Adam’s Note: These “normal” house histories are fun. They shed a light on the daily lives of the everyday people who built North Omaha and have lived in the community for more than 125 years. I like the homes they built, and although some have fallen apart and others were bulldozed, the vast majority of original houses are still filling the blocks from Dodge Street north to the county line, and from North 72nd east to the river. I hope you enjoy this tale from a normal house in North Omaha…
Nestled into a corner in the Kountze Place neighborhood is a 10-room, 2800-square foot home that’s stood since the 1890s. Featuring its own half-circle driveway, the home harkens to a grander time for this once opulent neighborhood. Here’s some history of the home.
Frederick W. Leavitt lived there in 1895. He was the minister of Plymouth Congregational Church at North 18th and Emmett Streets in the early 20th century. When he moved to a new congregation in St. Louis in 1919, it made news in the local paper and the sale of the home was seen as a boon to the neighborhood.
Through the 1920s, the home was advertised as having a porte cochere and a barn. In 1898, the homeowner was looking for a German housecleaner. Over the succeeding years, there were a number of different families associated with this home. For instance, children or youth who lived there through 1926 included Miss Fawcett, a music student who studied in the East who returned to visit family and friends in 1903; Romabell Quaintence, a 17-year-old who was involved in a salacious misdeed with a soldier from Fort Omaha in 1923, and; Mary Ann Moore, a child who lived there who was involved in a car accident in 1926.
From 1928 through 1932, a woman named Ethel Canon lived there. She was involved with getting divorced and getting remarried more than once, and went through the names Ethel Simpkin, her maiden name Ethel Canon, and Ethel Reynolds Wilson, all within four years.
George L. Dunn and his wife Jennie Dunn celebrated their 55rd wedding anniversary at the house in 1938, inviting family and friends from their life on the family farm near Irvington, Nebraska. The event was reported on extensively by the newspaper. Dunn died at the age of 81 in 1941.
In 1967, a teacher named Virginia Jefferson was featured in the paper after moving from Alabama with a several other teachers to take jobs in Omaha Public Schools. While the Omaha Public Schools superintendent sounded nonchalant about their hiring, the Omaha World-Herald recognized its value to a diverse district. Jefferson lived here at the time of the article.