The Goodrich Building (1415 Farnam) on the far left was built in 1868. Initially this was the C. S. Goodrich and Co. But by 1916 the first floor appears to be The Farnam Show House. 10 cent show with pipe organ.
(Photo Above: The year is 1916. 14th and Farnam Street, just west of the Paxton, south of the current W. Dale Clark Public Library. It is believed that these three structures are some of the oldest in Omaha. Photo courtesy of the Bostwick & Frohardt Collection at the Durham Museum Photo Archive.)
There are show posters all around the entrance. On the second floor is the King Joy Cafe. This was a Chinese restaurant (following in the Chop Suey trend) chain out of Chicago. This posh little eatery was known for having spent “thousands of dollars to furnish and decorate in its Oriental dress.” On the top of the building is great sign for Storz Brewing Co. There is also a hanging anchor that reads “Chop Suey” and “Farnam.” From the Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission website I found a discrepancy in the year it was built. They show “1415 Farnam Street was built in 1900. Architect: Unknown. Builder: Unknown. Style: Neo-Classical Revival. Designated Omaha Landmark: 9/28/1982. The Goodrich Building is one of the few small scale nineteenth century commercial structures left in the Central Business District that displays the classical influence of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and Omaha’s 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.” By the 1930’s the King Joy Cafe had closed and another Omaha favorite, Harkert House, had moved their main office and one of their infamous locations to 1415. My father loved Harkert House. He still talks about it. Miss Cassette plans to do a whole article on Harkert House in the future.
The Pease Bro’s Co (1417 Farnam). Advertising “good clothes” and “furnishings”. The Pease Brothers were famous local hatters and men’s furnishers. They started the business in 1885. The second floor is Mutual Film Co. selling “moving picture machines and supplies”. On the top floor is the Musicians Headquarters. In a detail of Musicians Headquarters floor, wooden chairs in a large loft room are seen through the windows, as if a bunch of musicians had just gotten up from a session. I dream.
The Drexel Shoe Company (1419 Farnam) must have been a big, successful business. The date on the top of the building says 1881. This business stayed in this location until the late 40’s-early 50’s.
The details. Classic local Storz Brewing Co. sign with a fantastic lit up anchor. It looks like a crow with a top hat in the window. Maybe I’m imagining things.
One of the best articles I’ve ever read from the Morning World Herald, Sept 19, 1913. It described the opening night of the King Joy Cafe where an orchestra played to a full house of dinner reservations. “The orchestra leader paused for about a fifth of a second with is violin bow poised mid air. The diners at the tables, as well as the servers, heard the sound and for perhaps the same fifth of a second even mastication waited upon curiosity.” Apparently the King Joy Cafe management had secured permission to fire off many firecrackers from their front balcony. They caught fire and set off other fireworks, leading to the whole restaurant, staff and patrons alike, out onto Farnam Street. The fire department came with ladders. As it was a little fire, they cleared the smoke out (ha!) and soon business resumed. All of the commotion attracted “thousands of curiosity seekers” and Farnam Street from 14th to 15th Streets was blockaded to traffic. There were “a dozen bluecoats to clear the street railway tracks.”
I just love these Pease Brothers Company ads. The fonts to die for.
LOVE this one. This was a pervious location before the Farnam Street store.
A detail of the Mutual Film Corp windows. Faint and dreamlike. I try to imagine the days when people would walk around downtown Omaha and actually look up at the hand painted signs on the windows.
I had to include this detail of the Drexel Shoe Company windows–the shoe boxes in the windows. Why do I love that?
Photo courtesy of the Bostwick & Forhardt collection at the Durham Museum Photo Archive. August of 1940. Looking west on Farnam Street.
If you look closely you can see the checkered shingles of the Harkert House now at 1415. Dave’s Clothes Shop is in 1417. A new facade covers the once intricate Pease Bros. Co. building. The Drexel Shoe Company was still holding tight at 1419. The fantastic Metropolitan-Brandeis Drug Store is now seen on the corner in 1421 and 1423. If you gaze further to the west you will see that Beaton Drug Company and Beaton Realty Company now occupy 1501 in the Barker Building. Directly across from Dave’s Clothes would have been the essential, Nebraska Clothing Company.
Addendum: For those who want even more, like me. The businesses listed directly west of Beaton Drug in 1940 were:
1503 Bucks Booterie (Check out my friend’s photo of the entrance still in existence at https://www.flickr.com/photos/brandedbetterdotcom/26523000025/)
1504 Rogers Lunch
1506 Nunn-Bush Shoe Store
1507 Nebraska Luggage Shop
1508 Wormser Hat Stores Inc.
1509 The Wardrobe Inc.
1510 John R. Thompson Co. (restaurant)
1511 Henshaw Hotel and Henshaw Bar
1512 Harry Mason (clothing)
1513 Henshaw Cafeteria
1514 Richman Brothers Company (clothing)
1515 Famous Lunch
This is a detail of the Beaton Drug Company in the Barker Building (1501 Farnam St). Notice the drugstore diner above where the windows announce “It’s cool inside.” Polar bears are painted on the windows, crouching by diner patrons having their lunch— signifying to all passersby that it was nice and chilly in there. Probably something very special on an August day in downtown Omaha. Check out the windows they rehabbed on this very corner at the new Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe next time you’re in the area.
2008. The door on the left was 1411. The one on the right was 1415. This was previous to the Kitchen Table moving in. I love the glass above the doors and the ornate woodwork. I discovered that Alice’s Good Food was in this location in 1968. In the 70’s, Life Uniforms was housed here. Capitol Optical occupied 1415 in the 80’s–along side the Omaha Magic Theater which was in 1417. (I will definitely be writing more about the Magic Theater in the future.) The 80’s also brought the infamous Olympic Lounge, Olympic Lounge Restaurant and the Olympic Club Fifteen Go Go Club to 1419 and 1421.
2016. 1411 is now apartments. The left doorway leads to apartments above. These have to be fantastic. 1415 is the tasty Kitchen Table restaurant. If you haven’t been yet, check it out at http://kitchentableomaha.com/. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches and Jazz A Louisiana Kitchen are next door. This little block is doing very well.
2016. Paxton Hotel-Manor, now just called The Paxton on the left. The Goodrich Building, Pease Building and the Drexel Shoe Company as they look today. Did anyone else notice when they were ripping off the old facade to make Jimmy John’s there was this pretty cool Asian design revealed under one of the windows on this Drexel building, which I love. Red and black. It’s still there. This article now has a follow up story. Please check out The Goodrich, Pease and Drexel Buildings Part Two: The Look Book.
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