Immediately after World War II, there was a rush of soldiers flush with government money that allowed them to buy homes and build families right away. A lot of North Omaha finished in-filling during this period, with houses constructed in just a few months and selling a lot quicker than that. Spread across a few streets in the Miller Park neighborhood, one set of these homes created an architecturally distinct area that should be designated as a historic district and preserved quickly.
Homes for Troops
A housing shortage led developers to get creative in some parts of the community. In the Miller Park neighborhood, they created several blocks of multi-family duplexes surrounding shared parks. These homes, which I’m calling the Miller Park Duplex Historic District, are located on Laurel Avenue and Himebaugh Avenue, between North 27th Street and 24th Street.
Over these two blocks, there are more than 20 duplexes, each designed with slight variations from the other, with one-and two-story units. All of them were built in the 1940s.
In the two-story units, each side has three bedrooms and one bathroom. There are concrete stoops on them, and some have porch roofs. The single story duplexes have two bedrooms and a bathroom.
I grew up a block away from these duplexes, and I remember being mystified by the central parkland between them. When I was young, this area was overgrown and unpleasant. It was also made known that we shouldn’t go back there. However, that led some friends and I into the space in the early 1990s. We found rusted playground sets and wood on the ground, and nothing that would indicate anything of significance.
Talking with the older people at Pearl Church when I was in my late teens, I was told there had been gardens and picnic tables in the open space. It was never really developed though. At some point after their construction, many of the duplexes did have detached garages built in their backyards; few survive today.
To think of these spaces in the 1950s, packed with young families and aspiring parents! Flowers and gardens in the mornings, sandboxes and swing sets abounding during the day, and picnics and fireflies mixed at evening times. Kids shooed off to Miller Park School in the fall, and ice skates carried to the Miller Park Pond in the winter. Walking to the grocery store at North 24th and Laurel, or pulling into the Phillips 66 at North 24th and Himebaugh to gas up for a Saturday morning drive…
Local or National Landmarks?
I’m taking the privilege of naming these homes the Miller Park Duplex Historic District. There are 19 buildings comprising 38 homes clustered on two blocks with a shared park in between the duplexes.
The Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission says that they may qualify for to be designated as Omaha Landmarks, which would make reckless redevelopment a little harder. One report suggests, “An intensive evaluation of the area would assist in assessing integrity and determining historic boundaries. This collection of duplexes does not appear to meet the criteria for listing in the National Register as a historic district.”
For years, many of these homes have provided Section 8 housing, and with absentee landlords, many of them are in poor condition to say the least. However, as other deteriorated historic properties in Omaha have shown, money fixes everything and these homes could be great again.
There are 19 duplexes in the Miller Park Duplex Historic District. They are:
- 5816 and 5818 North 24th Street
- 5810 and 5812 North 24th Street
- 5802 and 5804 North 24th Street
- 2408 and 2410 Himebaugh Avenue
- 2412 and 2414 Himebaugh Avenue
- 2418 and 2420 Himebaugh Avenue
- 2426 and 2428 Himebaugh Avenue
- 2430 and 2432 Himebaugh Avenue
- 2438 and 2440 Himebaugh Avenue
- 2442 and 2444 Himebaugh Avenue
- 2450 and 2452 Himebaugh Avenue
- 5801 and 5803 North 27th Street
- 5805 and 5807 North 27th Street
- 5809 and 5811 North 27th Street
- 5815 and 5817 North 27th Street
- 5819 and 5821 North 27th Street
- 2585 and 2587 Laurel Avenue
- 2581 and 2583 Laurel Avenue
- 2577 and 2579 Laurel Avenue
There is a lot of potential for historic preservationists in Miller Park’s residential areas, and these duplexes show one reason why. As historic preservation is embraced by Omahans, its essential that the City steps up and meets people where they want to be – in historic homes like these!
You Might Like…
- A History of the Miller Park Neighborhood
- A History of The Miller Park
- A History of the Minne Lusa Historic District