History of Fontenelle Boulevard

Fontenelle Park, North Omaha, Nebraska

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.

The Route

Boulevard System, Omaha, Nebraska
This is a 1926 map of the Omaha Boulevard System.

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.

Pedestrian Overpass, Fontenelle Blvd and Maple St, North Omaha, Nebraska
This diagram shows the location of a 1972 plan for an overpass at the intersection of Fontenelle Boulevard and Maple 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

Leo Vaughn Manor, 3325 Fontenelle Blvd, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is Leo Vaughn Manor, where the Old Peoples Home eventually moved. It is located at 3325 Fontenelle 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.

Nebraska School for the Deaf, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is a photo of the Nebraska School for the Deaf campus during the 1893-1894 school year. Italianate designs are complimented by Vernacular efforts and some Victorian-esque work on the far left. Almost all of these buildings have been replaced today.

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.

Nebraska Children's Home Society, 3549 Fontenelle Boulevard, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is the Nebraska Children’s Home Society, built in 1923 at Fontenelle Boulevard and Pratt Street by Fontenelle Park.

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.

Holy Name Catholic Church, 2901 Fontenelle Blvd, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is a 1957 pic of Holy Name Catholic Church on Fontenelle Boulevard.

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, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is Fontenelle Park in 1927. The baseball stands, the pavilion, and the pond are all obvious. That curvy road to the right of the pond was straightened out and eventually became Ames Avenue, while the Fontenelle Boulevard is obviously paved and smooth already.

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.

Bob's A&W Drive-In, 4310 Ames Avenue, North Omaha, Nebraska
Bob’s A&W Drive-In was a landmark at Fontenelle Blvd and Ames Ave for 20 years.

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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BONUS PICS

Clifton Hill Presbyterian Church, North 45th and Grant Streets, North Omaha, Nebraska
This was Clifton Hill Presbyterian Church at North 45th and Grant Streets. It was built in 1887 and demolished by 1957. It was located at the southern starting point of Fontenelle Boulevard. This building was replaced and today the New Community Baptist Church is located there.
Bob's A&W Drive-In, 4310 Ames Avenue, North Omaha, Nebraska
Bob’s A&W Drive-In was a landmark at Fontenelle Blvd and Ames Ave for 20 years.

In the 1960s, Robert G. Cutchall opened Bob’s A&W Drive-in at the intersection of Fontenelle Boulevard and Ames Avenue.

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