Flashback Fridays

Friday Flashback: Lincoln’s Early Architecture (Book Review)

Note: Unable to read the full review right now?  Please skip to the end to find out about the special event happening in Lincoln TOMORROW (Saturday June 14th) regarding this book.  If you want the article summary, I do highly recommend the book Lincoln’s Early Architecture by Lincoln authors Hansen, McKee and Zimmer.

Reading books that connect the past with the present are always the ones that intrigue me.  I relish titles that meld the distant past with current reality.  This is the perfect description of the book that I am in the middle of enjoying.  Normally a person should probably not suggest someone read a book that he or she has not actually completed.  Yet I can recommend the non-fiction work, Lincoln’s Early Architecture,  without reservation, even though I am only halfway through finishing.

Lincoln’s Early Architecture is written by the “who’s who” of Lincoln historic building experts.  Any one of these three men could have written a great historical Lincoln book on their own.  In fact, a few of them already have published historical Lincoln books.  By collaborating and sharing their own collections, the results are outstanding.   Matthew Hansen is a Nebraska preservation architect who has worked on restoring the Nebraska capitol.  James McKee is a business owner and just happens to be THE Lincoln city historian.  Edward Zimmer works as Lincoln and Lancaster County historic preservation planner.  See what I mean on their qualifications?

At only 127 pages, this book is not overly lengthy.  Covering so many places around Lincoln, the information to be absorbed is rather extensive.  Reading this book from cover to cover may not ever happen in one sitting for me.  Using this book as a reference will happen repeatedly.  In fact, I plan on keeping the title in my car for many months to come.  I do believe I will have to convince my husband to drive me downtown more often – that way I can stare about in identification mode and not get into any accidents!

Employing the use of historic photographs, the authors relay how Lincoln used to be. The result, for me, was a curiosity to know more.  Reading about what was is a great starting point.  Now I want to go to downtown Lincoln and see what still is.

 

Kennard Historic Lincoln

I took this picture of a picture inside of the still-standing Kennard House.  So hard to believe that this was Lincoln’s humble beginnings.  Of the buildings in this photograph, you can only visit the one. 

Several of the buildings are immediately recognizable to me just based on seeing the picture.  Trying to identify many of the others is more of a challenge.  Especially since the downtown Lincoln skyline is definitely a conglomeration between old and new.  Thankfully the book does make a note as to which buildings are still standing.  Many of these pictured structures have now been razed.  Several for parking lots. This makes me a bit sad.

Not all of the included buildings are found in downtown Lincoln.  Places throughout the city are included for historical reference.  This book answered a question that I had always wanted to investigate.

What is the significance of the Indian statue in Pioneer Park?
Indian smoke signals at Pioneer Park

Other than knowing the name of the statue (“The Smoke Signal”), I always wondered why the statue is even there.  While I believe a bit of this information is nearby the statue,  the story was incomplete.  By reading page 122 in this book, I finally know the full story behind the Indian!

Evidently before Ellis Luis Burman Jr. made his mark in special effects, props and make-up in Hollywood, he was a Lincoln man.  Hired as a sculptor to design several of the statues around Pioneer’s Park, this one is his most famous one.  Weighing in at five tons and standing at fifteen feet, this depiction of Chief Red Cloud makes an impression.

I know that I will enjoy learning more about Lincoln architecture past and present in the weeks to come.  Getting your own copy of the book is simple.  One of my favorite book stores in Lincoln, Indigo Bridge Books, is having a book reading and signing with at least two of the authors from 1:00-2:00.  You can purchase a copy of the book at that location!  Incidentally, snacks and coffee will be served.   Come for the food and the story – go home with an interesting reference book about Lincoln.  Definitely a worthwhile outing!  Unable to attend?  The book store will continue to have copies available, as do other book retailers.

P.S. Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book to review.  This would have been a title on my to-read list.  By bringing the book to my attention, my knowledge of historical Lincoln will continue to expand.  I will definitely be referencing the book again on this blog!

