Restoration Exchange Omaha - Bemis Park Neighborhood Tour

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BEMIS PARK NEIGHBORHOOD TOUR October 13-14, 2018 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Sponsored by:

Old Omaha Vintage Real Estate Team was founded by, and designed exclusively for, folks that just can’t get enough of Omaha’s history and beautiful historic residences. My team offers a full array of real estate services tailored to folks just like you. We are this area's experts in marketing, selling, or purchasing your historic home.

REALTOR . Broker/Owner

Old Omaha Vintage Real Estate Team of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate The Good Life Group ......... 4908 Underwood Avenue . Omaha, NE 68132 Licensed in Nebraska & Iowa ©2018 Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC. Better Homes and Gardens® is a registered trademark of Meredith Corporation licensed to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC. Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Franchise is Independently Owned and Operated. If your property is currently listed with a real estate broker, please disregard. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other real estate brokers.


··Admission is by ticket only, no exceptions. Tickets may only be used one tour day. ··All children must have a ticket.

··Be aware that all of the tour sites are not ADA accessible. Needs of those with mobility impairments will be accommodated within the physical limits of the buildings and the availability of tour volunteers to provide assistance. ··Do not block driveways or alleyways

··Respect the owner’s property. If a door is shut, do not open it. If a drawer is closed, do not open it. ··No smoking, eating or drinking in any of the properties. ··No photography, unless approved by the homeowner. ··No pets.

··Only use restrooms in specified locations. Restrooms for patrons are available at Augustana Lutheran Church and Tour Stop #4 1041 N. 34th Street. ··Booties required to be worn in all of the tour locations.

In consideration of the permission granted for the tour participant to enter the homes and premises on the tour, the tour participant hereby agrees to enter the tour homes and premises at his or her own risk and hereby releases the respective property owner and Restoration Exchange Omaha from any and all claims or causes of action due to injury to person or property that may arise during the tour. Architects can earn five AIA CEUs for those that sign in at a minimum of seven sites. Ask for the sign in sheet at each site.

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N 38th St


Nicholas Street





Mercer Boulevard


Mercer Park Road



10 Cuming Street

Registration Site



Augustana Lutheran Church 3647 Lafayette Avenue 3617


Points of Interest

Designated Parking Area


Mercer Mansion

Bus Stop


Walnut Hill Reservoir

Water for Donations


One of Omaha’s Oldest Trees

Coffee for Sale


Restrooms Available

D.A.R. Monument

Bus Route

Mode Shift Omaha Bicycle Valet

(3026 Lincoln Boulevard) . 2 .

North 34th Street

N 36th St

N 35th St

Lafayeď że Avenue

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col n

Bou l

eva rd






Home Tour Sites


1111 N 36th Street


3426 Lincoln Boulevard


3524 Hawthorne Avenue


3514 Lincoln Boulevard


3411 Hawthorne Avenue


3620 Lincoln Boulevard


1041 N 34th Street


3704 Hawthorne Avenue


3402 Lincoln Boulevard

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903 Mercer Boulevard


POINTS OF INTEREST TO DRIVE BY A. Mercer Mansion - 3920 Cuming Street Dr. Samuel Mercer built this elaborate mansion from 1883-1885. It is one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture in Omaha. B. Walnut Hill Reservoir – Nicholas and North 38th Street The Walnut Hill reservoir was first constructed in 1882 as one piece of the larger Omaha Water Works system. The reservoir also served as a public park with city officials investing significant resources in landscaping the reservoir’s grounds. In 1981, the American Water Works Association designated the reservoir as an American Water Landmark. C. 1780 Oak Tree – Hawthorne Avenue and North 35th Street Supposedly dating to 1780, this oak is a metaphor for the neighborhood itself. In the 1980s, the Bemis Park Neighborhood Association unveiled a new logo: a sketch of an oak tree accompanied with text proclaiming Bemis Park to be a “budding neighborhood with roots.” D. DAR – 3026 Lincoln Boulevard In 1912, Omaha’s chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), erected this simple monument along Lincoln Boulevard to commemorate the routes of the California and Oregon trails as well as the original route of Military Road.





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Augustana Lutheran’s congregation is rooted deeply in the history of Omaha. Beginning in 1868, Swedish men and women rented a small building on Farnam Street in downtown Omaha to worship. This group of Swedish immigrants called their place of worship Immanuel Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church. As Omaha grew west, members of Immanuel’s congregation split off and settled in the developing suburbs of the city. These breakaway members of Immanuel constructed a small church building at the corner of 36th and Charles streets, identifying themselves as the Zion Lutheran Church. In 1936, the Immanuel and Zion congregations formally reunited, becoming the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Congregation. The newly formed congregation purchased land at the corner of 38th and Lafayette streets, but construction of a new church building stalled during World War II after stringent restrictions were placed on the use of building materials during wartime. Finally, in 1951, construction began on the present Augustana Lutheran Church. Completed in a modern Gothic Revival style, the church features original tiled vestibule floors, stained glass windows, and an exposed timber frame roof. In 1957, construction finished on the education wing, formally ending the construction process. Augustana Lutheran and its congregation remains a centerpiece of community life in Bemis Park, frequently serving as a backdrop for neighborhood meetings and events. .5 .


