A History of the Bailey Residence in North Omaha

Bailey Mansion, North Omaha, Nebraska
  • Built: 1875 estimated
  • Address: 1504 North 19th Street
  • Architecture: Eastlake Style
  • Demolished: 1900 estimated

When Omaha was first starting up in the 1850s and 1860s, it was built with wood. Wood-frame stores, hotels, homes and boarding houses were all over. There were some soddies, too.

One of the first people to help the city move past its pioneer past was an Englishman named Francis Bailey. Born in 1833, he immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio with his parents in 1850. Opening his first brickmaking business there in 1854, he operated in Cleveland until he was 36 years old.

It was that year, 1869, that Bailey came to Omaha. After running his business alone for a year, he took on Samuel Cafferty as a partner. When Cafferty died, Bailey partnered with Ole Olson in a new business.

The Millard Hotel was built by Bailey’s company in 1882 with his brick, and advertised as fireproof. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1933.

Business Booms

The business boomed. Suddenly, Bailey and Olson were contracting and building across the city of Omaha, using their own product to complete exquisite brick building contracts. Together, they built homes, businesses and churches across Omaha.

For instance, they built the Millard Hotel. Built as a posh hotel downtown, the five-story building opened in 1882 on the northeast corner of 13th and Douglas Streets. Unfortunately, 50 years later this hotel burnt down, killing seven firefighters and wounding 22 others in the process.

In 1885, Bailey and Olson’s brickmaking company was making 3,000,000 bricks per year and employing more than 50 men between their brickworks and contracting department. Bailey’s company built the Creighton Block in 1875 and the Burlington and Missouri Railroad Headquarters in 1878; the Max Meyer Block in 1880; and the Millard Hotel shortly afterwards.

Frank’s contemporaries included Christian Specht, an iron cornice manufacturer who outfitted buildings across the western United States. Bailey may have been involved in architectural design, also.

Bailey retired from his business in the early 1890s.

The Burlington and Missouri Railroad headquarters as built by Bailey’s company in 1879. The building was designed by designed by Alfred R. Dufrene.

Personal Life

Bailey was married in Cleveland in 1856. He met his wife, Mary E. Hunt, in Buffalo, New York. She was a Canadian. Together, they had five children, including Frank E., Yuba K., George W., Hattie and Ross.

Bailey built his wife Mary Elizabeth Hunt their beautiful home around 1880. Built in the Queen Anne style, the home featured a lot of gingerbread, a two-side wraparound porch, and a three story tower in the corner of the house. There was also a drive-through carriage port. The fine lawn was surrounded by a short wrought iron fence.

Bailey’s fortune also came from real estate investments around the city. After buying ten acres west of present-day Creighton University, Bailey became wealthy when the land shot up in value and he sold. He served twice as an Alderman in the city in 1885 and 1887.

In 1897, Bailey and his wife Mary started spending the winter in Lampasas, Texas with his daughter. It was there that he died in 1899. His body was brought back to Omaha for a funeral at Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church, and according to his obituary, he was buried at the Prospect Hill Cemetery. Mary died in 1910, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lampasas, Texas.

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