“We depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mold, to a helpful vision of ourselves. We arrange around us material forms which we communicate to us what we need — but are at constant risk of forgetting what we need — within. We turn to wallpaper, benches, paintings and streets to staunch the disappearance of our true selves.”- Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
I first came across this old store a few years ago while searching for abandoned places to photograph downtown. I just happened to come across a post the other day that said the building had been purchased over a year ago, and was being demolished. In fact, she is probably gone at this point. She was built in the 1900 with this glorious Queen Anne window, according to both this Zillow post, and Douglas Co Assessor. She sold last year for the last time in 2018 to NODO Condos LLC, and I’m not sure if she is still standing: Zillow post link.
Both of the russet brick buildings are considered 611 16th. At one point, there was a saloon in the late 1800’s in the spot where the two corner buildings stood, which changed hands a couple of times, and then in 1900, Schlitz built another bar, or at least this is what the archived newspaper articles in the Omaha World Herald alluded to.
The black and white below is of the side of the building, that still had the billboard brackets fastened onto the side. Can’t you just picture an old Coca-Cola billboard hanging from the building, featuring a curvy pin-up girl?
One thing I love most about older buildings is the number of past lives they have had, and you would never know it by first glance
How many faces have peered out of this corner bay window watching the people below bustling down the street?
There is also another interesting old hotel across the street (still there and still open) if you care to drive by.
I scoured the Omaha World Herold’s archives for articles and headlines about the buildings, and I did find one pretty interesting about several clairvoyants (below). And there was one particular psychic medium, Madam Liverpool, who gave psychic readings in our building of 611 16th in 1912. I absolutely love this!
In the photo below you can see still on the window on the left, Variety Store, and on the bricks on the other side wedged in between the other buildings, Central Bargain.
The final two photos (BELOW) of this building (originally published by The Durham), showing our building while in use. September, 1924. The fabulous window says, rugs, Nebraska Furniture or Furnishings.
The Northwestern Hotel (BELOW) is no longer on the North 16th Street, as there is now a large parking lot on the corner of 16th and Webster. On the farrrrrthest right, is the window of our store! And look at the two cute little boys in the street. Credit for this photo: Louis Bostwick (1868-1943) and Homer Frohardt (1885-1972), publisher: The Durham Museum, September 1924
Another historic building downtown I’ve kept my eye on is The Fitzgerald Hotel at 17th and Cuming Street is just an amazing old building. She was originally erected in the early 20th century, and it has been boarded up, vacant since it closed in 2006. The building was a rent-by-the month boardinghouse, which was an intermediary period from homelessness. It closed due to building code violations.
The 107-year-old building also has a history as a pharmacy. The good news is The Fitzgerald will soon have a second chance as high-end urban apartments. The units facing Cuming Street will have their own entrance to a second-floor apartment. There will be an outdoor courtyard with a wrought-iron gate, and brick columns – making it a private, secure, beautiful place for tenants to socialize.
I love seeing these old places actually being revitalized rather than ripped down or left to rot.
“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.”
Trish Eklund is the owner and creator of Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed, and Family Fusion Community, an online resource for blended families of all types. Abandoned Nebraska: Echoes of Our Past, Trish’s first book, is now available for pre-order. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska, Snapshot Nebraska, Visit Nebraska, Abando Globe, ListVerse, Grime Scene Investigators, Nature Takes Over, Raw Abandoned, and Pocket Abandoned. Trish has an essay in in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz. Her writing has been featured on The Mighty, Huffington Post Divorce, Making Midlife Matter, The Five Moms, and Her View From Home. She has written four young adult novels and is currently working on her first adult novel.
Photo of Trish by Don Shepard of Don Shepard Photography: Link.