HISTORY Edgar Zabriskie originally built this house in 1889 as the carriage house for his mansion located immediately south of the home. The carriage house served as the Zabriskie family’s stable, and later storage space for their automobile, until Edgar B. Zabriskie (the son of the elder Edgar) relocated and remodeled the carriage house in the early 1930s. At that time, Edgar moved the home from the northeast corner of the Zabriskie property, turned it 90 degrees, and relocated it to its present location facing North 36th Street. Edgar lived in the carriage house from 1934-1937 at which time he sold it to Frank M. Foley. Eventually, longtime owners Elmer and Esther Steinmeyer purchased the house in 1946. Elmer worked as the manager of the Jewel Tea Co., a popular tea and coffee distribution company in Omaha. Elmer and Esther lived in the home until 1959. Melvin Beckman, perhaps the home’s most notable resident, purchased the house in 1975. That same year, Melvin helped establish the Bemis Park Improvement Corporation, an organization dedicated to revitalizing the neighborhood. The Improvement Corporation bought rundown homes to fix and resell them, cleaned up empty lots, and promoted neighborhood solidarity. The Improvement Corporation dissolved in 1981 and the . 6 .

Bemis Park Neighborhood Association — of which Melvin was also the president — took over its duties. Melvin also was a committed activist and priest who spent much of his time and energy promoting peace in Vietnam. He co-founded the Center for the Pursuit of Peace, an organization that provided information about the Vietnam War and peaceful strategies to end the conflict.

IMPROVEMENTS Amy Wendling, a Creighton University philosophy professor, purchased the home in 2006. Her spouse, Jess Benjamin, a ceramic artist, has devoted the last five years to restoration and rehabilitation of the home. Jess methodically restores various areas of the house; she first began restoring the home’s windows and has since moved on to the doors. A self-taught preservationist, Jess singlehandedly restored the windows in the home after many had deteriorated significantly since 1889. Using mahogany, Jess repaired the windowsills and frames to withstand the harshest of weather conditions. Inside, Jess discovered that a previous owner hastily applied plaster over wallpaper on all of the home’s walls. Not to be deterred by these alterations, Jess painted each room a vibrant color to highlight the interesting textures created by the plaster. To Jess, the home is her new art project; she continues to acquire skills as a preservationist by listening to and observing the house as she deconstructs various areas in preparation for restoration. The “house has taught” Jess, and continues to inspire her as she works to craft a comfortable home for her family.

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HISTORY Edgar Zabriskie, a banker and Civil War veteran, and his wife, Esther, commissioned the Omaha architectural firm of Fowler and Beindorff to design this elaborate Queen Anne home. The first home constructed in Bemis Park, Zabriskie’s house remained the sole residence in the neighborhood for nearly a decade. Removed from most city services at the time, Zabriskie hired African American men to stand guard near his home and the neighborhood in lieu of regular city police squadron patrols. Zabriskie died of apoplexy — a condition brought on by a hemorrhage or stroke — in 1908; Esther, their son (also named Edgar), and later Esther’s sister, Virgie, continued to live in the home. Virgie died shortly after moving in, suffering from burns after her dress caught fire from a heater in an upstairs bedroom. Esther died in 1944. The younger Edgar remained at the home until 1968 when, like his father, he suffered from a stroke while sitting on the front porch of the home. The home was purchased by the bank, the Zabriskie’s belongings sold at auction, and the entire home was painted white. Four years later, in 1972, Jim Bechtel, an employee at Omaha’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, purchased the home. Jim, a single father, raised his children in the home while . 8 .

simultaneously restoring much of the house to its 1880s glory. While the bank sold the Zabriskie’s furniture and other belongings, Jim did stumble upon some fragments of candlesticks (today on the front parlor mantelpiece) and an 1889 American flag with only 42 stars. Jim also gave the home one of its iconic Queen Anne paint jobs, choosing vibrant purples and pinks to highlight the intricate details of the home’s unique architecture. In 2016, Jim offered to conditionally sell the house to current owners Mark and Vanessa Jewell. After renting the house from Jim, he formally agreed to sell the home to Mark and Vanessa just one year later.

IMPROVEMENTS Mark and Vanessa first stumbled upon Bemis Park when they toured a home for sale on Lincoln Boulevard. While uninterested in buying that home, upon driving around the neighborhood they noticed the Zabriskie house was for sale as well. Vanessa immediately knew it was the perfect house for her and her family. Since moving in, Mark and Vanessa have undertaken ambitious renovations while remaining sensitive to the home’s historic details. The home still retains many of its original gas light fixtures and a pneumatic tube speaking system that the home’s servants used to communicate from the second floor to the kitchen. Today, the Jewells continue to use this speaking tube system to communicate with one another throughout the house. Perhaps the most daunting project undertaken by the Jewells is an updated paint and repair job to the exterior of the home, changing the home’s paint colors for the first time in over 35 years. The entry hall floor still retained its original beeswax finish but had darkened and dirtied since 1889. Vanessa hired Josie the Floor Girl to restore the floor to its original shine and, unbeknownst to Vanessa, Josie had previously been hired by Jim Bechtel to complete work in the kitchen. Upstairs, Vanessa’s father has put his skills to a complete overhaul of one of the home’s bathrooms.