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Categories: Flashback Fridays, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History, People Behind the Place | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: National Donut Day & Celebrating in Nebraska

This is one of my family’s favorite holidays.  Besides Christmas and Easter of course and Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.  Maybe I should just say, this is a day that we definitely like to remember.  We do like our donuts.  Taking six people out for donuts can get a bit expensive, so mainly we buy them when they are on sale at the store.  This is one day that my kids get to go to our favorite donut shop (LaMar’s Donuts) and enjoy a fresh, piping hot morsel of deliciousness.

Until reading a small paragraph in a local grocery advertisement, I just assumed that the holiday was created by a donut franchise somewhere who wanted more business.  (Kind of the like the Jimmy John’s Customer Appreciation Day – we like that one too!  Noticing a trend here?  Yes, we like free food! I do have 3 boys after all! 🙂 )

Anyway, enough tangents.  I was quite surprised to discover that there is actually a story behind “National Donut Day.”  And the tale is meaningful one that involves two important organizations: The Salvation Army and our United States military.

 

Image from Wikipedia

Almost one hundred years ago, across the ocean, soldiers in the French trenches were in need of a morale booster.  So, Salvation Army workers began to serve them coffee and donuts.  (That illustrates a level of bravery that is not normally demonstrated for those passing out pastries!)  Now the workers were not there with that purpose.  Their goal instead was to provide spiritual guidance and a connection with the memories of home.  The donut was a visible symbol to them that someday peace would exist again, and home was not quite as far away as it had been before.

Not until the Great Depression did “National Donut Day” illustrate the page of a calendar.  At this point, the Salvation Army wanted everyone to know about the great work that they were doing in providing service to the community.  In 1937, the world was on the brink of another war.  Our country needed to recognize the importance of working together for a cause.  What a better way to remind everyone of the value of service than by celebrating with donuts?  A visual representation of how many had selflessly taken care of others on battle fields far away just twenty years prior.

This “Donut Day” has continued to be an important holiday  A way to remember all that the Salvation Army has continued to do, for the past three-quarters of a century, to make a difference in other people’s lives.  In fact, I learned all of this information from The Metropolitan Division of the Chicage Salvation Army.  On their website, they have many additional fun and fascinating facts about the history of Donut Day.  This one was very interesting to me.

National Donut Day commemorates the “donut lassies,” female Salvation Army volunteers who provided writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending and home-cooked meals, and of course, donuts, for soldiers on the front lines.

Here is a short video that you can also watch to learn more.

Now that you know that “National Donut Day” came about due to historical events, you have all the more reason to celebrate.  Many of the bigger national chains are giving away free donuts.  I know that our local grocery stores are giving free donuts to so many customers and then giving out discounted ones as well.  A yummy holiday and a great day to remember those who serve!

P.S. On a more serious  note, today is the anniversary of the D-Day Invasion.  A cause that involved many Americans, including Nebraskans.  I do not believe you can say this word enough to veterans: Thank you!

P.P.S. One our other favorite doughnut places, The Doughnut Hole is having specials and a drawing for free doughnuts tomorrow.  They are also revealing a brand new flavor!  You will want to arrive EARLY – they will sell out!

 

Categories: Cornhusker Cuisine, Eating Establishments, Flashback Fridays, Nebraska History | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Flashback: The Celebration: University Place City Hall to Lux Center for the Arts in Lincoln

A birthday party for a building?  Perhaps this is not commonplace.  Yet as you learn the story behind the grand place, you might just understand why.

Once upon a time, the town was Athens.  Yes, we had an Athens in Nebraska before 1889.  Then that post office became University Place in honor of Nebraska Wesleyean University which had been founded the year before.  Fifteen years later (in 1914), they decided this primarily Methodist town needed a new town hall building.

Lux Center City Hall Stone

For 12 years, this place was the central hub, guiding the proud citizens of University Place, Nebraska, in matters of civic responsibility. According to the building’s current occupants,

The two-story building housed the fire and police departments as well as all city offices with an auditorium, council chambers and fire department day room.

DSCN8682

The town grew and became a bustling place of 5,000 people.  Nearby Lincoln took notice and annexed them in 1926.

