Clusters of car dealers and garages downtown or near downtown were once a major part of life in many U.S. cities. That certainly was the case in Omaha, where the “Auto Row” on Farnam Street between 20th and 26th Streets was long bustling with car-related businesses, going back to the World War I era. Studebakers, Hudsons, Fords, Dodges and many more makes all were found along that busy stretch.
The National Register of Historic Places — the federal government’s inventory of structures formally designated for historical significance — has noted the importance of Omaha’s Auto Row by including, since 2014, the Hupmobile Building, at 2523 Farnam St.
Hupmobile was an early U.S. car manufacturer, and its dealership in Omaha opened in 1913. The last Hupmobile rolled off the assembly line in 1940. Developers have converted the Hupmobile Building to offices and retail space.
History Nebraska recently announced that the National Park Service has added six Nebraska locations to the National Register, with sites from around the state. Two of the six are from Omaha’s Auto Row and are described as major contributors to Auto Row’s vitality in the first half of the 20th century: the Drummond Motor Co. at the corner of 26th and Farnam Streets and the Firestone Tire and Rubber Building at 2570 Farnam.
The National Register commendably includes structures from communities of all sizes and from rural unincorporated areas. The other four locations just added to the National Register illustrate this:
» The Grand Island VA Hospital complex. The main building is architecturally significant and contributed in major ways to “post-World War II health care,” with nine smaller buildings also of significance. In all, 14 buildings are on the 26-acre site, with construction going back to 1887.
» The O’Neill Carnegie Library. The building, funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, dates from 1914 and was expanded in 1994. The “Carnegie library portion retains its original layout with open reading spaces, hardwood banisters, wainscoting and interior doors, well as its historic wooden windows,” History Nebraska noted.
» The Bartley Sales Barn. Livestock sales have long been a central part of life in Nebraska. This octagonal barn dates from 1919 in Bartley, a village in Red Willow County.
» The County Line Bridge in Cherry County. The bridge spans the Niobrara River 17.5 miles east of Valentine, near Cherry County’s border with Keya Paha and Brown Counties. This truss bridge was built in 1916 after spring floods destroyed 15 bridges along the river. “The bridge is significant at the local level for its contribution to engineering as a well-preserved example of a once common bridge type,” History Nebraska noted.
The National Park Service also has amended the listing for the Fairacres Historic District in Omaha to include a home at 6247 Underwood Ave. The home contributes to the significance of the 40-acre historic district, which has been on the register since 2017. The district is listed for its collection of various styles of the late 19th- and early 20th-century Revival architecture.
The additions help Nebraskans appreciate our abiding connections to past people and institutions that have shaped our communities.