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HISTORY Architect Frederick A. Henninger designed this home for Andrew W. Anderson. A graduate of the Chicago Art Institute, Henninger began a prolific architectural practice in Omaha in 1896; at one point in his career he produced an architectural plan every day, earning the nickname “house-a-day Henninger.” In Bemis Park, Henninger certainly lived up to this title and designed many of the homes still standing in the neighborhood. For Anderson, Henninger designed a comfortable $3,500 home complete with third floor servants’ quarters finished with built-in furniture and a bathroom. Anderson, an attorney for the Cudahy Packing Co., only lived in the home for seven years, likely moving when Cudahy shifted its national headquarters from Omaha to Chicago in 1911. Mads A. Hanson, an insurance agent, purchased the home in 1912. He in turn sold the house just six years later to Harry E. Worrell, another insurance agent and treasurer of the Omaha Life Insurance Co., and his wife, Eleanor. Eleanor opened the home up to the Sigma chapter of the Delphian Society, an organization that promoted the education of women in the United States. In 1935, Harry and Eleanor constructed the wood frame garage in the backyard.

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In 1942, Jack and Fae Gardner purchased the home from the Worrells. The U.S Army Corps of Engineers drew both Jack and Fae to Omaha in the early 1940s. The Omaha division of the Army Corps eagerly recruited engineers to Omaha to test and develop an extensive series of projects along the river during and after World War II. While in Omaha, Jack worked as the director of reports and planning; in 1945, Faye assumed the presidency of the United States District Engineers’ Wives’ Club and worked to promote sociability amongst married women associated with the Army Corps. Jack eventually accepted a higher civilian position in the Army Corps, moving once more in 1953 to Salt Lake City. Nicholas Barbarossa, a hydraulic engineer and likely colleague of Jack’s at the Army Corps, and his wife, Virginia, lived in the home from 1953 to 1964. Irving and Liselotte Bernstein purchased the home in 1964. Irving held a position as a physiology and pharmacology professor at Creighton University; most notably, Irving assisted the Omaha police department in their toxicology and criminology work throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. Liselotte lived in the home for four years after Irving’s death in 1974. The current owner, Lucy Franks, purchased the home in 2015 after both restoring a historic home on North 38th Street and building a new home in Blair, Nebraska.

IMPROVEMENTS Since moving in, Lucy has worked to maintain the historic charm of the house. Sherman Plumbing recently completed an extensive renovation of the upstairs bathroom that required significant work to reroute and correct the home’s plumbing system. Previous owners enclosed the original front porch with aluminum storm windows — Lucy replaced these windows and many of the windows in the house with historically sensitive modern windows. Previous owners renovated the kitchen, but left an original piece of the tin ceiling that is still visible.

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HISTORY Wilmot and Naomi Baughn built this home in 1907. Natives of Iowa and graduates of the University of Iowa, Wilmot and Naomi first moved to Omaha around the time they built this house; Wilmot worked in the city as an attorney and Naomi utilized the home as a setting for various social events. The Easter Sunday tornado of 1913 virtually destroyed their new home and many others on the block as it worked its way northeast through Bemis Park— Wilmot and Naomi rebuilt the home shortly thereafter. In 1916, Nebraska governor John Morehead appointed Wilmot as a municipal judge for the city of Omaha. By 1945, Augusta Becker purchased the home. Originally born in Germany, Augusta immigrated to the United States when she was just 19; she lived at the home until 1956 when she died and the house was subsequently sold to her daughter, Rose, and her husband, Hilbert Johnson. Like the Gardner and Barbarossa families just up Hawthorne Avenue (see the Franks Home), Hilbert worked as a laboratory technician for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was likely hired as part of a larger wave of engineers and U.S. Army Corps specialists that came to Omaha during and after World War II to test and develop engineering projects along the Missouri River. Hilbert remained in the Army Corps until Rose’s death in 1967; ten years later, in 1977, Hilbert sold the house to his niece, Elizabeth Appleby. . 12 .

Unmarried, Elizabeth continued to forge her independent lifestyle at her aunt and uncle’s former home. A longtime fashion and advertising editor of the Omaha WorldHerald, Elizabeth developed her early career as an artist. During World War II she sketched portraits for soldiers at Omaha’s United Service Organization headquarters. After the war, she worked as an art teacher at Boys Town before accepting a staff position at The World-Herald. Later in her career, she served as the president of the Women’s Division of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. When Elizabeth died in 1989, many of her belongings were given to her church and her remaining items, including her home, were sold at an estate auction. It was at this auction that Judy Alderman and her husband found themselves bidding on Elizabeth’s baby grand piano when they decided to put in a bid on the house itself. Their bid was accepted; Elizabeth’s baby grand piano still sits in the foyer.

