The Saratoga School was opened at North 24th and Meredith Avenue in 1866 by local residents. It was a one-room schoolhouse, and was one of the first public schools in Nebraska.
Over the years, Saratoga School was located in at least four different buildings all within the vicinity of North 24th Streets and Ames Avenue.
First Saratoga School
The first Saratoga School was built at near Saunders Road and Grand Avenue, which today is called 24th and Grand. There are no images of the first Saratoga School, and barely any mention of it. However, in his 1857 journal about starting the town of Saratoga, founder Erastus Beadle made a few passing mentions about a school for children in the town. It was a one-room schoolhouse. When the town folded that year without being incorporated or having any form of taxation to survive, there was no obvious way for the school to survive. However, it did, and there is evidence from 1867 that shows it existed.
Second Saratoga School
The second Saratoga School surely did exist, as witnessed by the 1885 picture shown here. According to 1881 records from the State of Nebraska, Saratoga School was located in District 2. Located on the northeast corner of 24th and Ames, the Saratoga School had 5 teachers in 5 classrooms serving more than 40 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The students learned reading, writing and arithmetic, and were controlled with strict punishment. Much more than the typical pioneer schoolhouse, Saratoga School was a big building for its time.
Third Saratoga School
The town of Saratoga was annexed into Omaha in the 1890s with its school becoming part of District One, now called Omaha Public Schools. The third Saratoga School was built in that decade. It replaced the wooden school on the northeast corner of North 24th and Ames Avenue. Made of brick, it had a large central staircase at at least eight classrooms inside of it, and served students through the eighth grade.
Located in the middle of a commercial district, by 1900 it was across the street from a large streetcar barn, along with Lane Drug, the Saratoga Hotel, several grocery stores and the nearby Druid Hall. However, the area experienced a slump at the turn of the century right after the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Expo and the school was closed around 1915. In 1917, the nearby University of Omaha began using it as a science hall. When they moved campuses in the 1930s the building was demolished.
Fourth Saratoga School
The fourth Saratoga School was completed in 1926. A state-of-the-art facility, it served students through eighth grade with indoor restrooms, central heating, and plenty of classroom space for students in the neighborhood. During this era, the neighborhood around the school transitioned from being a leafy all-white suburb of Omaha to become integrated. 40 years after it was built, in 1966 the school districted added a west wing with eight new classrooms, a health room, and a cafeteria.
When Omaha Public Schools began integrated busing in 1976, African American students were taken from Saratoga School and sent to white schools in other areas. Saratoga then only had students in kindergarten through third grade. When integrated bussing ended in 1999, Saratoga served students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. In 2005, the district expanded the building again with more office space, a new library and computer lab, a teacher work area, and central air conditioning.
Ending Saratoga School
In 2017, Omaha Public Schools announced the end of Saratoga School. After more than 150 years and as the oldest school in Omaha, the building was designated to become an alternative school to serve high school age students. Today the building still exists, but Saratoga is gone.
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- A History of Schools in North Omaha
- A History of Segregated Schools in Omaha
- A History of the Saratoga Neighborhood