What to do with a building that was the city hub for a town that no longer exists?  Well, the building has served various purposes including a fire station and a restaurant.  Until in 1985, when it was purchased by Gladys Lux.

Now this lady has quite the history of her own in the community.  For forty years, Lux had brought her appreciation and abilities in the arts to Nebraska Wesleyean and the University Place area.  She must have been a fascinating woman – I enjoyed reading her story on the Lux website.  Her vision was to bring a community arts building to this section of town that she loved so well.

So University Place Art Center began in 1977, and then moved to its current location in 1988.  The old city hall was again servicing community citizens for the greater good.  Eventually the center took on the new name, Lux Center for the Arts, in honor of the woman with a vision.  Gladys Lux was the one who noted that “there is an artist in everyone.”

So to celebrate this place of community that existed in University Place, before the city of Lincoln itself was even part of the equation, is fitting.

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Image Taken Directly from the Lux website

Lux Center for the Arts is having a big birthday celebration THIS Sunday June 1st from 1:00 to 4:00.  Yes, cake and ice cream is most definitely involved.  This will be a part of their annual summer Community Arts Celebration.  You will not want to miss this event.  Especially the opportunity to become your own part of the University Place City Hall history.

P.S. A little later on today, I plan on giving you a sneak peak into one of their current exhibits whose theme relates to this website!

 

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Flashback: Displaying Nebraskans in World War Two: Exhibit Closing Soon at the Nebraska History Museum

Writing about Nebraska’s part in World War 2 has been a part of upcoming blog post plans.  But I had to accelerate the timing due to the fact that I found out the Nebraska History Museum is closing this formerly permanent exhibit.

photo of World War II living room exhibit

Photo taken directly from Nebraska History site

Now they have their reasons, and they are pretty good ones.  Due to increased funding, they are doing some restructuring. Here is the official announcement that I received in an e-mail from the Nebraska State Historical Society.  (No, I did not receive special notice – I am simply a part of their e-mail list! 🙂

“What Did You Do in the War? Nebraska in World War II” will close to the public on Sunday, March 2, 2014. Artifacts in the Nebraska History Museum exhibit in Lincoln will be stored away and exhibit components disassembled as the museum prepares for a major infrastructure renovation funded by the Nebraska Legislature. The museum at 131 Centennial Mall North ( 15th & P Streets) in Lincoln is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 1:00-4:30 p.m.  Closed state holidays. Admission is free.

 A variety of resources about Nebraska in World War II is available on the Nebraska State Historical Society website, including articles from Nebraska History Magazine, veterans’ stories, photographs, a newspaper aimed at 4th-graders, a teacher’s guide, and more. Visit www.nebraskahistory.org and type World War II into the search box.  

 For more information call 402-471-4782 or visit www.nebraskahistory.org

We actually used many of the Nebraska State Historical Society’s resources to have our own “Living out World War 2 in Nebraska” day last spring.  In an upcoming post, I will share what our family did to learn more about those who lived here during the mid-century war.  For now, I simply wanted to encourage you to check out this great World War 2 exhibit.  This area has been a favorite one for my kids to explore every time we visit.   Hopefully we will make it back one last time before the display is gone.

Categories: Family Outings, Flashback Fridays, Lincoln, Metro, Military and Memorials, Nebraska History, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Flashback: The Blizzards of ’49 in Nebraska

If you live in the Midwest, did you survive the blizzard this week?  Actually while we were out Tuesday morning/afternoon, by the time that the road conditions were blustery and dangerous later on in the day, we were snuggled in safe at home .  Our limited amount of snow was nothing compared to the foot of snow our cousins in Kansas received.  Snow certainly can beautiful – seeing snowflakes fluttering down on our way home tonight was lovely.  But I am pretty certain that the Midwesterners who lived through the winter of 1948 to 1949 did not feel that way about snow.  Evidently if you lived through season, you had something to be proud about!  Snowstorm after snowstorm pounded the area.