IMPROVEMENTS Shortly after purchasing the home in 1989, Judy began work to renovate the house in a historically sensitive way, starting with the kitchen. After ripping out many of the kitchen cabinets and tearing the kitchen down to the studs, Judy and her husband carefully rebuilt the kitchen to reflect the original design of the space. A pantry cupboard original to the home on the west wall was used as a basis for the design of the new kitchen cupboards. Aside from this cupboard, a variety of original historic features survive in the home, including the stained glass windows on either side of the fireplace, the dining room light fixture, and sconces in the upstairs bedrooms. Downstairs, the Aldermans finished the basement and Judy painted the floor herself. More recently, Judy renovated the upstairs bathroom and fixed many of the windows in the sunroom. Outside, Judy painted the house with historic colors, extended the back patio, and added a water feature.

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HISTORY Prominent architect Frederick Henninger designed this home for Christoff “Tolf ” Hanson and his wife. In 1892 Tolf moved to Omaha; one year later he opened the Calumet Café, a coffeehouse and restaurant, in downtown Omaha. The Calumet was a smash success, attracting a clientele as diverse as the city itself. Encouraged by the Calumet’s financial success, Tolf began developing plans for the “finest restaurant west of Chicago” and started extensively renovating a building along 16th Street for a French restaurant and upscale café. Known as the Café Beautiful, it quickly descended into a financial sinkhole. Unable to come up with the money owed to his creditors, Tolf fled to New York where he drank illuminating oil, ending his own life. In 1920, Tolf ’s Café Beautiful was converted into the longtime Chinese restaurant, King Fong Café. After Tolf ’s death, the home was sold to Louis Nash, an officer of the Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company that operated the city’s streetcar system. Nash quickly sold the home in 1912 to John Bryant, the newly installed president of the Hudson & Thurber Co., a farm implements and machinery business headquartered in Minnesota. Not long after becoming president, disagreements with the company’s board of directors led Bryant to commit suicide via drowning himself in

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a cistern in the home’s backyard in 1913. That same year the Easter Sunday tornado severely damaged the home, ripping the roof completely from the house. The home was rebuilt shortly thereafter. Henry and Helen Keating bought the home in 1914. Henry, a saloon owner, and Helen, a budding Omaha socialite, only lived in the home for five years — in 1919 they sold the house to Mary and Lysle Abbott. An attorney, Lysle and his wife remained in the home until 1926 when prominent real estate developer George and Lori Payne purchased the house. Head of the pioneer G.H. Payne Investment Co., George developed land throughout Nebraska and the upper Midwest, including Minnesota. In 1938 Lori sold the house and it cycled through multiple owners until longtime resident Edwin Gerken and his family moved into the home in 1953. An entire generation of the Gerken family was raised in the house until they sold the property in 1975. At that time, the Holy Order of Mans, a New Age religious monastic order, converted the home into their new “brotherhouse” after moving from their former location in Lincoln. The Order remained at the home until 1984 when the national monastic order dissolved. In 2017, current owners Joe Pittack and Jenny Gradowski fell in love with the home after seeing the sweeping views from the front porch. Both Joe and Jenny were familiar with the neighborhood, Joe’s grandmother lived just up Hawthorne Avenue and Jenny briefly lived in the area in the 1990s.

IMPROVEMENTS Since purchasing the home in 2017, Joe and Jenny have worked to secure what they call the “innards” of the house, installing a new boiler and water system. After a recent hailstorm, the roof was replaced and the entire house was repainted. Furniture from Joe’s grandmother’s former Hawthorne Avenue home is used throughout the house. Original details of the home survive including original tile in the front vestibule and upstairs bathroom and fireplaces in the dining room and upstairs bedroom.

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HISTORY Architect Frederick A. Henninger designed this home for Dr. Elmer and Mary Porter in 1902. Henninger’s plan took advantage of the home’s dramatic position high atop the hill on Lincoln Boulevard. Porter, an 1898 graduate of the Omaha Medical College, commissioned German mural artist Gustaf Fuchs to decorate the interior of the home. Rather than paint directly onto the plaster inside the home, Fuchs applied canvas-like wallpaper to the walls, allowing him to paint as if on a canvas. For each room of the home, Fuchs painted breathtaking scenes of castles and landscapes along the Rhine River in Germany. Fuchs also stenciled the ceilings with elaborate patterns and figures. In 1914 Porter sold the home to a blacksmith, John Pedersen, who ran a blacksmith shop nearby on Cuming Street. In 1926, Pedersen sold the home to Judge Arthur Thomsen and his wife, Emily. Emily, a graduate of Syracuse University in New York, took night classes and studied law at the University of Omaha where her husband served as the law school’s dean. Arthur also worked as a district judge in the city, eventually serving as the president of the Nebraska District Judges Association and sometimes as a guest judge on the Nebraska Supreme Court.

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After the death of Emily in 1950, and, as Arthur grew older, he retired to the Florence Home for the Aged. Arthur split the upper floors of the home into apartments while utilizing the main floor as an office space. At this time, the murals on the second floor of the home were painted over, but remnants of the wallpaper still remain. When Arthur died in 1970, later owners converted the home back into a single-family residence. The current owners, Richard Stueven and Paris Cunningham, were drawn to the area in 2009 when they saw another home for sale on Lincoln Boulevard. After seeing the murals and fireplace when this home was put on the market, Paris fell in love with the house and the neighborhood.

