The Saratoga neighborhood has existed since Nebraska was on the edge of the Wild West. After its glorious revelry during the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Expo, it settled into becoming a successful neighborhood on the edge of Omaha with a business center at North 24th and Ames Avenue. One of its nicest features was a vaudeville turned movie house. This is a history of the Suburban Theater in North Omaha.
The Suburban Theatre was opened around 1900 just south of North 24th and Ames Avenue. Owned by Charles Jacobsen, it opened as a vaudeville and was converted to a movie theater within a decade. Jacobsen was a Danish immigrant who was one of the first horse-drawn streetcar drivers in Omaha. His theater, run by his son Fred Jacobsen, was credited with being the first theater in the city that wasn’t located downtown.
Jacobsen would have been in touch with the pulse of the Saratoga neighborhood because of the Ames Avenue Streetcar Barn built on the corner of 24th and Ames in 1899. He hosted special days for different populations, including kids shows and family shows and shows just for streetcar drivers.
Alas, his business model might not have been the best, and the Suburban closed for the first time around 1920. William H. Creal bought the theater soon after. Creal was a theater magnate in Omaha, and owned several others. Despite this, he was fined by the City of Omaha building inspector for allowing the rear door of the theater to be blocked by rubbish. The theater was closed again shortly after that. Later, Creal’s son owned the theater, which they closed to open the nearby Beacon Theater by 30th and Ames in 1927.
Originally built of brick with a wooden façade, after it was the Suburban Theater the space became a grocery store, a restaurant, a pool hall and then a bar and grill called Kato’s that was there for almost 50 years.
Today there is a barbecue and liquor store in this historic building which is not designated as an official Omaha Landmark or listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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MY ARTICLES ON THE HISTORY OF THEATERS IN NORTH OMAHA
LOCATIONS: Grand Theater | Beacon Theater | Ritz Theater | Minne Lusa Theatre | North Star Theater aka Ames Theater | Corby Theater | Alhambra Theater | Suburban Theater | Military Theater | Diamond Theaters
PEOPLE: Frank E. Goff | George P. Johnson
MY ARTICLES ABOUT THE HISTORY OF SARATOGA
Homes: Stroud Mansion | Gruenig Mansion | Rome Miller Mansion
Businesses: J. F. Bloom and Company | Omaha Motor Car Company | Stroud Company | 4225 Florence Blvd | 4426 Florence Blvd | Saratoga Springs Hotel | Max I. Walker Cleaners | Imperial Sash and Window Factory | Metropolitan Building and Loan | J. F. Bloom and Company | Omaha Motor Car Company | Stroud Company | North Star Theater aka the Ames Theatre | Suburban Theater | LaRue’s
Events: Timeline | Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition | Greater America Exposition
Transportation: Belt Line Railway | North 16th Street | North 24th Street | North Freeway | Streetcars | Railroads
Other: Saratoga School | Saratoga Fire Station | Sulphur Springs | Druid Hall | John F. Kennedy Recreation Center | Omaha Driving Park | Prairie Park Club
We also have a podcast on the history of Saratoga »
MY ARTICLES ABOUT THE HISTORY OF N. 24TH ST.
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES: 24th and Lake Historic District | Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church | Carnation Ballroom | Jewell Building | Minne Lusa Historic District | The Omaha Star
NEIGHBORHOODS: Near North Side | Long School | Kellom Heights | Logan Fontenelle Housing Projects | Kountze Place | Saratoga | Miller Park | Minne Lusa
BUSINESSES: 1324 North 24th Street | 24th Street Dairy Queen | 2936 North 24th Street | Jewell Building and Dreamland Ballroom | 3006 Building | Forbes Bakery, Ak-Sar-Ben Bakery, and Royal Bakery | Blue Lion Center | Omaha Star | Hash House | Live Wire Cafe | Metoyer’s BBQ | Fair Deal Cafe | Carter’s Cafe | Carnation Ballroom | Alhambra Theater | Ritz Theater | Suburban Theater | Skeet’s BBQ | Safeway
CHURCHES: Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church | Pearl Memorial United Methodist Church | Immanuel Baptist Church | Mt Moriah Baptist Church | Bethel AME Church
HOUSES: McCreary Mansion | Gruenig Mansion
INTERSECTIONS: 24th and Fort | Recent History of 24th and Lake | Tour of 24th and Lake
EVENTS: 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition | 1899 Greater America Exposition | 1913 Easter Sunday Tornado | 1919 Lynching and Riot | 1960s Riots
OTHER: Omaha Driving Park | JFK Rec Center | Salvation Army Hospital | Omaha University | Creighton University | Bryant Center
RELATED: A Street of Dreams | Redlining | Black History in Omaha | North Omaha’s Jewish Community | Binney Street | Wirt Street