As a real estate company focused on buying and selling homes, we are especially interested in the many historic homes in and around Omaha. These preserved artifacts tell the story of our region’s past — and most importantly, the people who once occupied them, many of whom played significant roles in shaping our beautiful city.
Let’s take a look inside some of the most notable historic homes in the Omaha area, from the heart of the city to the small town of Brownville, and even over to the capital city of Lincoln. And better yet, you can tour each of these homes in person to see their historic charm and learn more about their fascinating stories!
The General Crook House Museum is the authentically restored home of Civil War and National Indian Wars hero, General George Crook, known for his supporting role in the landmark 1879 trial of Standing Bear vs. Crook. The house was built in 1879 in an Italianate style, representing the grandeur of the military frontier. You can tour the home any day of the week and get a taste of what life was like for a commanding officer living in the frontier during the 1880s, complete with antique furnishings from the Victorian era. The property comes to life in the warmer months with its stunning heirloom garden, and in November and December, the museum is decked out with grand holiday decorations! Click here for more information about tours.
In 1917, Edward J. Flanagan rented a boarding house on the edge of downtown Omaha and established a refuge for homeless boys of all races and religions. In the first year, they served over 1,000 young men and became known as Father Flanagan’s Home for Boys. When they realized that more space was needed, they secured a farm west of Omaha, which became the permanent home for the Village of Boys Town. Boys Town has been a National Historic Monument since 1985 and offers plenty of space for you to explore, from the Hall of History to the Boys Town Visitor Center. You can even take a tour of Father Flanagan’s former residence and see many of his personal belongings. Click here for more information about Boys Town tours. You can even download the Boys Town Visitor Tours app to be your own tour guide!
While Joslyn Castle might not be an actual castle, it’s still a remarkable site. This gorgeous mansion is located in the Gold Coast Historic District of Omaha and was built by Sarah and George Joslyn, the area’s first millionaires and philanthropists. Many local institutions benefited from George and Sarah’s generosity, including the University of Omaha, the Nebraska Humane Society, the Fontanelle Home for the Aged, and many more. The castle-like mansion was completed in 1903 and features 35 different rooms (including a few hidden ones) that you can explore during a guided tour. Public tours include a 10-minute video overview of the Joslyns’ story, followed by a room-by-room guided tour. Tours are available on Sundays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m., Mondays at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and Thursdays at 1 p.m. Reservations are not required. Or you can schedule a private tour 48 hours in advance!
Regarded as the oldest building in Nebraska, the Bellevue Log Cabin was constructed between 1830 and 1835 and built close to the Missouri River as a part of the Jacob Astor Fur Trading Post. It was relocated further from the river in 1835 during the cholera outbreak, and moved once again in 1850 to its current location, which was previously the property of the Presbyterian Mission. You can read more information about this fascinating cabin here and schedule a tour of the property by contacting the Sarpy County Museum.
Did you know that Arbor Day was founded in Nebraska? In 1872, Nebraska City locals J. Sterling and Caroline Morton challenged people everywhere to plant as many trees as they could on April 10th. On that first Arbor Day, as it came to be known, it’s estimated that over a million trees were planted in the Nebraska territory. Today, you can tour the Mortons’ home and the stunning 72-acre grounds that are, of course, full of trees, shrubs, walking trails and beautiful gardens. The mansion contains 52(!) rooms and countless historic artifacts that belonged to the Morton family. The grounds are open daily year-round, with no admission or park permit required. But you must purchase tickets to tour the mansion; get more details about hours and admission here.
Located in Fremont, the Louis E. May Museum is a stunning brick building with white pillars built in the Italianate Revival style. It was built in 1874 by Theron Nye, the first mayor of Fremont. It was passed down to his son in 1900 and from 1901 to 1902, it was remodeled for $30,000, which was a small fortune at the time. From April to December, the museum is open for tours Wednesday through Saturday from 1:30–4:30 p.m.
Located in Brownville, the Captain Bailey House is a remarkable Gothic Revival, seven-gable brick dwelling built in the late 1860s or early 1870s for Benson M. Bailey, a Civil War captain who lived in the home with his wife for several years. It is constructed of brick sourced from one of the three brick factories in early Brownville. The house originally resided along the Missouri River, but was relocated brick by brick to its current location in 1877, when the river began to change course and endanger the structure. According to nearby residents, the house is still inhabited by the ghosts of Captain and Mrs. Bailey, who were both believed to be poisoned by a jealous neighbor. Visit the museum to see for yourself if the rumors are true!
The Carson House, also known as the Brown-Carson House, was originally built in 1860 by Richard Brown, the founder of Brownville. A year later, he added a two-story frame wing and sold the home to John L. Carson, an early Nebraska banker, in 1864. Carson added another addition in about 1880. Otherwise, this gorgeous Italianate property has remained virtually unchanged since then — and even has a carriage house built some time before 1880. And in 1966, Carson’s daughter, Rose, bequeathed the home and carriage house to the Brownville Historical Society upon her death. You can tour the Brown-Carson House on Saturdays and Sundays from 1–4 p.m. from mid-May through mid-October.
Built in 1869, the Thomas P. Kennard House is the oldest remaining building in Lincoln’s original plat. It belonged to Thomas P. Kennard, the first Secretary of State for Nebraska and one of the three men responsible for picking Lincoln as the state’s new capital in 1867. It was built in the elaborate Italianate style by Chicago architect John K. Winchell in order to create confidence in the city, acting as a symbol of hope. This 2.5-story stuccoed brick building has a frame cupola on a shallow-pitched hip roof. It was extensively restored during Lincoln’s centennial anniversary in 1967 and features beautiful Victorian furnishings and exhibits that will transport you directly to the past. Tours of the house are currently not available, but check here for updates in the future — or call 402-432-0525 for more information.
The Historic General Dodge House is a beautifully preserved 19th-century mansion located in Council Bluffs. This handsome three-story Victorian home was built in 1869 for just $35,000 — a lavish sum in that day — by General Grenville M. Dodge, who was a prominent Union Army officer and railroad executive. (Fun fact: He was also the brother of NP Dodge Real Estate’s founder!) The house is a magnificent example of Second Empire architecture, featuring 14 rooms with parquet floors, cherry, walnut and butternut woodwork, and a number of “modern” conveniences quite unusual for the period. Visitors to the house can take a guided tour to learn about the history of the Dodge family and their significant contributions to the development of the American West. The house features a stunning collection of period furnishings, including original pieces owned by the Dodge family, as well as rare artifacts and memorabilia from General Dodge’s military and business careers. The Historic General Dodge House is open Tuesdays through Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., with the last tour taking off no later than 4 p.m.
If These Walls Could Speak
The stories they would tell! Which of these historic homes in Omaha is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below.
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