Corner of 11th and C Streets, view west, 1953. Photo courtesy of City of Schuyler
The historic downtown districts of Beatrice, Crete, and Schuyler are now listed on the National Register of Historic places. The listing is part of an ongoing effort to encourage revitalization efforts in local communities through historic preservation. History Nebraska is actively evaluating downtown historic districts, and worked with local economic development groups and civic leaders to nominate the business districts. By evaluating commercial downtown areas in small- and medium-sized towns, History Nebraska encourages revitalization of the districts through local “main street” programs, economic development programs, and the work of local officials. Details on the historic downtown districts: Beatrice Downtown Historic District The downtown area has served the surrounding region with goods and services since 1857. The historic district centers on Court Street (US Hwy 136) and 6th Street (US Hwy 77). The district includes 119 buildings, reflecting the community’s development from 1872 (when the oldest surviving building was constructed) to the early downtown revitalization efforts of the 1960s. The listing of the Beatrice historic district was supported by Main Street Beatrice, a local program which is actively pursuing revitalization in the downtown. The program is an affiliate of the Nebraska Main Street Network. Efforts are being guided by a downtown revitalization plan.
George Barber Building, 413 Court Street, Beatrice
Crete Downtown Historic District The district includes buildings representing a variety of historic uses, including retail, industry, lodging, and entertainment. Crete’s first settler arrived in 1863, but the arrival of the railroad in 1871 spurred the town’s growth and the rapid development of its downtown. Czech and German immigrants built some of the major downtown buildings and operated many of the businesses. The historic district includes 53 properties, more than half of which date to the 1910s and 1920s. The nomination was supported by the city’s economic and community development program, which has issued a Crete downtown redevelopment plan, including a building-by-building inventory and design guidelines for its older and historic buildings.
Czech immigrant Joseph Kopetzsky in front of his jewelry store at 1229 Main Avenue in Crete. Photo courtesy of Crete Historical Society
Schuyler Downtown Historic District Comprising Schuyler’s commercial and civic core, the district includes forty-eight historic buildings from the 1880s through the 1950s that represent the town’s development as a thriving agricultural community sustained by the eras of railroad transportation and the arrival of the Lincoln Highway. The buildings housed a variety of commercial and civic functions essential to the development of a growing city, such as general merchandise stores, movie theaters, farm supply outlets, restaurants, specialty stores, and financial institutions. The Lincoln Highway passed through downtown, represented by several automobile agencies and a gas station, all included in the National Register listing. The former city hall, Carnegie library, post office, and courthouse represent the civic functions that supported the district. Civic leaders requested the listing to support downtown revitalization. The National Register nomination was supported by Schuyler Community Development, a nonprofit organization that supports economic development by expanding collaborative partnerships, growing the local tax base, and enhancing the community’s quality of life. Guided by a downtown revitalization plan, the community has already begun working on marketing efforts, public education, and other programming that will help building owners in the newly listed district.
About the National Register of Historic Places The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s inventory of properties deemed worthy of preservation. It is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and preserve our historic resources. Listing on the National Register of Historic Places offers certain incentives for rehabilitating individual properties that may contribute to a National Register district. Among these are the federal and state tax credits and a property tax incentive. Nominations to the National Register of Historic Places are made by History Nebraska. Listings are entered by the National Park Service.