North Omaha, roughly defined as the area north of Dodge Street and east of North 72nd Street, is a community in Omaha that’s absolutely filled with beautiful, astounding, renowned and hidden architectural gems. Ranging from highly stylized Queen Anne homes to masterful Midcentury Modern buildings, ornate Gothic churches to industrial vernacular former factories, the built environment of North O features a lot of diverse design, committed executions, and fascinating mashups.
Following are several of North Omaha’s architectural gems. I’m not an architect or designer, and because of that I might mess up some of the descriptions here. I am a committed fan of North O architecture though, and I know a great deal about what exists in the community today and what’s been here historically. Here are ten of my favorite buildings in North Omaha, chosen for their integrity, substance and just because I think they’re interesting.
Think I’m missing something or got something wrong? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Gem #10: Memmen Apartments
Thick classical columns raised on stone piers line the front of this building, Palladian window frames and dentil moldings mark the Memmen Apartments as a great example of the Free Classic Queen Anne style. Built in 1889, the Memmen Apartments were designed by an architect named William Elliott Findley. It was listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 2014, but is not designated an official Omaha Landmark. Learn more about the history of apartments in North Omaha »
Gem #9: George Shepard House
George Shepard was the owner of a masonry plant who built his mansion of the finest works from his business. His home was designed in the Queen Anne/Beaux-Arts style for the upscale Kountze Place neighborhood, and it was designated an Omaha Landmark in 1981. It is not listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1978, but was named an official Omaha Landmark in 1981. Learn more about Kountze Place »
Gem #8: Florence Depot
Built in 1888 in the Italianate style, the Florence Depot was an essential meeting and departure place for one of Nebraska’s oldest towns. With extensive restorations, today its a museum highlighting the railroad history of Eastern Nebraska, as well providing an account for the early growth of this neighborhood in North Omaha. This structure is not listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places or designated as an official Omaha Landmark. Learn more about historic Florence »
Gem #7: Saint John AME Church
Started in 1865, the St. John AME Church is the oldest Black church in Nebraska. In 1921, architect Frederick S. Stott designed the current building, which is widely regarded as a quality example of the Prairie style of design. Its low, horizontal lines blend into the wide, broad plain where the Near North Side neighborhood sits, along with its broad eaves, horizontal window bands, solid craftsmanship, and restrained decoration. It was listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and named an official Omaha Landmark in 1980. Learn more about the history of the Near North Side neighborhood »
Gem #6: Sacred Heart Church
Started as a suburban parish at North 26th and Sprague Streets in the early 1890s, the new Sacred Heart Church moved when Herman Kountze donated land at North 24th and Binney Streets. In 1902, architects Fischer and Lawrie designed the Gothic Revival style building in a traditional cross-shape, with a school, a convent, a grotto and other buildings surrounding it. It was listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and named an official Omaha Landmark in 1983. Learn the history of churches in North Omaha »
Gem #5: Florence Bank
Built as a wildcat bank in 1856, the Florence Bank was funded by a group of speculators as a get-rich-quick scheme. The oldest building in Omaha, it stands as the crown of historic Florence today. It houses an early Florence history museum, and shows what the bank manager’s living quarters upstairs looked like. It was listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1969, and named an official Omaha Landmark in 1980. Learn more about the oldest places in North Omaha »
Gem #4: Saint Cecilia Cathedral
Started in 1905, it took more than 50 years to build the St. Cecilia Cathedral. Designed by famed Omaha architect Thomas Rogers Kimball, its exquisite Spanish Revival style architecture is a masterpiece, and more than a century later it is clearly one of the most significant buildings in the entire city of Omaha. The dual bell towers rise above the southern part of North Omaha, and are clear beacons for this entire region of the city. It was listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and named an official Omaha Landmark in 1978. Learn more about the surrounding Gold Coast Historic District »
Gem #3: Zabriskie House
Edward Zabriskie, a ship captain, Civil War vet and Union Pacific official, built his opulent Queen Anne style mansion in the Bemis Park neighborhood in 1889. Using Eastlake/stick style flair, there are seven rooms with more than 4,300 square feet throughout the house. Today, the home is widely regarded as one of the best examples of this style in the world. It was listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and named an official Omaha Landmark in 1980. Learn more about the Bemis Park Landmark Heritage District »
Gem #2: Crook House
In 1879, a new brick home was built for General George Crook at Fort Omaha. Made with local red brick with an oak interior, it was designed in the Italianate style. Over more than 120 years afterward, its was the commanding officer’s home and an officer’s club. Today, its been home to the Douglas County Historical Society for more than 25 years. This structure was added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1969. It is not recognized as an official Omaha Landmark. Learn more about the history of Fort Omaha »
Gem #1: Trimble Castle
Built in 1919 by a Jewish businessman in Omaha, this home lived several lives and has a shady history. Joseph P. Guth, a prolific Omaha architect, designed the home. It features three stories made of masonry blocks and resembles a Scottish baronial castle by mixing Gothic and Queen Anne styles. It has almost 9,000 square feet with six bedrooms. This building is not on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places and is not recognized as an official Omaha Landmark. Learn more about it here »