The North Omaha community is a patchwork of neighborhoods. Some have lost their identities while others rally around the places that make them exist. One such zone is tucked away in the former city of Florence, and is a tiny 1960s neighborhood called High Point.
Bounded by North 40th Street on the west and Read Street on the south, the north boundary of the neighborhood is Forest Lawn Avenue with Northridge Drive on the east. Originally platted as Wilson & Mossman’s Florence Addition, it was originally built up in the rolling hills west of the City of Florence between 1910 and 1915. In the late 1950s, real estate developers stacked out a housing addition among the existing homes and built out more than 60 homes among the winding streets. Most of these lots were developed between 1960 and 1965, with the existing houses rebuilt to resemble their neighbors.
The neighborhood featured the typical split-level suburban houses for homebuyers, and several split-level duplexes for renters. There were Revival-style façades applied to the fronts of some of the houses, including Tudor-style and Colonial-style. Almost every house in the neighborhood had a basement-level garage built in, and some had two doors instead of a single one. The entire neighborhood was built with sidewalks, curbs and streetlights throughout it.
In 1964, the neighborhood’s rallying spot was built. It was called the High Point Pool, and it was a private, members-only facility meant to draw middle-class white people to the development, and it worked really well. Its not a fancy facility, merely offering a mid-sized pool with a deep end and a one-foot-deep baby pool, along with a meager pool house. However, with a relatively high price for membership and a semi-remote location bordered by a greenbelt tucked back into the High Point neighborhood, the pool provided a focal point for an otherwise nondescript suburban-style housing development. With a swim team, long summer hours and availability for private parties, it offered neighborhood youth a place to belong when a lot of the rest of North Omaha felt inaccessible to them, and west Omaha seemed too far away. The swim team competed with the nearby private pool at the Birchwood Club as well as other private facilities further west in Omaha for several decades.
For the next 50 years, white families flocked into the area to escape neighborhoods further south, including Miller Park, Saratoga and Kountze Place. Some moved in from older houses throughout Florence. If they attended public schools, these families sent their children to attend Florence Elementary School, McMillan Junior High and then North High School. Private schools in the area included St. Philip Neri and Blessed Sacrament, both Catholic schools. Families attended nearby Florence churches or ones in the Florence Field neighborhood, and shopped at a new shopping development to the west at North 30th and Weber Streets.
From the 1960s through the 1980s, High Point offered a sedate, bucolic suburban lifestyle for white middle-class families. Reports of illegal night swimming at the pool, long private parties in backyards, and other idyllic suburban fanciness fill peoples’ imaginations and memories still today.
In 1977, the Nebraska Department of Roads considered constructing the I-580 extension to connect downtown to I-680 through this area. However, that idea was nearly immediately dismissed in their recommendations with the report, “There is little need for invading this enclave because of its topography, but in any event all but its edge should be avoided.” Needless to say, that construction never happened.
In the late 1980s, things started changing dramatically in High Point.
Racial dynamics have plagued this neighborhood from the beginning. Ultimately, the development was built as a whites-only haven tucked into the hills of Florence. Through de facto segregation African Americans were not allowed to live there, depriving the white residents of diversity and integration. While their children were sent to the newly-integrated McMillan Junior and North High schools, white kids weren’t exposed to Black students before then, creating a sense of exclusiveness and false security that continues to be perpetuated in other parts of Omaha today. Meanwhile, African Americans looking for higher quality and newer housing were deprived of the freedom to live in the community.
A neighbor to both McMillan and the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, High Point has changed dramatically in the last thirty years. Race-restrictive housing practices have been largely dropped, allowing African Americans to move into the neighborhood and encouraging some white families to move away. As one generation left, another has arrived. The neighboring shopping development, churches and Florence itself have changed too. The neighborhood is treated by many real estate agents as a starter community, with some homeowners actively encouraged to move away from North Omaha into newer, larger and less established areas of the city. Meanwhile, first-time homebuyers are moving into the area while absentee landlords are becoming more common, too.
A rash of crime struck the area in the 1980s and 1990s, further destabilizing High Point. The pool house was broken into repeatedly, and meth houses were busted in the neighborhood. The murder of a young man near the pool in 2014 was particularly upsetting to residents, but not shocking. The private pool struggled to stay open, with fundraisers and other attempts to keep it open starting in the early 1990s.
