not the biggest, but is a GREAT example of this model of home!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour! Feel free to share it with your friends, and leave a comment below. Thanks!

General: Kountze Place | Kountze Park | 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
Education: Omaha University | Presbyterian Theological Seminary | Lothrop Elementary School | Horace Mann Junior High |
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 »

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Trinity Methodist Church, 2031 Binney Street, Kountze Place, North Omaha, Nebraska
This building was originally Trinity Methodist Church, located at 2031 Binney St. in Kountze Place. Today it home to the Church of the Living God.

These houses and buildings have been associated with Sacred Heart Catholic Church since 1900 and earlier.

Sunday School at Immanuel Baptist Church, N. 24th and Binney Streets, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is the Sunday School at Immanuel Baptist Church, once located at N. 24th Street between Pinkney and Binney Streets.
1805 Binney Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
This circa 1905 ad shows the home at 1805 Binney Street featured 8-rooms, “a good frame” and more. Houses on this section of Binney Street were elaborate, large and often stately.
Then and Now of 21st and Binney, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is a then-and-now comparison of N. 21st and Binney in North Omaha in 1896 and in 2016.


    1. I absolutely agree with you Brenda! One thing I love about North O is that there are these gigantic beauties and small hidden beauties scattered around the whole neighborhood! All well-built!


  1. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this story with it’s beautiful pictures! I grew up at 2130 Binney st! Our home was definitely one of the STAND OUT homes! It should have been grandfathered in! When my parents moved in 1985 the home was soon demolished. VERY heartbreaking! Feel free to contact me. I’ll pull out some pictures of our 4 story, 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom family home for your enjoyment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aunty!!! This was EVERYTHING!!! Seeing the street we grew up on was amazing!!! And you meant when my parents moved “out” not “in” that house was absolutely BEAUTIFUL it definitely stood out with the big picture window, wrap around porch, servants serving window from kitchen to dining room, back servants stairs and living quarters, French doors in foyer, sliding doors to formal living room, fireplace in formal living room and upstairs in grandparents master bedroom, babies room connected to parents room (your room) basement connected to garage!!! And we all went to Sacred Heart 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a picture of Immanuel Baptist Church, but it had First German Baptist Church inscribed on the window in German. Circa 1915 I believe, maybe after Immanuel Baptist congration moved to another building.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My grandfather own everyhouse on binney street from 14th to 16th.i can remember the whole block was mostly are family.The Houses are depleting know but It’s a time I’ll never forget.Then when I got older I moved to 14th And Wirt St and raised my family there and still live there today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I lived @2004 Binney street–,it was an awesome old house, wish I’d had what I needed to fix it and stay..thank you for this article, sir, evance

    Liked by 1 person

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