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!
#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 »
#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 »
#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 »
#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 »
#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 »
#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 »
#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 »
#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 »
#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 »
#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 »
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MY ARTICLES ON THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE IN NORTH OMAHA
GENERAL: Architectural Gems | The Oldest House | The Oldest Places
PLACES: Mansions and Estates | Apartments | Churches | Public Housing | Houses | Commercial Buildings | Hotels
PEOPLE: ‘Cap’ Clarence Wigington | Everett S. Dodds | Jacob Maag | George F. Shepard | John F. Bloom
HISTORIC HOUSES: Mergen House | Hoyer House | Campion House | North Omaha’s Sod House | James Comey Mitchell House | Charles Storz House | George F. Shepard House | 2902 N. 25th St. | 6327 Florence Blvd.
PUBLIC HOUSING: Logan Fontenelle | Spencer Street | Hilltop | Pleasantview | Myott Park aka Wintergreen
NORMAL HOUSES: 3155 Meredith Ave. | 5815 Florence Blvd. | 2936 N. 24th St. | 6711 N. 31st Ave. | 3210 N. 21st St. | 4517 Browne St. | 5833 Florence Blvd. | 1922 Wirt St. | 3467 N. 42nd St. | 5504 Kansas Ave. | Lost Blue Windows House
HISTORIC APARTMENTS: Historic Apartments | Ernie Chambers Court, aka Strehlow Terrace | The Sherman Apartments | Logan Fontenelle Housing Projects | Spencer Street Projects | Hilltop Projects | Pleasantview Projects | Memmen Apartments | The Sherman | The Climmie | University Apartments
MANSIONS & ESTATES: Hillcrest Mansion | Burkenroad House aka Broadview Hotel aka Trimble Castle | McCreary Mansion | Parker Estate | J. J. Brown Mansion | Poppleton Estate | Rome Miller Mansion | Redick Mansion | Thomas Mansion | John E. Reagan House | Brandeis Country Home | Bailey Residence | Lantry – Thompson Mansion | McLain Mansion | Stroud Mansion | Anna Wilson’s Mansion | Zabriskie Mansion | The Governor’s Estate | Count Creighton House | John P. Bay House
COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS: 4426 Florence Blvd. | 2410 Lake St. | 26th and Lake Streetcar Shop | 1324 N. 24th St. | 2936 N. 24th St. | 5901 N. 30th St. | 4402 Florence Blvd. | 4225 Florence Blvd. | 3702 N. 16th St.
RELATED: Redlining | Neighborhoods | Streets | Streetcars | Churches | Schools
These are some places in North Omaha that have been recognized for their architectural beauty in the past.
Great read Adam. Thank you.
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Dear Adam, This is David Bittner, 66 years old, of Omaha. I recently e-mailed you several anecdotes about my grandparents and their neighbors on Sprague St. They sold their house in 1960 to a black couple who improved the little bungalow with a picture window and asked my grandfather if they might be permitted to keep the mezuzah on the front door. (He let them keep it.) I also told the story of their neighbor lady who had a foolproof way of getting rid of door-to-door salesmen., She would pretend to be the maid when a salesman would ask if “the lady of the house was in.” Did you find these stories unsuitable for your North Omaha blogs? D.B.
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Hi David, and thanks for writing. I wrote you and said thanks for sharing those, and you replied to me. While I really appreciated your stories, I don’t generally include individual stories in the articles on my website beyond my own. I invite you to share them in the comments section of the individual articles they relate to though, since other folks might appreciate them. Great stories – share more in the comments if you’d like. Thanks!
And thanks for your second reply above, Adam. It was reassuring, because I saw something in your blogs that said somebody had gone through a lot of material and deleted a lot of “racist” things that people had posted. I was afraid it was my anecdotes, which I just thought were funny, not “racist.” D.B.
This is the apartment my Grandma Mae Memmen Riddle raised my mother, Barbara Joan (Riddle) Watson, in. She was the youngest of 7 children. Sibs names (not in order)Richard (Dick), Cjark, William (Bill), Dorothy (Dot) Osterholm, Margeret (Watson) Holub, Clifford (Cliff).
I loved ALL my Aunts, Uncles, Grandma and especially my Awesome mother!!!
She is the young girl standing in the front of these Apts many years ago!
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