IMPROVEMENTS Paris and Richard have completed extensive renovations to the exterior of the home, balancing the necessity of modern improvements with the home’s historical integrity. Paris and Richard replaced crumbling concrete steps leading to the front of the house with historically accurate brick pavers. Behind the house, the backyard was completely re-landscaped and the original carriage house stabilized after serious deterioration over the last 116 years. Likewise, the home’s original box gutters were replaced with a more modern gutter system after the original box gutter system fell into disrepair. Inside the house, Paris and Richard have outfitted the original sleeping porch with a screen and covering system that protects the porch from the elements. Richard, a brewer by trade, continues to brew beer in the carriage house.

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HISTORY George Garloch, a prominent contractor and builder who built many homes in Bemis Park, constructed this home in 1910 for $6,800. Just two years after construction, David H. Fair purchased the home; David lived here for six years before he sold it to Harry B. Gengnagel in 1918. A branch manager of the Travelers’ Insurance Co., Harry only lived here for two years. For the next 20 years, the house exchanged ownership numerous times and was occupied by a variety of individuals from music teachers to nurses until finally, in 1940, Anton and Beatrice Kettler purchased the house. Like George, Anton worked as a notable contractor and builder in Omaha and throughout Nebraska, primarily building churches and other religious institutional buildings. Anton constructed a nurses’ home at St. Joseph’s Hospital (forerunner to the Creighton Medical Center), St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nebraska City, the Holy Name Church and School building on Fontenelle Boulevard, and the St. Bonaventure Church in Raeville, Nebraska. After living in the home for 21 years, Anton sold the property to John and Kathleen Maloney in 1961. Kathleen was a second generation Irish immigrant while John had only emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1953. After arriving in the United . 18 .

States, John worked as a fireman for the Union Pacific Railroad before attending college at Creighton University under the G.I. Bill. After graduating, John worked for Commercial Federal Savings and Loan Corporation. Haunted by his experience of poverty and destitution growing up in Ireland, John worked tirelessly to direct the company’s efforts toward funding and underwriting cooperative low-income housing projects throughout the city. John and Kathleen eventually converted their home into four apartments and moved elsewhere. For 30 years various tenants occupied the four apartments in the house until the current owners, Jane and Mick Whelan, purchased the home in 1997 and converted the home back into a single-family dwelling.

IMPROVEMENTS Without the help of professional contractors or builders, Jane and Mick began working on the house by themselves, and, over the course of three years, completed enough work on the home to formally move into the home in 2000. Jane and Mick loved the challenge of a fixer-upper, and this home posed no shortage of challenges. While renovating the main kitchen, the only accessible and functional kitchen was located in the former basement apartment via a ladder; a fire in the attic set work back significantly; and a bridge between the former parking stall in the backyard and the second floor apartments tenuously connected the home to the backyard. Jane and Mick also constructed a new addition to the rear of the home, adding new garage space and a weight room. The Whelans also converted the former butler’s pantry into a bathroom and tirelessly stripped layers of paint from the woodwork in the home.

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HISTORY One of the first homes built on Lincoln Boulevard, George and Martha Lee constructed this residence in 1900 for $3,500. George operated the George H. Lee Co., a poultry implements and insecticides business in downtown Omaha. In 1910, Martha, exasperated at the constant stream of her husband’s friends moving in and out of the house for various social functions, commissioned an architect to design an addition to their home. The two-story addition, located on the west side of the house, added a billiards room (with a separate entrance for George’s friends) on the main floor and a sleeping porch with a Murphy bed on the second floor. The original sconces still survive in the billiards room, as does the Murphy bed on the sleeping porch. In 1918, George and Martha found themselves embroiled in scandal. Martha sought a divorce from George after discovering his supposed trysts with a local fortuneteller; news of their divorce proceedings plastered the front pages of the Omaha World-Herald until Martha was granted $10,000 in alimony in September 1918. Shortly thereafter, in 1921, George sold the house to his daughter and son-in-law, Ivy and Donald Burke. A native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Donald attended law school and later taught law at Creighton University. By the time he purchased his father-in-law’s home, he was serving as president of the George H. Lee Co. In . 22 .

1959, Donald and Ivy sold the home to their daughter, Mary, and her husband, Walter Carroll. The Carrolls lived in the home through the 1960s. In 1971 the house exchanged hands once more and was purchased by Ekklesia, a “Christ-oriented youth coffeehouse.” More of a commune than a coffeehouse, Ekklesia converted many areas of the home for religious purposes, adding a pulpit in the parlor and a baptismal font in the garage. The commune frequently hosted workshops on devil worship and witchcraft in addition to the occasional wedding conducted in the garage-converted-chapel in the backyard. When the current owners, Barb and Chris Hake, discovered the home in 1993, the house needed significant work, but Barb and Chris were nevertheless awed by the incredible woodwork and possibilities the home posed. Chris, a violinist in the Omaha symphony, and Barb, a schoolteacher, quickly purchased the house after seeing it.