According to articles found at Nebraskahistory.org, the snow started in December and really was never fully cleared until April.  Not that the snow fell perpetually during that time span, but the snow came often and came in many inches at a time.  The snow would freeze and become impossible to clear. At one point, even dynamite was used to try to clear roads.  The hardest part: people were stuck without food and supplies.  Rough on people, rough on livestock.  Airlifts began to try to help those stranded survive.

File:Airplane making a mail delivery - NARA - 285334.jpg

This is a picture from Wikimedia Commons of one of the planes used to help the Midwest during that very long winter!

Getting supplies was definitely a challenge.  They would try to get  supplies to different towns via railcarts even.  And I have a feeling that sleighs were suddenly popular again – that is if parts of the ground were frozen enough for horses to safely travel across.  Knowing what to do with all of the snow also created difficulties.   At one point, people began to run out of room to even put the snow if they attempted to clear sidewalks.  So, they just walked over drifts -that became their “new” normal.  A total of 90″ fell that winter, resulting in some drifts being as high as 25-30 FEET!
Once you completed this winter, you could definitely call yourself a survivor!

My parents were both born in ’48.  Obviously as infants, they do not personally recall the experience.  My Dad does not remember his parents mentioning that time at all.  He does recall getting more snow up in Northeast Nebraska, but they lived in town, so they would simply just stay home and wait to be plowed out. Having been snowed in once without electricity on my grandparents farm I can verify that being stuck on a farm is definitely different than getting snow in the city where you are plowed out within a day or two.

My Mom’s family did have a different experience that winter.  As central Nebraska farmers, this storm affected their livelihood.  They had livestock to take care of, so staying inside did not happen, especially for my Grandpa.  But, my Mom remembers that my Grandma mentioned that they did not go beyond their farm for months.  That had to have been challenging with a newborn!  (My Mom said their family album has pages chronicling the event – at some point, maybe I will have to have a “Friday Photography” post on this.)

Evidently the January storm affected my Grandpa’s cousin’s family even more directly.  Cousin Rae gave birth to a healthy boy, but then was stuck in the town hospital for an extra week or two since no one could come and get her.  Having another child at home and a farm to help with, she begged her husband to come and get her.  They stocked up on groceries and started on the trek home.  They almost made it before getting stuck.  Thankfully, they were stopped by my Grandpa’s farm – he towed them with a tractor across the fields to their house.  I am sure the sight of home had never filled them with more gratitude.

If you would like to read more personal reactions to the Blizzard of ’49, here are several excellent links.  Snowbound is a 59 page article complete with pictures and narratives chronicling those who lived through this white time!  You can also read a shorter  version of the article to get some of the details if you have less time.

Enjoy watching history instead?  On a recent, “Nebraska Stories” episode, they had a segment on the blizzard of ’49.  A few people give first hand accounts of living through the experience.  You can watch the segment by going to this site.  “Nebraska Stories” always does a great job of introducing Nebraska people and history!  They actually have a brand new episode coming out on Sunday – I will be previewing the show tomorrow on the blog!  Stay warm!

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Frontier Trails, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History, Panhandle, Pioneer Country, Prairie Lakes, Region or City, Sandhills | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Friday Photography: Inside Back to the Bible

As I mentioned yesterday, my association with Back to the Bible has been happening for a long time.  Growing up, we often listened to their radio broadcasts.  As I mentioned yesterday, my Mom worked there for a few years, and my Dad has been involved with the board for a long time.   Back when I was a classroom teacher, “Back to the Bible” was one of our field trips.

Usually my Friday photography posts have involved landscapes.  But since Back to the Bible really does not give very many public tours, I thought I would give you a peak inside this longtime Lincoln organization.

Back 2 Bible Lobby Area

A dimensional globe and Bible statue greets you near the entrance.  The large meeting room contains a welcoming seating area as well as the potential to hold many, many tables and chairs.

Back 2 Bible History

The above sign explains a bit of the history.  Originally, the organization was formed as a radio broadcast.  One of the things that I appreciated about Back to the Bible is that they do not remain stagnant.  While radio is still one aspect, they have expanded to include other parts, such as Go Tandem, which is an app that helps you to interact with the Bible in an electronic way.

