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.
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.
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.
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…
You Might Like…
- A History of the Fairfax Neighborhood
- A History of Fontenelle Park in North Omaha
- History of Fontenelle Boulevard
- A History of Omaha North High School
- A History of the Nebraska School for the Deaf
MY ARTICLES ON THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE IN NORTH OMAHA
GENERAL: Architectural Gems | The Oldest House | The Oldest Places
PLACES: Mansions and Estates | Apartments | Churches | Public Housing | Houses | Commercial Buildings | Hotels
PEOPLE: ‘Cap’ Clarence Wigington | Everett S. Dodds | Jacob Maag | George F. Shepard | John F. Bloom
HISTORIC HOUSES: Mergen House | Hoyer House | Campion House | North Omaha’s Sod House | James Comey Mitchell House | Charles Storz House | George F. Shepard House | 2902 N. 25th St. | 6327 Florence Blvd.
PUBLIC HOUSING: Logan Fontenelle | Spencer Street | Hilltop | Pleasantview | Myott Park aka Wintergreen
NORMAL HOUSES: 3155 Meredith Ave. | 5815 Florence Blvd. | 2936 N. 24th St. | 6711 N. 31st Ave. | 3210 N. 21st St. | 4517 Browne St. | 5833 Florence Blvd. | 1922 Wirt St. | 3467 N. 42nd St. | 5504 Kansas Ave. | Lost Blue Windows House
HISTORIC APARTMENTS: Historic Apartments | Ernie Chambers Court, aka Strehlow Terrace | The Sherman Apartments | Logan Fontenelle Housing Projects | Spencer Street Projects | Hilltop Projects | Pleasantview Projects | Memmen Apartments | The Sherman | The Climmie | University Apartments
MANSIONS & ESTATES: Hillcrest Mansion | Burkenroad House aka Broadview Hotel aka Trimble Castle | McCreary Mansion | Parker Estate | J. J. Brown Mansion | Poppleton Estate | Rome Miller Mansion | Redick Mansion | Thomas Mansion | John E. Reagan House | Brandeis Country Home | Bailey Residence | Lantry – Thompson Mansion | McLain Mansion | Stroud Mansion | Anna Wilson’s Mansion | Zabriskie Mansion | The Governor’s Estate | Count Creighton House | John P. Bay House
COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS: 4426 Florence Blvd. | 2410 Lake St. | 26th and Lake Streetcar Shop | 1324 N. 24th St. | 2936 N. 24th St. | 5901 N. 30th St. | 4402 Florence Blvd. | 4225 Florence Blvd. | 3702 N. 16th St.
RELATED: Redlining | Neighborhoods | Streets | Streetcars | Churches | Schools
These houses are so interesting, it would be so nice to have them restored to their original condition and preserved for their historical value.
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Wow! How did you ever run across these homes? I will make a point of driving by to see them for myself. Very unique…
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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?
I just got done driving by, so different and neat. Just imagine how they were when they were new.
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2705 martin ave might fit the bill. built 1938, art deco imo