Senator George Norris State Historic Site

Senator George Norris Site
Information

Seasonal Hours May 1 - October 1

Friday and Saturday: 10:00AM – 3:00PM

Off-Season Hours October 2 - April 30

By Appointment Only – Based on Availability

No public restrooms are available. Please no food or drink when visiting.

Admission

Free

Address

706 Norris Avenue
McCook, NE 69001-3142
George Norris changed rural life by working in a big city—Washington, D.C. As a U.S. Senator, he fathered the Rural Electrification Act that brought electric power to farms across the nation. He changed Nebraska’s government by convincing citizens a one-house Unicameral legislature would serve them best. Norris spent over forty years in the U.S. Congress, fighting to make life better for the common people. This humble house in McCook served as his home base from 1902 to 1944. The house and all its furnishings were donated to History Nebraska by Norris’s wife, Ellie, in 1968.

Norris represented Nebraska in Congress for over forty years. And he changed not just Nebraska, but the entire U.S. Norris believed that everyone should have access to electricity and sponsored the Rural Electrification Act. Some thought his controversial support for public power was socialistic or un-American. The REA ran into some resistance, but passed and brought new light and new life to farms across the country

A Republican, Norris ignored party lines to align his votes with his beliefs. Norris felt the two-party system was outdated and unnecessary. He set off around Nebraska campaigning for a non-partisan, one-house state legislature. In 1934 Nebraskans voted to create the nation’s only unicameral legislature. It first convened in 1937.

Norris’s big ideas originated in a little house in McCook. After his very long career in government he returned to his home base until his death in 1944.

Life as a Public Servant

Who influenced him to become so future-minded? Did Norris influence a future generation of public servants? We interviewed three community leaders in McCook, Nebraska, to investigate these questions. Watch here to find out more.
Bring this story of a life-long public servant to your school. History Nebraska is now offering a Distance Learning Program that will take students into George Norris’s home* to see even more artifacts and photos and investigate these public servant questions. Contact Ashlee Anderson at [email protected] for more information.

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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