Built in west Omaha and slowly absorbed into North O, the intersection at North 40th and Hamilton Streets has an important legacy for the city. Early on, it was the site of the Military Road as it shot west along present-day Hamilton Street.
This intersection became the nexus between several neighborhoods. The Orchard Hill, Walnut Hill, Bemis Park and Clifton Hill neighborhoods all converge here, and throughout history neighbors got donuts, bought gas, went to see movies, and more.
This is a history of the intersection at North 40th and Hamilton Streets.
The businesses in the neighborhood are located at the intersection of North 40th and Hamilton Streets, and extend westward along Hamilton. There have been businesses and services on this intersection since the 1880s, and even earlier.
A gas station has sat on the northeast corner for at least a century now, with the White Rose gas company building the first there around 1916.
Across the street to the west today is Hargiss Stringed Instruments, which was the longtime home of Martin’s Pastry. Next door to that is the historic 40th Street Theatre at 4006 Hamilton Street, which was once called the Hamilton Theater. Opened in the 1940s, it was also called the Winn Theatre, and sat 500 people. Originally a vaudeville house built in the 1890s, a lot of the building’s original character is still intact. In the 1930s, the strip was home to Thorin’s Grocery, Vern’s Barber Shop and Best Way Dry Cleaners and Hatters. During the 1940s and 50s, there was a dentist’s office, an appliance store, a dry cleaner, Gibson Grocery, a plumbing shop, an HVAC company, and a shoe repair shop. In the
There are a variety of other storefronts along Hamilton within the Orchard Hill neighborhood. Several are boarded up and presumably being used for storage, while others are filled with churches, a City of Omaha shop, an car repair shop and a tire store. Interestingly enough, there are also several historic homes mixed among the buildings between North 40th and North 41st Street, including a pair of houses built in 1895.
The Olympia Cycles building at North 40th and Hamilton was originally called the Knight Hall (not Catholic).
The Omaha Fire Department built a station at 4024 Hamilton Street in the 1890s. At some point it was demolished and replaced with another station elsewhere, and today there’s an ugly 1950s building in its place.
Starting in the 1880s, the Knight Hall hosted the Walnut Hill Methodist Episcopal Church for several years before they moved. By 1917, the church moved to the southeast corner of North 41st and Hamilton. Later, church moved into North 41st Avenue and Charles Street. In 1930, the congregation merged with several other congregations to form a new church which continues operating currently as the Saint Paul United Methodist Church in the Benson neighborhood.
The Belt Line Railway
Maybe the saddest scar in the whole neighborhood is the former Belt Line Railway. Built in the 1880s as a commuter railroad around North Omaha, the Walnut Hill depot was once located on the north side of Hamilton. After serving as a light industrial track from the 1890s to the 1980s, the Missouri Pacific Railroad, which owned the Belt Line, removed the tracks entirely throughout all of North Omaha. All that’s left in the neighborhood as proof of this once-necessary catalyst for suburban growth is a large field at the corner of Hamilton and Military Avenue. Otherwise, there are no signs.
Today’s 40th and Hamilton Historic District
The intersection of North 40th and Hamilton Street in North Omaha clearly has the pedigree necessary to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. However, little effort has been made towards this recognition.
Over the last decade, a local businessman named John Hargiss has been renovating several buildings on the northwest corner of 40th and Hamilton. His work has brought his string shop, Hargiss Instruments, to life in the former donut shop. He’s also renovated the 40th Street Theater and hosts events there.
The City of Omaha has marked Hamilton Street with special signs identifying it’s historical name as Hamilton. However, since you’ve read this whole article we now know this isn’t the original name; that honor belongs to Military Road. Nice try, City of Omaha! During the same era Hamilton was called Military, North 40th was known as Lowe Avenue, named after the founding father Jesse Lowe, whose family owned a large farm at North 40th and Cuming Street.
Maybe the future will hold historic signage and a designation of the 40th and Hamilton Historic District. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, ideas or considerations share them in the comments below!
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MY ARTICLES RELATED TO THE HISTORY OF 40TH AND HAMILTON STREETS
NEIGHBORHOODS: Orchard Hill | Walnut Hill | Bemis Park | Clifton Hill
PLACES: Walnut Hill Reservoir | Military Road | Walnut Hill Methodist Church | Belt Line Railway
OTHER: Cuming Street | Saddle Creek Road |
MY ARTICLES ABOUT THE HISTORY OF STREETS IN NORTH OMAHA
STREETS: 16th Street | 24th Street | Cuming Street | Military Avenue | Saddle Creek Road | Florence Main Street
INTERSECTIONS: 42nd and Redman | 40th and Ames | 40th and Hamilton | 30th and Ames | 24th and Fort | 30th and Fort | 24th and Lake | 16th and Locust | 20th and Lake
STREETCARS: Streetcars | Streetcars in Benson | 26th and Lake Streetcar Barn
OTHER: North Freeway
The name on the front of the Hargiss Stringed Instruments store reads W. Stein. Any history on who that person was?
Wilhelm “William” Stein was an immigrant from Luxembourg who arrived in the US in1868. Originally settling in Humboldt, Kansas as a merchant tailor.
He joined his brother Frank and with his wife, moved to Animas Forks, a small mining town in Colorado. He left there in 1887 and permanently settled in Omaha with his home at 4013 Charles.
He retired from retail in 1906 but in 1908 he secured a permit to build that building which was completed in 1910. He finally retired for good in 1915.
My mother owned 3 beauty shops on Hamilton St. There was a pharmacy on the corner of 40th and Hamilton. Next to it was Bevs Beauty Shop and barber shop next door. The building was torn down. The original was next to Martin’s Bakery I was to young to remember much about that. The third one I believe is a plumbing supply place and there used to be a little neighborhood grocery next to it. The owners of the shoe repair were Mike and Bertha Blanco. There was a bar and a dinner and a larger IGA grocery next to the pharmacy on 40th. It was a great little neighborhood. Fond memories.
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What was the name of the funeral home next to the florist shop on Hamilton and 45th street.
At one time, in the late 1960s perhaps, my Grandfather Walter Korisko purchased a mortuary on Hamilton that was Braley and Dorance (spelling?) then he added the Korisko name after the others. I remember him telling us there was a small casket in the building when he purchased it, and they discovered it contained a baby who had never been delivered to wherever it was supposed to have been buried! I’ve always felt sorry for that forgotten child!
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What was the name of the pet store near 40th & Hamilton? The guy in the pet shop was a weirdo. 1979-1982??
are you sure that you’re not thinking of 40th and Cuming, on the south side of the street? Because that guy fit your description.
Remember Big Bobs Mobil on 40th. & Hamilton? That was my first job, I wish someone had some pictures of it.
My father and his partners had a sign company at 40xx …. I think 4016? in the 50s and 60s : Cronland Signs. Can’t remember the address. It was a thriving business, creating all kinds of custom signs.. In the 70sthey moved to 134 and B street. Directly to the east was a small cafe with counter seating: Iris’ Cafe. The owners name was Iris. She made wonderful hamburgers!
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My wife knew the area well . Sad about the dog dieing in the fire