Adam’s Note: I like what the Omaha Municipal Land Bank is doing. Working with homeowners that are underwater on their residential, commercial, or other property throughout the community, this psuedo-city agency is working to bring investment back to neighborhoods by insisting on investment, upkeep and empowerment from buyers.
In support of their mission, I’m reaching out on Facebook to ask the NorthOmahaHistory.com followers which properties the Land Bank is offering that I’m interested in, too. If enough people respond, I’m researching and writing thorough summaries of the history of these properties. I have no stake in what they’re doing beyond simply wanting better for North Omaha; share your thoughts, ideas and other responses in the comment section below.
Early On In Monmouth Park
Following is the history of 3155 Meredith Avenue, a house built in 1910 in the Monmouth Park neighborhood.
There were a great adjectives used to describe this house in its early years, including “well-built,” “dandy,” “brand-new,” “nicely arranged,” “darling” and more. Originally listed for $2,500, the house was built with 5 rooms on one floor, with a full basement and floored attic. Located on “a street of fine homes,” it was on the same block as Monmouth Park School, and a mere block from the Ames Avenue streetcar.
The Hargadine family lived at 3155 Meredith early on. They listed the home for sale in 1920 for $4850, and in 1924, Etta Haller sold the house to P.C. Stein for $4,500. The house continued to sell over the next few decades, each time continuously increasing its value. By 1951, the house was advertised as having 3 bedrooms and six total rooms. It also featured a screened-in front porch and a staircase to an “expandable attic.” Its features included being a block from stores, including all the businesses in the North 30th and Ames Historic Commercial District. It was listed for $6,500.
White flight really kicked in during the 1960s, sweeping through the Monmouth Park neighborhood and taking white families with it. This left a lot of houses with absentee landlords who were often disillusioned of the neighborhood, uncommitted, unwilling or otherwise uncaring about the houses their families once lived in. Either that, or out-of-state investors bought the houses to make easy money without investing the money and energy required to keep them up-to-date.
Just prior to this, the streetcars stopped running up Ames Avenue and north and south along North 30th Street, both of which were a short block from this home. At the beginning of the 60s, the commercial properties at North 30th and Ames were actually thriving. Commercial Federal built a new facility on the corner, and the North Side Bank was lauded for doing the same at 31st and Ames, just a block from 3155 Meredith.
“Needs some minor decorating and updates.” By 1961, the house was rented out and the owner was moving from Omaha. There was a detached garage featured, along with insulation throughout the house and a full basement with fruit storage and laundry facilities. They were asking $9,150. Within 6 months, the house was being offered on land contract.
The next year the house was reduced to $8,950. It’d sold by 1964, when the occupant started selling a series of used cars from the house.
The North Omaha riots struck between 1966 and 1969, leaving many of the remaining white people feeling unsafe, as well as Black families and others in the community. White people continued to leave, but because of the informal redlining that still dominates Omaha’s real estate practices, African Americans were forced to remain in the area. Simultaneously, many of the commercial properties in the area closed, including the Kenwood Drug Store; Beacon Theater; Safeway; and others.
In 1969, a teenager who lived there was found guilty of possession after someone reported watching them pick ditchweed along Ponca Road by River Road (aka JJ Pershing Drive). There were more crimes reported in association with the house afterwards, too, with occupants being charged with assault, burglary, trespassing, disorderly conduct and more over the next 30 years. Drug possession and drunk driving appear frequently.
In 1982 and there was a fire that caused $4,000 damage. When Monmouth Park Elementary School was closed in the 80s, the surrounding neighborhood was already fractured. The school building was used as apartments through 1995, when it was demolished after a tornado hit the building.
The last individual owner for the home at 3155 Meredith was in 2001, when it was relinquished to a home equity company for $23,000. Today, the attic is finished.
In 2012, the house was valued at $37,400; in 2017, it was valued at $21,700.
Now, the home is being offered by the Omaha Municipal Land Bank for only $19,500! It has 3 bedrooms and a bathroom, sits near the Metropolitan Community College – Fort Omaha Campus and the North Omaha Transit Center. Its on a large lot, too! Applications for the home are due on or before July 31st, 2017. To learn more, check out http://ow.ly/JJGn30cVV0E
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