IMPROVEMENTS During the summer, when Chris and Barb are not at work fulltime, they devote much of their time to restoring the home. Shortly after moving in, Chris finished the third floor and refinished all of the walls in the home. Recently, Chris completed an extensive renovation of the second floor bathroom and finished an overhaul of the home’s kitchen. Chris and Barb attempt, whenever possible, to undertake renovations with a historically sensitive approach; original photographs of the interior of the home taken in 1900 help guide their projects and shed light on the home’s transformation over the last 118 years.

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HISTORY George Garloch, a prominent contractor and builder, built this home for his family in 1909. George’s home incorporated design elements of the American Four Square style: four central rooms on each floor bisected by the main stair hall make up the footprint of the home. Interestingly, George chose to seemingly place the front entrance on the side of the house facing Hawthorne Avenue rather than opening onto the stair hall on the west side of the house. George’s daughter, Nellie, recalled growing up in the home, noting that the living room featured hand painted ceilings, the library was wallpapered with satin, and maids and domestic servants lived on the third floor. Nellie’s fondest memory was roller skating in the basement. In the early decades of the 20th century, George’s contracting firm built many of the homes in Bemis Park, including the two homes immediately to the west of this house. In addition to his contracting work, George and his wife volunteered for the Christian Benevolence Society, an organizational missionary extension of Omaha’s First Presbyterian Church. Both George and his wife were active in the Young Men’s and Women’s Christian Associations (YMCA and YWCA) respectively; during and immediately after World War I, George served overseas with the YMCA and helped construct military barracks in Le Mans, France. . 24 .

George’s military barracks became temporary homes for men waiting to be transferred back to the United States. George sold the home in 1921, at which point various parts of the home were rented to numerous individuals and groups. In 1923 the Delta Theta Phis, a Creighton University fraternity, utilized the home as their fraternity headquarters. Soon after, James and Gertrude Craddock purchased the house. James was an architect who supposedly designed one-tenth of the public schools in Nebraska up to his death in 1932; Gertrude established the Fraternal Order of Does, a women’s auxiliary group of the Elks Club. James ran for the state legislature multiple times and Gertrude was active in Democratic Party women’s organizations. After the Craddocks left the home in 1926, later owners converted the house into seven different apartments, creating space for tenants as varied as nurses at nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital (forerunner to the Creighton University Medical Center), priests, and drug store owners. A group of investors purchased the home in the early 2000s, slowly converting the house back into a single-family residence before placing the home on the market. Traveling in Greece at the time, current owners Jeanne and Jason Smith saw the online listing for the house in 2017; from the pictures alone, the Smiths knew the house was right for them. They placed an offer, sight unseen, and moved in shortly thereafter.

IMPROVEMENTS Since moving in, Jeanne and Jason have installed a brand new boiler in the basement. After discovering a letter written by George Garloch’s daughter, Nellie, detailing the original features of the house, Jeanne and Jason repainted the exterior dove-gray with white trim, just as it appeared when it was first built. Built into the hill behind the home, the original carriage house required stabilization — the Smiths worked to repair a retaining wall built into the steep hillside to solidify the structural integrity of the carriage house. While the home is a single-family unit, one basement apartment still remains. While no longer used as an apartment, Jeanne and Jason have instead converted the space into an Airbnb.

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HISTORY From the carriage house in the backyard, owners William and Jennie Callfas directed and supervised the construction of this home starting in 1915, ensuring every detail was carried out to their satisfaction. Completed in 1918, the home featured then-modern conveniences and intricate details like a bell system to summon servants, a network of pneumatic speaking tubes that ran throughout the home, pressed leather ceilings, and servants quarters on the third floor for the cadre of maids and domestic workers that maintained the public spaces of the home. Originally from Canada, William and Jennie moved to St. Louis in 1898 where William taught anatomy and Jennie pursued her medical degree at Barns University. Both completed postgraduate work in Vienna before moving to Omaha in 1907. While William continued on as a physician in Omaha, Jennie quickly immersed herself in political and civic life throughout Omaha, primarily concentrating her efforts on social welfare activism that promoted and advanced the status of lowincome and immigrant women. In 1917 Jennie organized Omaha’s first squadron of women police officers to patrol the streets at night and protect young women found wandering the streets alone. Jennie consistently lobbied and mobilized other welfare workers through her newlycreated Association for the Protection of Boys and Girls to create a home for working women. . 26 .