B2Bible Center for Bible Engagement

An additional aspect that they have expanded to include is the Center for Bible Engagement.  Their ultimate goal is to encourage others to read the Bible for themselves.  So, they have studied what repels and draws people to the Bible.

Back 2 Bible Reminders

Their organization is multi-tiered with displays visualizing all of those who help to make Back to the Bible, including the opportunity for “you” to be a viable part.

Back 2 Bible Partnership

I have taken my kids there for tours now.  Their favorite parts: seeing the giant globe and the see through fish tank.  I enjoy reading all of the history, but I cannot say that I have ever managed to read through all of their displays.  Something to do with interruptions? 🙂

Back 2 Bible globe & fish

When the time gets closer to their 75th anniversary late spring, I will tell you more about the history of how Back to the Bible has made an impact in Lincoln, in Nebraska and even around the world.

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Friday Photography | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Friday Flashback: Nebraska Man of Science: “Doc” Harold Edgerton

Strobe Light Photography Perfecter

Jacques Cousteau Collaborator

Noted MIT faculty member

Creative Lecturer (Favorite Professor)

Contributions to Marine Archeology results in discovery of Civil War Monitor

These are just a few of the descriptions that fit “Doc” Harold Edgerton.  This distinguished scientist grew up in Aurora, Nebraska.  While eventually he would relocate to Massachusetts, he did not forget his hometown and continued to visit.  This excerpt from the website that MIT Edgerton site gives you a bit of a glimpse of who Doc Edgerton  was.

With his ever-present sense of humor Doc recounted, at a graduation address to Aurora NE High School students in 1987, that “Upon graduation at Nebraska I applied to MIT for graduate study. During the summer, I asked an Aurora student who had been to Harvard if he knew anything about MIT. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘MIT only takes smart students.’ From then on, I have disregarded the opinions of Harvard students.”

I first heard of Doc Edgerton  several years after his death when the Edgerton Explorit Center opened in Aurora, Nebraska.  I was looking for a place to have an annual spring field trip with my 5th graders.  Once we visited, and I saw all of his photographs, I became a big fan of his work.  Walking through the Strobe gallery is a necessary part any time we visit the Aurora Museum.

Because I obviously do not own the rights to any photographs, I feel I should limit posting them.  But I am including my favorite photo just to give you a glimpse of Edgerton’s work.  Did you know that right before a football is kicked, an indention is visible?  “Wes Fesler Kicking a Football” from 1934 illustrates this in vivid detail.  You can find the below image at A Gallery for Fine Photography.  You may just want to order one of his photographs from the gallery for your art collection!

Here is another site where you can see his photographs for yourself.  You will be amazed and astounded at the photographs that resulted because of his work with strobe light photography.  Perhaps you have even seen his pictures before and simply not recognized that Edgerton was the one behind the images.

Although probably most of us never met “Doc” Edgerton, we can still watch him in action.  Here are a few great clips that are worth watching!

To learn even more about this inventive Nebraska native and his lifetime of science contributions, please visit the following sites:

Edgerton Digital Collection (from MIT)

Guide to Edgerton’s Research Collections (Found on File at MIT)

Edgerton’s Biography as Relevant to Photographers

See the science discoveries that are still taking place at the Edgerton Center in Massachusetts.

After learning more, possibly you will want to purchase a copy of his book: Stopping Time.  I know the title is definitely on my book wishlist now!

Image taken from Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Nebraska History, Pioneer Country, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: Learning About Cowboys in Early Nebraska at the Nebraska History Museum

To my regret, we ended up almost sprinting through the exhibit.  At least it felt like there was A LOT more to absorb than we had time.  But as I mentioned earlier, I thought that the exhibit was only to happen for a few more days.  Since we discovered we have another year to peruse, we will definitely be back!  Especially when we actually study cowboys in the next few months.  I think I learned enough and took at least adequate pictures to give you a glimpse into “Nebraska Cowboys: Lives, Legacies and Legends.”

