We can’t win all fights

The Clarinda, 2014, courtesy of Ruben Acosta.

It is a sad truth: not every historic building can be saved. This was made evident on July 1st as the Omaha City Council voted unanimously to remove the Clarinda-Page apartment buildings’ local landmark designation, which had been granted in 1981. Mutual of Omaha now has the go-ahead to demolish the historic buildings within its current redevelopment project.

The Clarinda and Page Apartments were built in 1909 and 1914 by contractor William W. Welch; the buildings were each named for Welch’s home town and home county in Iowa. The architecture is a simple and graceful example of the Georgian Revival style, which was prominent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The apartments also have the distinction of representing a departure from previous apartment buildings in Omaha. They were among the city’s earliest luxury apartments, aimed at higher-income renters who did not require proximity to a streetcar line. They were prominently placed near Turner Park, part of Omaha’s Parks and Boulevards system, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Today these buildings stand as a reminder of historic Omaha. Soon, they will be gone.

Though many historic structures have been and will be demolished, the efforts of local and state preservation organizations attempt to seek alternatives. It is obviously preferable – from a preservation standpoint, and often, an economic standpoint – to keep and enhance historic buildings as “living” parts of our communities. Just look at all the Omaha buildings that have found new and functional uses, providing housing and revitalization of neighborhoods and the Omaha commercial center.

Now more than ever, we can see how important preservation is to communities across the state of Nebraska; don’t hesitate to get involved! Find a local neighborhood association, preservation group, or even contact the State Historic Preservation Office to see how you can help protect Nebraska’s built heritage.

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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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