Jennie’s plans to “save women from themselves and unscrupulous men” caught the attention of city officials — in July 1918 Mayor Edward Smith appointed Jennie to the city’s public welfare board. From this new position inside city administration, Jennie further propelled her political and civic career at a time when women were discouraged from such participation in public life. Just one month after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 granted women the right to vote, Jennie successfully ran as Nebraska’s committeewoman to the Democratic National Committee. In 1922, Jennie ran for a spot on the Omaha Public School board; she was the first woman to be successfully elected to that position in the board’s history. Having garnered substantial political capital, Jennie undertook the most ambitious campaign of her political career and ran for the United States Senate in 1930. Running as a staunch supporter of Prohibition, Jennie’s campaign was unsuccessful, but she was likely one of the first women in the state of Nebraska to run for such a position. William and Jennie sold the home in 1935 to Ralph and Anna Svoboda and moved to Pasadena, California. After moving in, Ralph and Anna reconfigured the backyard, constructing a new back patio and outdoor fireplace. Ralph — a graduate of Creighton University and attorney at Kennedy, Holland, De Lacy & Svoboda — served as president of the Chamber of Commerce in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1961, Ralph was elected president of the Nebraska State Bar Association. Thomas and Faye Sitzman purchased the home in 1975. Thomas, the assistant physical director at the Jewish Community Center, and Faye, a physical education teacher, were both devoted environmental activists — they opened the home to the Nebraska Sierra Club and operated an independent nature tour business. In 1979, Faye was elected president of the Nebraska chapter of the Sierra Club. Her efforts, combined with the activism of the Sierra Club, successfully stopped the construction of a dam on the Niobrara that would have devastated the present-day Niobrara National Scenic River.

IMPROVEMENTS David and Michaela Doyle purchased the home in 1990, hoping to raise their six children in the home. Early prospects for the home seemed dim, literally. Heavy curtains and drapery gave a somber mood to the home, but after moving in, David and Michaela set to work brightening up the house. David and Michaela extensively renovated and updated all of the bathrooms in the home, installed a new geothermal heating and cooling system, and painted and restored the ceilings and walls of the home. The Architectural Offices (AO) designed a dramatic renovation of the kitchen that removed a butler’s pantry and maid’s staircase to expand the kitchen to its present size. To disguise the removal of the door between the butler’s pantry and the dining room, AO seamlessly matched the original wainscoting in the dining room and an artist repainted a section of the original painted mural.

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BEMIS PARK NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY The Omaha and Otoe Native American tribes first owned and occupied the land that now encompasses Bemis Park. In 1854 the Omaha and Otoe ceded their land to the United States government, formally opening up their land to white settlement. One of the first white settlers to stake out this newly-opened land was Jesse Lowe, first mayor of Omaha. Lowe claimed a 640-acre plot of land he farmed until his death in 1868. The development of the Walnut Hill reservoir in 1881 and construction of a new home by Dr. Samuel Mercer at the present-day corner of 40th and Cuming streets in 1885 marked the first major projects. Shortly thereafter, Mercer banded together with George Bemis — another Omaha mayor — to incorporate the Bemis Park Co. in 1889 to survey and plat the surrounding land for an exclusive and wealthy suburb on the outskirts of the city. New York landscape architect Alfred Edgerton helped plat the neighborhood to fit the topography of the surrounding landscape. Consequently, Bemis Park became the first neighborhood in the city to break away from the rigid grid system. Edgerton’s unique design reflected the shifting nature of urban planning that emphasized the supposed ability of the natural landscape to cure urban social ills. The Omaha Parks Commission, a civic administrative board created in 1889 to develop and improve Omaha’s parks, also shared this philosophy. The Commission hired Horace W.S. Cleveland, a colleague of Frederick Law Olmsted, to plan a vast, interconnected system of parks linked by curving boulevards throughout the city. Within his new parks system, Cleveland incorporated and helped complete the newly surveyed Bemis Park. As Cleveland finished construction on the park, the Bemis Park Co. began aggressively marketing the neighborhood to wealthy, white Omahans, but to no avail. “What has become of Bemis Park?” wondered a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald in 1892. “The time is past when it should have been transformed into something more than a ravine full of trees and possibilities,” the reporter continued. Indeed, with the collapse of the United States economy in 1893, Bemis Park remained empty until the economy recovered later in the decade and doctors, drawn by the recently relocated Methodist Hospital, Creighton University professors, and other white-collar professionals began building their homes in the area. While wealthy white Omahans built and occupied the neighborhood’s grand homes, this was hardly the only population that moved in and out of the neighborhood. A streetcar line stop at 40th and Cuming streets ensured that Bemis Park, distant as it may have seemed, remained integrated and connected with the rest of the city. Immigrants and people of color, especially women, worked as maids in various homes alongside the neighborhood’s wealthy. The neighborhood’s steady development was violently halted on Easter Sunday, 1913. That day, a tornado cut a path northwest across Omaha that tore threw Bemis Park, destroying multiple homes. Emerging from the wreckage, the city was quickly placed

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under martial law in order to bring in national guardsmen to assist in recovery efforts. Because of its central location, the National Guard utilized Bemis Park as their headquarters while they carried out relief operations. As the chaos from the tornado subsided, construction and repairs in Bemis Park resumed until the 1930s when most lots were developed. At the same time, the economic effects of the Great Depression resulted in the subdivision of multiple homes into apartments as homeowners struggled to maintain such large, single-family dwellings. After World War II, such conversions were not seen as simple cost-saving measures, but rather as signs of physical, social, and economic deterioration in Bemis Park. To some, Bemis Park was “blighted,” an official designation that became a watchword for social, economic, and physical stagnation. To counteract blight, governmental and private entities undertook projects to rebuild and reshape America’s urban fabric. Known as urban renewal, in Omaha, these projects took the shape of large public housing buildings, private downtown developments, and the construction of the North Freeway throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Constructed just six blocks east of Bemis Park, the North Freeway posed a literal and metaphorical threat to Bemis Park, destroying the section of Lincoln Boulevard that joined the neighborhood with the city’s parks and boulevards system.

