Friday, August 28, 2015

Wandering Southeastern Nebraska

We still had a day and a half to go before we were due at our son’s family home in Omaha.  There was still plenty of time to take a look at many more historic sites and sights here in southeastern Nebraska…

This is the Gage County Courthouse at 612 Grant Street in Beatrice Nebraska.  Gage County was established in 1856.  Despite the county’s early beginning, it didn’t have a courthouse until ca. 1870.  At about that year the first courthouse was constructed and it was used until 1889. After voters passed a $100,000 bond issue for a new facility, construction began on this imposing structure in 1890.  In 1892, the Richardsonian Romanesque style courthouse was opened.
The monument that is dramatically centered in front of the courthouse is topped by a cannon with a metal eagle sculpture mounted on it.  The names of soldiers from the county who died in the Civil War are inscribed on 3 sides of the pedestal and war dead from the Spanish-American War are inscribed on the 4th side.  The large black Veteran’s Memorial in front of the larger one is intended to honor all military veterans…


·       Gage County was one of the 19 counties originally established by the Nebraska Territorial Legislature in 1854.  At the time it was established there were no settlers living within the county!

Christ Church Episcopal is located at 520 North 5th Street in Beatrice.  This Gothic Revival style church was built in 1889-90.  Additions were made to the church between 1914 and 1920 and then again in 1951.  Despite the lack of a permanent structure, the Episcopal Church held its first services in Beatrice in 1869.  The Christ Church parish was formally organized in 1873.  In 1874 the first Episcopal Church building was constructed.  Services were held in that wood frame structure for the next 16 years.

As a result of the church being constructed in a manner which met the stringent Ecclesiological Movement/church requirements of the time, the parish was in considerable debt when the building was completed.  To help offset this debt 2 loans were secured in 1891 for $12,000.  The church defaulted on the loans in 1897.  In order to ease the debt the Diocese sent one of their Bishops to New York, Chicago and other eastern cities to solicit contributions.  The mission met with considerable success.  Amongst the contributors were the Boys Club of Chicago and J. Pierpont Morgan.  The debt was finally retired in 1908.


·       The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America was organized after the American Revolution, when it became separate from the Church of England.  In England, the clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England.  The church in the USA became the first Anglican ‘province’ outside the British Isles.

Yes…you are correct!  It is yet another Carnegie Library...  This particular library is located at 220 South 5th Street in Beatrice.  The structure, which is an example of what is termed the “Beaux-Arts” style, was built in 1902 – 1903.  

The establishment of a permanent library was due to the efforts of the Beatrice Literary Club, which was founded in 1890.  It had continued the earlier efforts of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. (I guess that the thought was that if a person read books they would give up the bottle)  In 1902 the library board obtained a $20,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie.  A grand opening was held on January 1, 1904, to celebrate the new building's completion.


·       Director and silent film star Harold Lloyd and actor Robert Taylor were both from Beatrice.  In addition to many films, Lloyd was a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Taylor is remembered by many as the actor who took over the hosts duties from Ronald Regan for the TV series “Death Valley Days”. (1966 -1969)

This colorful building at 115 North 5th Street in Beatrice is referred to as the J. Schmuck Block.  Constructed in 1887 by John Schmuck, a German immigrant who found considerable success as a shoemaker, the Schmuck Block is a flashy example of the High Victorian Eclectic style.  

The façade of this three-story brick building displays a wealth of over-the-top decoration and ornamentation that were obviously inspired by a variety of architectural styles.  It has a mansard roof, a Gothic arch, a Romanesque arch, and the patterned brick work and complex surfaces of a Queen Anne design.  The combination yields a look that one can consider gaudy or opulent…i.e., the Gilded Age.


·       The population of Beatrice Nebraska peaked in 1890 with 13,835 residents.  The most recent estimates put the town’s population at about 12,100.

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

Thanks for stopping by for a short walk through history!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. How unusual - a county with no settlers. That's what I would call planning in advance or build it and they'll come.

  2. The lack of wood on the plains sure resulted in some great looking stone buildings.