A History of Lane Drug Stores in North Omaha

This is the east-facing side of Lane Drug at 24th and Ames.

For more than a century, every successful neighborhood in Omaha had its own pharmacy that sold ice cream, comics and candy. For three neighborhoods in North Omaha, those stores were opened by Harry Lane, who ran drug stores at North 16th and Locust; North 24th and Ames, and; North 30th and Fort. This is a history of Lane Drug Stores.

This is a replica of the signage used in Lane Rexall Drug stores.

A Biography of Harry C. Lane

Omaha Druggist, April 1915.
This is the header from the Omaha Druggist journal, which was published for several decades. Harry C. Lane was heavily involved in the association behind this journal.

Harry C. Lane was born in 1880. At the age of 18, in 1898, he opened his first drug store in North Omaha. Eight years later he married Fay Smith of a longstanding family in Florence. The young couple lived at 2508 Ames Avenue after they were married, and by this point Harry had been operating his drug store for almost a decade.

One of Fay and Harry’s daughters, Betty, was an aspiring teacher who graduated from a private college in Tennessee. She eventually married Fred Lyman and both of them had roles in the family business. Another daughter, Faye, went to Omaha University, which was just down the street from her family’s home. She married another student from OU named John Gale. At some point, the elder Lanes moved to 2242 Fowler Avenue, a block away from their 24th and Ames Avenue location, while their house title was transferred to their daughter Faye. Harry and Fay had a son named Harry Bert Lane who lived in Arlington, Virginia, who graduated from the West Point Academy in 1939. They also had a daughter named Julie Alice Lane who married James Lane in Ogalalla, Nebraska.

The Lanes were involved in Omaha’s high society, with their daughter’s wedding engagements and other family events regularly announced in the Omaha World-Herald. In February 1953, the newspaper included a note that mother Faye became the first-ever president of the Saratoga School PTA in 1921, while her daughter Faye became president in ’53, making them the first mother-daughter pair to lead a PTA in Omaha.

Harry was involved in the Omaha Retail Druggists’ Association, serving on several committees and as the vice-president. Newspaper articles associated him with St. John’s Episcopal Church throughout his life, which was located at North 26th and Fowler in his lifetime. It was also the location of his funeral.

Harry Lane died in June 1966 at the age of 86. He had 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren when he died. Lane and his wife are buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery.


Store 1: North 24th and Ames Avenue

Lane Drug, 24th and Ames, North Omaha, Nebraska
Lane Drug at North 24th and Ames was opened in 1898 and closed in 1970.

In 1898, Harry Lane opened his first operation in North Omaha. The store was called the Saratoga Drug Store, and opened in the former (second) Saratoga Hotel at North 24th and Ames. This area was one of the first neighborhoods in the entire Omaha area, as it was originally an 1854 river town. After it lost its townhood, the area grew into an urban suburb, replete with all the amenities of any successful neighborhood, including grocery stores, taverns, restaurants and bars, as well as churches, social halls and more. Streetcars constantly roamed past the store since a major streetcar barn was kitty corner to the store for 50 years. Lane’s was a central landmark for more than 70 years, and there are still fond memories of the business.

For instance, from the 1910s onward, the Saratoga Drug Store had a large ice cream freezer in the backroom and made their own ice cream every Saturday morning for more than 25 years. In 1910, a branch of the Omaha library started operating inside Lane’s. There was a small collection of books there, and an automobile delivered new books three times weekly. “A large circulation of books” was planned, because Lane’s was seen as a busy place with a lot of foot traffic.

Starting in 1920, this store was called Lane Drug, and Harry Lane’s enterprise expanded.

Harry Lyman’s daughter Betty married Fred Lyman, and that couple ran the store after her father passed away. Mrs. Lyman closed the store after a several break-ins in 1970.

This store closed on March 22, 1970.


Store 2: North 30th and Fort Streets

Lane Rexall Drug Store, North Omaha, Nebraska

Starting in 1910, the Post Pharmacy at 2920 Fort Street served soldiers with the Army at Fort Omaha, as well as the Miller Park neighborhood. By 1924, Harry Lane bought the business and was operating it as another Lane’s Drug Store location. Charles McManus moved to Omaha and became the pharmacist at this location in 1948. In 1954, Lane renovated the building after longtime tenants there passed away and the store closed. The building was gone by 1964, bulldozed to make room for the new Mister C’s restaurant parking lot.


Store 3: North 16th and Locust Street

Lane Drug, N. 16th and Locust, North Omaha, Nebraska
A then-and-now graphic of 1968 and 2016 at the entrance to Lane Drug on N. 16th and Locust.