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Reeling from the aftershock of the construction of the freeway and frustrated at the city’s attempts at revitalization, Bemis Park residents took matters of improving their neighborhood into their own hands and formed the Bemis Park Improvement Corporation in 1975. To those in Bemis Park, their Improvement Corporation would succeed where the city had failed, forging a radical new form of participatory and collective democracy that articulated the needs of neighborhood residents into meaningful action. The corporation bought and renovated rundown properties in Bemis Park, cleaned up vacant lots, and promoted neighborhood cohesion. These efforts led to the formation of the Bemis Park Neighborhood Association (BPNA), one of the city’s first neighborhood associations. Like the Improvement Corporation, the BPNA continued to promote the neighborhood’s vitality. This culture continues to define the neighborhood. Still active today, the BPNA continues to promote the welfare of the neighborhood. Bemis Park itself retains the charm and integrity that has defined it since 1889 thanks to the concerted efforts of neighborhood residents that love where they live.

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A prospering neighborhood with A prospering with roots to neighborhood the past!! roots to the past!! Founded in 1889 

First Neighborhood Founded in 1889 in the city with streets platted to follow

the contour of the land First Neighborhood in the city with streets platted to follow One the oldest neighborhood associations in the city theof contour of the land

One of the oldest neighborhood associations in thestyles city in Features three parks, and numerous architectural most built in the early 1900s architectural styles in homes, Features three parks, and numerous

homes, most built in the early 1900s Part of neighborhood designated historic by the Landmark Heritage District  Part of neighborhood designated historic by the Landmark Heritage District on Bemis Park meetings and events, contact For more information 

President Shane Strong on — 831-402-0167 For more information Bemis Park meetings and events, contact President Shane Strong — 831-402-0167

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·· Major Support: Hayneedle ·· Home Sponsors: AIA Omaha; Field Day Development/ Lund-Ross Constuctors; Better Homes and Garden Real Estate-the Good Life Group ·· Inkind: RDG Planning & Design (Tour Book Design) B.G. Peterson (Food Donations) AO (Printing)


Nathan King




·· Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture ·· Baird Holm ·· Eurowood ·· Eyman Plumbing Heating and Air ·· Manley Floors ·· Pella Window and Door ·· Re/Max Results | Team Wiebusch ·· Renaissance Roofing ·· AO ·· Big Muddy Workshop ·· Lawrence Paint Co.

Laura Shiffermiller

And most especially to the Bemis Park Neighborhood and our home owners for sharing their properties with us!


·· Nicole Malone ·· Judy Alderman ·· Mary Darling ·· Beth Feltus ·· Kristine Gerber ·· Michelle Jackson-Triplett ·· Heather Hoyt ·· Sherri Moore ·· Deb Peterson ·· Crystal Sierra ·· Kate Sullivan ·· Teri Watson ·· Trina Westman ·· Plus those who helped staff the homes today.


Have an idea for where we should have the 2019 Neighborhood Tour? Share with us: . 32 .

Boilers Ductless HVAc PlumBing DrAin cleAning WAter HeAters HeAting & Air

24/7/365 • 402-731-2727 • . 33 .

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Tom Manley, Owner Wood Floor Installation & Refinish





Tom Manley, Owner Wood Floor Installation & Refinishing



Beautiful custom cabinetry for every room in your home or business

3415 South 67th St. Omaha, NE 68106

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(402) 393-4110

Renaissance RooďŹ ng, Inc. Bringing New Life to Historical Roofing Systems

Another Historic Roof Restoration in Omaha, NE

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Restoration of Sacred Heart Catholic Church

We strive to respect the past, serve the needs of today’s users, and create a statement for future generations.

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Welcome to the neighborhood!

Vaughn: 402-708-7108, Anna: 402-669-9916,

T E A M w e e b u s h . c o m

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reserved for

Pella® Architect Series® Reserve™ windows and patio doors evoke the craftsmanship of previous generations. But it’s today’s conveniences and your unique vision that can turn traditional into timeless. We’d call this new offering a modern-day classic.


PELLAOMAHA.COM 402-493-1350

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A section of AIA Nebraska For events and updates follow us on social media and at For over 150 years, members of The American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. AIA members have access to the right people, knowledge, and tools to create better design, and through resour such resources and access, they help clients and communities make their visions real. AIA Omaha represents more than 350 architects, emerging professionals and allied/afďŹ liate members in the Omaha metro. Follow Us: @AIAOmaha @AIANebraska

AIA Omaha AIA Nebraska

AIA Nebraska | (402) 858-1929 | 335 North 8th Street, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68508

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