In our haste to get into the main area, we walked right past the opening display.  But this is definitely the place to start!

Cowboy Exhibit Lift-the-Flaps

They had an area where you could test your knowledge on cowboy terms and symbols before you look at the display.  One of the words: buckaroo.  Do you know how this word came to be a cowboy term?  I will give you a hint – the butchering of another language was the cause.

They have many displays of items with explanation.  This is great when you have younger kids because they may not be quite patient enough to stand there and let you read all you want.  (Not that I know this from personal experience 🙂 ).  For instance, a replication of an old-time bunkhouse was fabricated.  This does give even the young ones a glimpse into cowboy life.

Cowboy Exhibit bunkhouse room

At every section, layers of possible learning exist.  You can see the campfire and pictures of what they might have cooked.

Cowboy Exhibit Campfire

You can see a picture of actual cowboys eating on the range.

Cowboy Exhibit Chuckwagon2

And you can read more about what is pictured: the infamous chuckwagon.

Cowboy Exhibit Chuckwagon Explanation2

Having cowboy guns on display is a “hit” with the boys (couldn’t resist! 🙂 )  And the girls will like seeing all of the pretty horse pictures.

Cowboy Exhibit Guns 2

Since this whole display is based on cowboy life in the “Good Life” state, you can learn about specific people who lived the history.  This book is by James Cook (no, not the Australia explorer).  But he did live on the range and journal about his experiences.

Cowboy Exhibit antique book2

For those who are visually oriented, you can map out the paths of the various cattle drives.  Including the famous Chisholm Trail.

Cowboy Exhibit maps

You can also learn about the impact that the windmill had on ranches, especially in Western Nebraska.

Cowboy Exhibit windmill2

My goal this time is definitely to inspire you to go see and learn about Nebraska cowboys for yourselves.  But if you cannot wait or are too far away, here are two links where you can begin your “Nebraska cowboy” education.  First, you can read an excerpt from the Nebraska History Fall 2013 issue.  This is from an article by James E. Potter entitled “A Peculiar Set of Men”: Nebraska Cowboys of the Open Range.”  I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Potter earlier in the fall – he is SO knowledgeable about Nebraska history.  You can purchase the magazine, which has several cowboy articles, at the museum or order it to be delivered to your home.

Second, if you do have kids, a link is available to the Nebraska Trailblazer magazine.  Issue number eight has to do with ranching in Nebraska.  How I wish we would  have discovered this before we went to the exhibit the first time.  We will definitely be completing this before we go next time – my kids will really enjoy all of the pictures and learning how to read “cattle brands.”  Definitely worth taking the time to download!

Cowboy Exhibit boot hat Well, good night, pardner!

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: Officer’s Quarters at Fort Robinson in Northwest Nebraska

While much is known about the history of Fort Robinson, not as much is documented on the particular families that stayed there.  Especially in the Officer’s Quarters.  At least I should say the information is not readily available.  Maybe that is a research project for another time … But I will share what I know and hopefully give you a glimpse of the military housing for families from long ago.

Fort Robinson Officer's Row

This was before.  The initial place where officers and families lived for the first few decades the fort was open.

Fort Robinson Officer's Quarters Side View

This is after.  I am sure that if any families actually were there when the transition was made they had to had definitely felt like they were “moving on up” but to the west side, as these house were located at the end of the western edge of the parade ground.  These new houses were known as the “officer’s bricks” and were actually large duplex.  More than ample space to house a family.

The one we stayed in had a sunny kitchen, a dining room that easily seated 10-12 people, a living room and library area (which is currently a bedroom) and a bathroom.  The second floor had four bedrooms and two bathrooms.   The third floor had two more bedrooms and and an additional two bedroom and one bathroom.  We think that was probably where the help stayed.  You could not have easily ran this household without servants or hired help!

Fort Robinson Soldier Staircase

The home also had two sets of staircases.  Beautiful white woodwork is found throughout the home.  While there has perhaps been a bit of restoration, for the most part the house is just as it was a century ago.  I must say that I loved the historic element.

