A House of Tomorrow in North Omaha

This is a history of North Omaha's Houses of Tomorrow at 3939 N. 41st and 3947 N. 41st Street in the Fairfax neighborhood.

The 1930s were an interesting time in Omaha. The Great Depression was underway and the city’s economy was greatly impacted. People of color and people who were low income before 1929 really suffered. This didn’t stop homes from being built, and sometimes gave builders the leeway they needed to innovate. This is a history of two such houses located next to each other at 3939 North 41st Street and 3947 North 41st Street.

According to ArchDaily, “Art Deco was the first widely popular style in the US that broke with the revivalist tradition represented by Beaux-Arts and period houses.” Plopped into North Omaha’s Fairfax neighborhood, these homes stand out for their remarkable differences to neighboring houses, and for the years they were built during.

These two houses at 3939 and 3947 N. 41st were designed in the Art Deco style in the 1930s, a rare occurrence in Omaha. This pic was from 2018.

When these two houses were designed in the early 1930s, they were identical. Each was made in low, asymmetrical shapes. There distinguishing Art Deco style details include…

  • Flat roofs with no cornices or eaves
  • Originally had smooth white interior walls
  • Streamlined appearance and rounded corners on the north and south ends of the red brick exterior
  • Originally had horizontal row windows, porthole windows and glass block windows
  • Originally had a a centered aluminum garage within the structure of the house
  • Original rounded mudporch with an aluminum front entry door still intact

The houses originally had open floor plans too.

According to the Douglas County Assessor’s Office, 3939 was built in 1936 and 3947 was built in 1949. However, they are built identically and during different architectural eras, and I suspect the assessor’s office records are wrong. The plans are much more indicative of 1930s Art Deco than the salt box style homes built in the neighborhood after WWII.

This is the Art Deco home at 3947 N. 41st St, built in 1949, as it stands today in 2023.
This is the Art Deco home at 3947 N. 41st St, built in 1949, as it stands today in 2023.

A 1954 ad called these the “House of Tomorrow.” It highlighted a “beautiful combination living room and dining room, 17×34 feet, with massive mirrored log-burning fireplace, 2 lovely spacious bedrooms, with large clothes closets and a charming sunroom or extra bedroom. Sparkling bathroom with marble floor, colorful glass walls, classy moderistic kitchen with attractive built-ins, 2 nice lots. The exclusive features in this home are far too numerous to express in writing.”

Referred to as “a completely modern home” in a 1959 ad with banner “a unique place,” the house at 3939 had a 34×15 living room and three 12×16 bedrooms. It featured an “extra large built-in garage” and a patio at the rear.

This 1954 ad promoted the Art Deco style 3939 N. 41st St. as the “House of Tomorrow.”

In 2023, the Douglas County Assessor’s Office marked 3947 as being in “worn out” condition, and the house at 3939 as being in “fair” condition. In 2023, Zillow lists 3847 as having three bedrooms and one bathroom at 1,384 square feet total, estimated at $114,700 but not currently on the market. The neighboring home at 3939 is listed with four bedrooms and one bathroom on 1,422 square feet, and is estimated at $111,000 and not currently on the market.

Neither of these houses have been recognized for their historical significance. No buildings in the surrounding Fairfax neighborhood have been either. Perhaps in near future these homes can be restored to their architectural integrity inherent in their Art Deco styling. Maybe someday Omaha will care enough…

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  1. These houses are so interesting, it would be so nice to have them restored to their original condition and preserved for their historical value.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! How did you ever run across these homes? I will make a point of driving by to see them for myself. Very unique…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It all began with the image at top Roger, which I found for my new Fontenelle Park podcast… Those two shapes popped out and I ran with it! Hard to find historical info on these though. I’ve always been intrigued by North O’s Art Deco / Art Moderne buildings, including the fire station at N. 22nd and Ames and the old dentist office at N. 27th and Ames, and now these! Do you know of any others that look like these?


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