Monday, August 31, 2015

Wandering Southeastern Nebraska (#2)

After visiting the Homestead National Monument of America and the town of Beatrice Nebraska, we headed east toward the Missouri River on US Hwy. 136.

This is the Johnson County Courthouse in Tecumseh Nebraska.  Established in 1857, Johnson County is one of the earliest counties in Nebraska.  This Romanesque Revival-style building replaced 2 earlier courthouses.  It was completed in 1889 and it’s the oldest courthouse in the state.  I really like the juxtaposition of stone and the bright red brick…with the corner towers and the central dome.  It successfully projects an image of permanence and importance.
Note the old building in the background to the left of the courthouse.  That is the Tecumseh City Hall and it is also about 125 years old...  Unfortunately the lower left side of that building appears to have been ‘modified’ or ‘updated’, damaging its historical value.  From what I could determine, wind damage necessitated the ‘modernization’.

The Tecumseh Architectural District is a fine example of a late nineteenth century county seat town in Nebraska.  A wide range of important building types and building materials exist in the approximately fifty square blocks of the district.  Of course the courthouse is the pivotal structure.  

That Rexall Drug Store in the photo occupies a building that was completed in 1880…9 years earlier than the Johnson County Courthouse!  Actually that building used to be Tecumseh’s Opera House… The first floor commercial space was originally occupied by a barbershop and restaurant.  The opera house occupied the entire second floor.  It  provided a place where the community gathered for dances, meetings, movies, and other forms of entertainment.  If we had been there in November 1887, we could have attended the annual masquerade ball and been entertained and bedazzled by Professor Jundano, “ventriloquist and ledgerdemainist”.


·       Tecumseh was the town largely used as the setting of the mini-series “Amerika”, which depicted life in a small American town after a successful takeover by the Soviet Union.

The photo above shows the Tecumseh Nebraska Burlington Railway station that served the community prior to 1910.

At its founding, Tecumseh was an "inland town" away from the Missouri River and it struggled to survive.  All materials and supplies had to be hauled overland, and while there was an adequate supply of game and crops, getting them marketed was a problem, so money was scarce.  Interest rates were from 18 to 60 percent! (Holy Payday Loan Batman!)

In the early 1870s, the Atchison and Nebraska Railroad laid its rails through Johnson County, linking Tecumseh with the new capital city of Lincoln in 1872.  The railroad proved to be "...the impetus to the growth and stability" needed.  In April 1872, when the first train arrived at the depot in the southern end of town, there were about 100 homes and 20 businesses.   Tecumseh reached its peak in 1940 with 2,104 residents.  Today its population is about 1,650.

From what I could determine, this former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was built in Tecumseh ca. 1910.  It appears that the Burlington Railroad still owns this property.  I couldn’t find any other information on this structure…


·       The town was named "Tecumseh" after the famous Shawnee Chief who was killed in battle by Colonel Richard Johnson…for whom the County was named.  The town was originally named “Frances” after Johnson’s wife…

Moving east, this is the First United Presbyterian Church at 1322 19th Street in Auburn Nebraska.  It was constructed in 1906-7 in the Late Gothic Revival style.  The interior exhibits the "Akron plan," which originated in the 1860's and is characterized by an arrangement in which instructional rooms are adjacent to the auditorium and separated by a folding partition that can be opened for additional seating during services. (It doesn’t seem that revolutionary to me…but I guess it was from a design perspective)


·       The towns of Calvert and Sheridan combined to form Auburn in 1882. The goal of the merge in part was to gain the voting power needed to wrestle the county seat designation away from Brownville Nebraska, a village located nine miles east.

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. It's amazing that their Presbyterian Church looks so similar to the one in my little Arkansas small town. It's long since been torn down and rebuilt on a different site, but it sure brought back memories for me.

  2. What a beautiful place! You sure know the nicest locations. By the way David, banoffie pie is a famous British pie. It's made with a caramel filling, bananas and whipped cream