Lane’s Drug Store opened on the northwest corner of North 16th and Locust Streets in 1923. Before him, Chester Blake operated a drug store on this corner for at least 25 years, during when it was also called the Bradish-Blake Drug Store. Lane’s Drug Store address there was at 2902 North 16th Street.

When Lane’s moved in, he made a longterm commitment that lasted almost 50 years. However, even that determination had limits: after the Omaha World-Herald reported that Lane’s 16th Street location had been firebombed twice in 1967. It was targeted again in other acts of violence in 1969 and 1970.

Lane Drug, 16th and Locust, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is Harry Lane standing inside Lane Drug at 16th and Locust after a car smashed through the window on February 28, 1947.

The 16th and Locust location of Lane’s Drug closed in 1973. Around that time, the restaurant next door closed. The Corby Theatre down the street was closed. While a new Hinky Dinky building was opened across the street in 1969, there were no other new businesses in the intersection for a long time. The drive-through at 16th and Binney closed, the Max I Walker Cleaners moved out, and the professional offices on the second floor across the street from the drug store closed.

The intersection was never the same.


Related Links

Elsewhere Online


BONUS PICS!

Lanes Drug 24th and Ames
Lane Drug, N. 24th and Ames, North Omaha, Nebraska
This was the former home of Lane Drug at N. 24th and Lane Streets in 2011, just before it was demolished. The building sat empty for more than 30 years.
Lane Drug Company, North 24th and Ames Avenue, North Omaha, Nebraska
Visible here is the Lane Drug Company at North 24th and Ames Avenue in the Saratoga neighborhood.
Lane Drug, North 16th and Locust, North Omaha, Nebraska
A very blurry 1954 pic of Lane Drug at N. 16th and Locust.

Published by Adam Fletcher

An internationally recognized expert in youth engagement, Adam leads the Freechild Institute and SoundOut. He is also the editor NorthOmahaHistory.com; the author of Student Voice Revolution and twelve other books; and the host of the North Omaha History Podcast.

4 thoughts on “A History of Lane Drug Stores in North Omaha

  1. Thanks again Adam. You’ve stirred up some great old memories again. I remember eating hamburgers at the drive-in at sixteenth and Binney, working at the sheet metal shop across Binney from the drive-in, shopping at Wolfs, waiting for the streetcar in Lanes Drug at both the 16th and 24th locations, and getting my hair cut at the little barber shop several doors south of Wolf’s. The barber was Italien, and always had the Saturday Metropolitan Opera broadcast on when I was there. On the second floor of Wolfs was a dentist office where I had a tooth filled. The dentist’s name was Dr. Scar, and his drill was operated with a foot pedal. The office was decorated with a lot of potted plants and stuffed animals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Don, thank you so much—it’s great to hear those memories, and makes the place come to life in my imagination. I would love to hear more if you want to share. Do you remember the ice cream place at 16th and Locust? The grocery stores? Movies? What was the streetcar like? Just curious…

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      1. I really liked riding the streetcars. They had a heavy solid feeling as they glided smoothly along. They had a kind of low pitched whine that rose as they accelerated. I remember one day on the way home from North High on the street car; we were at 24th and Ames across from Lanes Drug, when some of the boys pulled the trolly off the overhead cable and disabled the car. The conductor was not amused. They also had been playing a game of punching eachother in the crotch. I don’t remember an ice cream place at 16th and Locust, but I do remember one of those little frame Reeds ice cream stands at 21st and Locust in East Omaha. The lady who worked there was Mrs Ackley. She was later transferred to a location on north 30th, and we would go up there often to see her. There was a kind of upscale restaurant at the air port called the Hayden House. They also had a location at 16th and Locust. I think the 16th location was the original one. It was located in the first or second building north of Lanes. We went to the Corby theater occasionally; I remember having a crush on a french actress (can’t remember her name right now) who was having a rivalry with Zsa Zsa Gabor, and seeing billboard pictures of them outside the theater. The building on the south west corner of 16th and Binney was a sheet metal shop where I worked. I got the job because my mother worked at the Box Factory and one of the Box Factory managers was associated with the tin shop. The original Hinky Dinky was set back from Locust and the space between the building and the street was the parking lot. There was a little curb that separated the parking lot from the sidewalk. We used to sit on the curb while waiting for the East Omaha bus which stopped right in front of us. Hinky Dinky was where Mom did her weekly shopping. There was an owner operated store directly across Locust from Hinky Dinky. They always had large fruit and vegetables displays in front. I don’t remember ever shopping there though. I always thought Mr Lane was a nice man. He always let us stand in his warm stores in the winter to wait for the streetcar. We crowded in taking up space with snow melting off our feet all over his floors and hardly ever buying anything.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Don, this is AMAZING, thank you so much. People have been slow to realize the power of sharing our histories, but your story helps me understanding why that needs to be changed.

        Feel free to share anything, anytime.

        Like

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