A History of Saratoga School

This is a 1968 pic of a mother and daughter at Saratoga School during a parent night program.

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

Saratoga School, N. 24th and Ames Avenue, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is an 1885 pic of Saratoga School, once on the northeast corner of 24th and Ames in the old town of Saratoga.

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

University of Omaha Science Hall / Saratoga School, 24th and Ames, North Omaha, Nebraska
In 1917, the University of Omaha took over the old Saratoga School to make it a science hall. Located on the northeast corner of 24th and Ames, the hall had two floors and a full basement with at least eight rooms. It was demolished in the 1920s.

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

Saratoga School, 2504 Meredith Avenue, North Omaha, Nebraska
In 1926, Omaha Public Schools opened the fourth Saratoga School at 2504 Meredith Avenue, near 24th and Ames. It was made of only the building shown here.

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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Bonus Pics

This is (likely) an eighth grade class pic at Saratoga School in 1942.
This is (likely) an eighth grade class pic at Saratoga School in 1942.
Saratoga School, 2504 Meredith Avenue, North Omaha, Nebraska.
This is the current entrance to Saratoga School at 2504 Meredith Avenue.
Saratoga School, 25th and Meredith Ave, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is a 1926 picture of Saratoga School at 25th and Meredith.
This is the rear addition added to Saratoga School in 1966. It included eight classrooms, a cafeteria and more.
Saratoga School safety patrol, 1930
This is the Saratoga School safety patrol in 1930. They’re seated outside the school doors.

Published by Adam Fletcher

An internationally recognized expert in youth engagement, Adam leads the Freechild Institute and SoundOut. He is also the editor NorthOmahaHistory.com; the author of Student Voice Revolution and twelve other books; and the host of the North Omaha History Podcast.

One thought on “A History of Saratoga School

  1. Very interesting. I was born in Omaha and liv d there until 1957. A wonderful place. I went to lake school and lived at 2207 No. 18th St. All houses nearby were gone bt 1998 but that one. Not sure when it was taken down but the next time I checked it also was gone.

    Liked by 1 person

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