Although it is the youngest neighborhood I’ve written about yet for NorthOmahaHistory.com, today High Point is six decades old. It offers a time capsule of an era when white flight dominated the community’s existence and gives a glimpse into one way that the history of North Omaha is still being written about today.
The neighborhood struggles to hang onto its identity while the City of Omaha has increasingly neglected it. A street repaving project in the early 2020s dragged on for years, and some streetlights in the area are routinely unlit for months at a time.
A green belt on the north end of the development has undeveloped lots today, more than sixty years after it was initially platted. There are trails through that area, and unfortunately, negative things have happened there throughout the decades. The newspapers don’t talk about High Point a lot anymore, and when the media reports on High Point it’s usually only to emphasize the challenges facing the area.
However, there are signs of light too: today, the High Point Pool Association is sponsored by the James Scurlock Sports Academy, acting as a fiscal sponsor to ensure the pool stays open and involves the community. Still acting as a focal point, today it welcomes members of all races with some of the most affordable rates for a private pool in Omaha.
Perhaps the future will see High Point in a different light. In the meantime, please share your memories and thoughts in the comment section!
You Might Like…
MY ARTICLES ABOUT HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOODS IN NORTH OMAHA
National Register of Historic Places Historic Districts in North Omaha: 24th and Lake Historic District | Benson Downtown Historic District | Country Club Historic District | Dundee/Happy Hollow Historic District | Fairacres Historic District | Fort Omaha Historic District | Minne Lusa Historic District | Nicholas Street Historic District
Historic Neighborhoods in North Omaha: Bedford Place | Belvedere Point | Bemis Park | Benson | Briggs | Bungalow City | Carter Lake, Iowa | Central Park | Clifton Hill | Collier Place | Creighton University | Crown Point | DeBolt | Druid Hill | East Omaha | Fairfax | Florence | Florence Field | Fort Omaha | Fontenelle View | Gifford Park | Gold Coast (Cathedral) | High Point | Jefferson Square | Kellom Heights | Kountze Place | Little Russia | Long School | Malcolm X Memorial | Miller Park | Miller Park Duplex Historic District | Monmouth Park | Montclair | Near North Side | North Downtown Omaha | Omaha View | Orchard Hill | Plum Nelly | Prettiest Mile in Omaha | Prospect Place | Raven Oaks | Redman | Saratoga | Sherman | Squatter’s Row | Sulphur Springs | Ponca Hills | Wakonda | Walnut Hill | Winspear Triangle | Wyman Heights
Lost Towns in North Omaha: Benson | Briggs | DeBolt | East Omaha | Florence | Saratoga | Sulphur Springs
MY ARTICLES ABOUT THE HISTORY OF FLORENCE:
Public Places: Florence Ferry | Florence High School | The Mormon Tree | Florence Water Works | Mormon Bridge | Florence Boulevard | River Drive | J.J. Pershing Drive and Monument | Potter’s Field
Businesses: Vennelyst Park | Bank of Florence | Florence Mill | Florence Depot
Houses: Parker Mansion | Brandeis Country Home | Lantry-Thompson Mansion | Mitchell House
People: James M. Parker | James Comey Mitchell | Florence Kilborn
Neighborhoods: Winter Quarters | Florence Field | Wyman Heights | High Point
- High Point Pool official website
- High Point Pool facebook page
I grew up on Ernst St. and we were members of High Point pool. Great memories there. I’m glad to see it is still in operation.
Maybe it had a hot tub when it was built, but it doesn’t now. However, it does have a 1 ft baby pool. My mom’s family had a founding member bond, and we were members up until the late 2000’s.
This was a place we would ride our bikes from 28th and Tucker to everyday from open to close or at least until dinner and then go back until the close for the day. Alit of wonderful memories
Wonderful memories growing up on 79th St real close to the pool. We moved there when my dad retired from the Navy in about ‘61 or ‘62. I remember carving that in the new cement patio as we had moved in when the homes were just being finished. Played in the creek across the street which is now filled and is a small corn field. (at least it was when I revisited the area years ago. )
I loved High Point Pool and spent every day there in the summer. Wonderful memories.
This brings back memories of many great summers spent at highpoint pool in the 80’s! We should have a reunion there some time.
We lived across the street and spent every summer minute swimming and playing Shark. Lots of fun memories with friends…. ahhh to be a kid again!