My only partial disappointment … that I did not take more interior pictures.  My photos are rather random – I think because we “lived” there.  So many of my shots include people which are definitely the ones I want to keep in the long run anyway.  But here are a few glimpses of the decor …

Fort Robinson officer rooms

Fireplaces graced every room – more for function than for beauty.  I would imagine winter is a bit chilly in Northwest Nebraska.  The decor featured borders with a Western motif.  Soldiers photographs and stories were on the walls and mantels, adding authenticity to the history.

I imagined a story behind every corner.  Wondered what it would have been like to raise children on the wild frontier.  Pondered about missing comforts from home.  Thought about just how many people filled the walls.  Concluded that probably many a mom has called out “Please stop running through the halls and up & down the stairs” just like I did.  Recognized that the rooms had housed many a family with many a tale.  While I wish I had more concrete details, I do think that part of the beauty of the place is all that is left untold.

Fort Robinson group picture

Our own stories were written during the meaningful days spent at Fort Robinson!

P.S. Congratulations to my Dad for guessing correctly where we were from my “Wordless Wednesday” post this week.  Since he and my mom graciously took care of our housing for the week, it seems fitting that he would recognize my pictures.  Thanks to both of them for investing in family memories!

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Nebraska History, Panhandle, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: Former Secretary of State Kennard and his house

I love the story about how Lincoln came to be the capital city.  (Maybe I would not appreciate it so much if I had been in Omaha at the time).  They literally started the city from scratch – transforming the tiny settlement of Lancaster into what would be a city.  The part I really like – the folklore behind the move.  The rumor that several men traveled through a blizzard to collect (steal?) the state’s papers and archives from Omaha since that town was rather reluctant (temper tantrum status?) and unwilling to give up their hold on being the state’s capital.

One of the men leading the charge for Lincoln – our state’s first secretary of state. Thomas P. Kennard was lawyer and businessman and a member of the capitol locating commission  To show support and solidarity for this move, several politicians decided to build rather large homes in the newly formed town of Lincoln.   Governor David Butler’s house was on the outskirts of town.  Kennard and State Auditor John Gillespie became neighbors and had their homes built closer to the capitol.  Since they felt their move to Lincoln was urgent in timing, they actually lived in the capitol building for a time. (Read to learn more about early Lincoln days!)

Kennard Historic Lincoln

Picture taken at the Kennard House (their early Lincoln display).

This summer I decided to take my kids to visit this piece of Lincoln’s history.  I had not been there since I was 4th grader – quite a few years ago. 🙂  I enjoyed getting to go back.

Kennard House single

The house I remembered was yellow.  Mr. Tom Buecker, the Nebraska State Historical expert who gave us a tour told us that they changed the paint color several years ago.  Through the process of remodeling they found flaked paint chips that showed that the original exterior color was actually this slate gray.  So, they changed it back.

Kennard exterior

The house used to be larger – you can still see the footing in the backyard.  That 1 1/2 story section had gradually deteriorated, and the Kennards had decided that extra space was not as crucial for them later on.  They decided to remove that section.

The house has been updated and remodeled to reflect what the house might have looked like at the end of the 1800’s.  No interior pictures of the home were available.  So period restoration happened rather than specific restoration to how the home looked when the Kennards were occupants.  But you still get an idea of what might have been.

Kennard House first floor

Four rooms are restored on the main floor.  Great for my kids to see what life would have been like without electricity or other modern conveniences.  And now they know the distinctions between the front formal parlor (the pre-mortuary resting place) and the living room.  Mr. Buecker was so knowledgeable about the history of the house and Kennard – he made our tour so enjoyable!

Kennard House 2nd floor

Upstairs they have two bedrooms restored – a children’s bedroom complete with some toys and an adult formal bedroom.  They also have a room devoted to pictures and information about early Nebraska.  Seeing the Kennard House brings the beginnings of Lincoln to life.

Tours are available of the Kennard House by appointment.  The Kennard House will also be open this Sunday December 8th in the afternoon.  The home will be decorated for Christmas.  You can experience the early days of Nebraska’s capital city for yourself!

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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