History Nebraska Blog

Four Nebraska Locations Added to National Register of Historic Places

History Nebraska is pleased to announce that four locations have been recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. The A.B. Fuller House in Decatur, St. Patrick's Catholic Church in O'Neill, North Platte Commercial Historic District, and Little Bohemia Neighborhood in Omaha were all considered and selected by the National Parks Service for listing.

When the Decatur Museum Board purchased the A.B. Fuller House in 2006, they immediately began work to save a building whose historic legacy was in jeopardy. Using a single black-and-white photograph for reference, they were able to rebuild its original support columns and cupola and restore it to its former grandeur. Now their hard work has culminated in a place on the National Register.

The building now houses the Decatur Museum, where visitors can see its original brickwork, which was kilned by Azariah Bemis Fuller when he built it in 1875. Fuller built the house in the Italianate style, which was typical for prominent and successful politicians or business people throughout Nebraska's early statehood. A.B. Fuller certainly earned his position of prominence—he built most of Decatur's first buildings, operated a hotel, a sawmill, and was briefly involved in organizing a coal mining company.

David Calease of our State Historic Preservation Office notes the importance of Fuller and his home to Decatur's history. "He oversaw the building of a large number of buildings in Decatur and the surrounding area and had an impact on establishing the community," says Calease. "The Decatur Historical Museum has done a great job of renovating the house back to its historic appearance following a period as a duplex."

Very few changes have been made to St. Patrick's Catholic Church since it was built in 1910. Generations of families have sat on the original hardwood pews and looked up at the brilliant stained glass windows which were imported from Germany.

Father Starman, pastor of St. Patrick's, believes that the designation of the church on the National Register will help the parishioners of Saint Patrick's. "This designation will help them to further realize the historical significance of our parish in O'Neill and in the state, which gives the opportunity to redouble our efforts to be the 'voice' of Jesus Christ to all who live and travel through our community." Father Starman describes the church as a symbol of history, longevity, faithfulness, community, sharing, strength, hope, security, and presence. 

Built out of brick, wood, and natural stone, St. Patrick's features two towers, a large rose window, and a 4000-pound bell purchased from the McShane Bell Foundry of Maryland in 1886. The medieval-style stained glass windows are of excellent quality. The windows on the West all illustrate events in the life of Christ, while those on the east wall are Irish, German, and Polish saints, reflecting the ethnic diversity of the early settlers. Also, of note, Father Edward J. Flanagan served his first parish assignment at St. Patrick's Church in 1912. Father Flanagan is best known as the founder of Boys Town, which was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1985.

David Calease from our State Historic Preservation Office describes the building as central to O'Neill's history and heritage. "The beautiful stained glass windows throughout the building really stand out."

Downtown North Platte certainly reflects the community's pride in its history. The original 1917 brick streets have been restored, and a recent renovation project removed 1980s era metal canopies from storefronts.

Renae Brandt started this project after she worked on renovating the second floor of the historic Dixon Building. She is hopeful that the new historic district will encourage investment and renovation.  "We have already seen many façade improvements, and the tax credits available may give an incentive to complete large building renovations," says Brandt. She also sees the nomination as an opportunity to tell their story as a community. "The downtown area represents the history of The North Platte Canteen, the UPRR, and the many businesses and people that helped to shape our community."

The historic district encompasses approximately twelve blocks. The rough boundaries are 4th Street on the south, Front Street to the North, Vine Street on the west, and Chestnut Street on the east. The north side is roughly located between 7th and 9th Streets, from Vine Street to Dewey Street. The 60 contributing properties located within these boundaries may be eligible for historic tax credits that can be applied to rehabilitation projects.

David Calease from our State Historic Preservation Office says that this is a unique historic district. "It consists of two separate areas, divided by the railroad tracks," says Calease. "The two areas are intricately linked as both were vital to establishing and sustaining North Platte's commercial success. There is a lot of excitement in North Platte for its downtown areas, and we feel that the historic district and the financial incentives it provides can be a great asset to the community moving forward."

In the early twentieth century, nearly all Czechs living in Omaha lived in the Little Bohemia neighborhood, or as it was alternately called Praha or Bohemia Town. Most of the buildings in this area are still around today despite being built between 1885 and 1900.

The unique interspersing of residential and commercial properties reflects the live/work atmosphere of the Czech community. The Czech community enjoyed socializing and often drinking and brewing beer. Beer gardens, taverns, and bars were common in the district. In response to widespread anti-foreign sentiment following WWI, the Czech culture in many small towns across Nebraska began to fade noticeably. As a result, people would seek out the Little Bohemia neighborhood for restaurants, taverns, and tastes of their Czech culture.

David Calease from our State Historic Preservation Office sees a bright future for this area. "This area is undergoing a resurgence, and there are people who want to make sure historic preservation is a part of this neighborhood's future to help it retain key aspects of its rich history."

The 40 contributing buildings in this district are now all potentially eligible for historic tax credits that can be applied to rehabilitation projects. The boundaries of the area are roughly South 13th Street from Hickory Street to one block north of William Street.

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 local and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect the nation's historic and archeological resources. The National Register was developed to recognize historic places and their role in contributing to our country's heritage. Properties listed in the National Register either individually or as contributing to a historic district are eligible for State and Federal tax incentives. For more information on the National Register program in Nebraska check out the resources and information available from our Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office.

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