In the early 1890s, boulevards were created in Omaha to become high speed expressways for wagons and horses to move around the city efficiently. After the first part of Omaha’s boulevard system was built between 1892 and 1898, the city wanted to expand it. This is a history of part of that first expansion called Fontenelle Boulevard.
Fontenelle Boulevard is a roadway in the Omaha boulevard system located on the north end of Omaha, Nebraska. Named after an Omaha nation leader called Logan Fontenelle, the boulevard shares its name with with several local fixtures including Fontenelle Elementary School and Fontenelle Park.
Originally called Boulevard Avenue before 1908, Fontenelle Boulevard was designed to run northward from Military Road to North 30th Street. The first section of land was bought in 1908 and the second in 1915.
Along its route, it effectively connected Benson to Florence through “northwest Omaha,” linking Elmwood Park to Fontenelle Park to Miller Park. Today, the major intersections with the roadway include Paxton Boulevard, Ames Avenue, Sorenson Parkway, Belvedere Boulevard, Redick Avenue, North 30th Street, and then becomes Martin Avenue. It effectively forms a ribbon through or near the neighborhoods of Benson, Fairfax, Fontenelle Park, Central Park, Belevedre, Florence Field, Minne Lusa, and Florence.
Fontenelle Boulevard links to several other historic transportation thoroughfares throughout North Omaha, including the Military Road, NW Radial Highway, Paxton Boulevard, Ames Avenue, Belvedere Boulevard, and North 30th Street.
Originally it connected to Happy Hallow Boulevard, but that part was rebuilt at the NW Radial Highway in the 1950s. In 1972, the City of Omaha considered installing a pedestrian overpass at the intersection of Fontenelle Boulevard and Maple Street for students in the nearby schools. However, they didn’t pursue it.
Landmarks on the Boulevard
The Omaha Old People’s Home was built at 3325 Fontenelle Boulevard in 1917, and today is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Nebraska School for the Deaf was located just off Fontenelle Boulevard at 3223 North 45th Street. While the school closed in the 1990s, the facility still exists and has been reused for other purposes.
The Nebraska Children’s Home Society built one of the first orphanages in Nebraska at 3549 Fontenelle Boulevard in 1885. It was built in close proximity to the Old Folks Home down the block and the nearby Nebraska School for the Deaf.
Opening in 1919, the Holy Name Catholic Church is located at 2901 Fontenelle Boulevard. The parish includes a school for kindergarten through eighth grade. Originally hosting a high school, too, Holy Family is one of the most popular landmarks along the boulevard.
Fontenelle Park was established in 1893 by the City of Omaha. Part of a plan to improve the city through a series of parks and park-like boulevards, the park was developed, redeveloped, and developed again, recently re-completed in 2019.
There are two memorials to World War I on Fontenelle Boulevard. The northern one is at the intersection of Fontenelle Boulevard and Paxton Boulevard. It is a stone monument put up in “memory of all who served in the World War” by the “Omaha War Mothers.” The second is at the intersection of Fontenelle Boulevard and NW Radial Highway, where there is a sculpture “in memory of all who served in the World War” that was sponsored by the Russell Hughes Chapter of American War Mothers.
Past landmarks along Fontenelle Boulevard included the A&W Drive-In that was once located at the intersection with Ames Avenue.
In Recent Times
Today, Fontenelle Boulevard continues flowing from Benson to Florence with many points in between. It was included in the 2012 listing of the Omaha Parks and Boulevard System on the National Register of Historic Places.
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- Omaha Parks and Boulevard System listing on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service
In the 1960s, Robert G. Cutchall opened Bob’s A&W Drive-in at the intersection of Fontenelle Boulevard and Ames Avenue.