Having just returned from deep in the musty archives of the W. Dale Clark Library, I am pleased to report that an obsessive, time-consuming search of our dear 1101 S 60th Street building really paid off. (Please see Mysteries of Omaha: Arms & Ammo if you are not up to speed on our current, local mystery.) I met many odd and engaging new friends at the library. It seemed that many street wanders were on a great quest but who knows if the library will give them the answers they need. I can say, the downtown librarians are so patient and kind. Really, they could be considered social workers for the service they provide our town. I had my own fervent motives today, so I had to push pass the astronauts and other great men to get to the work at hand–our mystery.
As one Omaha friend who commented earlier alluded to, 1101 S 60th Street came into being in the early 20’s. I found that it was listed as J.P. Skryja Grocer by 1925, presumably for James Skryja. By 1926 James and Anna’s business had been named Elmwood Grocery. I could not find any advertisements for the little store, which is fitting of a modest, neighborhood store. But search I did as I LOVE old print ads. It functioned under the name of the Elmwood Grocery throughout the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. In the mid 1950’s Elmwood Grocery then was listed under Mrs. Anna Skryja’s name. I am assuming James had died in those years. Another Omaha friend had commented that she remembered Anna running the store/living in the store and her son worked there as well. 1957, sadly, is the last date that I could find under Anna’s name/Elmwood Grocery.
Omaha World Herald ad early 1970’s
1958 marked the year that the gun shop arrived. At that time, S. D. Jensen opened Custom Gun Shop. By 1964 the owner’s first name was revealed as Spencer D. Jensen, still operating under the business name Custom Gun Shop. (402-553-5951, for those who like to call weird, old numbers like me.) 1968 brought a name change of Arms & Ammo. The owner’s name wasn’t listed. Previously I had found that Arms & Ammo was owned by Jim Sutton but I did not find his name or any other in today’s search. It would appear that Arms & Ammo closed sometime in 1989. By 1990, 1101 S 60th Street was vacant. I could find no business listings for this building through the nineties; listings continued to say “vacant.” April 1997 marks the sale date and entrance of current property owner living in Plattsmouth. So this tells us that our building hadn’t been moonlighting as a bar in the 70’s which one Facebook friend had remembered. Personally this explains why I didn’t remember the Arms & Ammo closing, because I wasn’t living in Omaha in 1989.
Other commenters had thought that there might have been an violent incident that caused the gun shop to be closed. I would love to know more about this if anyone has any intel or deep secrets they want to share. Another commenter thought that 1101 S 60th Street might have been a vintage clothing briefly after 1997. I have a feeling that might not be the case…but I want it to be true! It would seem that the current owner is using this as storage so unless he had some people renting it out as a shop in the late nineties, it has probably sat there all this time. Does anyone else remember this clothing shop? I am just guessing, because of the bars on the front and cloaks of secrecy, that 1101 S 60th Street is filled with vintage Chanel, daguerreotype cameras, old, glorious perfumes, cigars and gold bricks. I will say there was an incident in the library archives that skedaddled me out of there without resolving the post 1997 research so there might still be work to be done.
Please feel free to comment if you want to chime in with memories or a piece of the puzzle. Thank you for all for your comments, Omaha friends.
Love the mystery!
I lived a few houses away from this building back in 1998 through 2004 and there was no business operating here. Always closed, just as it looks today.
Love Our Lady of Leavenworth the most!!
There was a news story on it a few times. The owner when it was a gun store was shot and killed by someone robbing it. A few years later another news story was done interviewing his father. After his son was killed, the father kept the store exactly as his son had left it. It stayed closed for years and years after. Very sad and touching story.
Karen, thank you for adding this important piece of the puzzle. Ithers have reached out in private to tell me about this tragedy. I have yet to explore this in the archives. I do thank you!
I lived at 55th and Pine from 1996-1998 and almost all of my activities took me west out Pacific St. At no time have I ever seen any form of activity at this building, not only during my years of daily “drive-bys” but in the preceding years of frequent forays past this corner. My children and I have often wondered just what the heck was going on with the place–someone must be paying taxes on it.
Thank you for your comment. Someday we might figure this out!
hey, thanks for scratching this brain itch i’ve had for a few years. hopefully you’ll find out more. i’ve been tempted to gain access a few times to satisfy my curiosity. doesn’t appear to be an alarm on the place…
I’m still on the case! Have received more mysterious intel. Need to look into these leads. Let us hear back if you find anything too. I think the Fremont store took the name after Jim Sutton’s 60th location closed. Maybe his son’s?
also, there was an arms & ammo in fremont awhile back. probably same owners.
I have driven by this quite often since 1987 and remember the gun shop. It hasn’t been open since. There is a vintage clothing shop on Leavenworth nearby.
My great-grandparents, James and Anna Skryja owned this store and also lived there.
Hello! Oh I’m so glad to hear from you. If I may ask, does anyone in your family have any photos of the grocery store or of your great-grandparents that you’d be willing to share? Thanks for commenting!
After being discharged from the USMC @ age 20 I moved to Omaha in early 1970 from a small farming community in N.E. Nebraska. Lived in Omaha for 12 years, frequented Arms & Ammo quite often. Knew Jim Sutton pretty well, purchased a few firearms from him. He was open on Wed. evenings….7 or 8 of “the regulars” gathered there those evenings just to look, see what new merchandise had arrived and just generally B.S. This, of course upset Mr. Sutton because none of us ever actually BOUGHT anything on Wed. nights and he accused us of running off “decent” customers. Down deep I think he appreciated the camaraderie….we WERE his “decent” (and loyal) customers! He was a heckuva gunsmith, too and when he would close up for the night we all went down to Petrow’s @ 60th & Center for coffee. Good old days, great memories.
Ahhhh! This is fabulous. Thank you so much for sharing an insider’s view. Petrow’s was great, wasn’t it? Thanks for writing.
I drove by the place the other day. I wondered how it could still be standing all these years after being closed. I too grew up in Benson and went there every so often with my dad back in the 1970s.
It’s kind of spooky looking. A ghostly monument of years gone by.