I had written Rose Lodge on a manila file folder over a year ago, an early target investigation that I had hoped to explore in my first months at this sleuthing business. Eventually the folder was buried like so many of my dead of night epiphanies piled up around this study. We don’t really have a wood paneled study that I can haunt about in but if we did, I know exactly how it would look and feel and smell. It would most surely involve hiring a distinguished man of taste, a spirited centenarian specter to come in and set things up to his liking, arranging leather bound volumes, adjusting brass picture lights on equestrian paintings and turning a weathered, leather globe just so and resting in a crackly chair in old grey suede Hush Puppies, most likely prompting the smoking of a pipe. A guild of Golden Retrievers would also be employed to lay about the gloriously large Persian rug as to subsume all of their good-scented-ness and profuse shedding. Actually the group of Retrievers could stay on as family members, no longer employed, but most likely the older gentleman presence might have to go after a time because his good-natured, shadow of a wife would surely miss him and I abhor shuffling about in the middle of the night and gargling early in the morning. Well… you clearly can see how I would fancy my dark wood paneled study and how that might have been the perfect place to pleasurably toil away on my latest mystery. Back to the matter at hand: Rose Lodge.
My Dear Watsons, Rose Lodge has been permanently moored in my memory since childhood. I know I am not the only one with those keen thoughts. Yes, this was one of the very first moments when I realized that fried chicken was a true delicacy, quite different from any home cooked serving before. And yes, we all recall that I nattered on and on about Bishop’s Buffet fried chicken heretofore For the Love of Bishop’s Buffet: Why, Oh Why, Did They Close? but Rose’s Was Different. In the words of Father of Miss Cassette, “The secret was in the flaky crust. They were known for their ‘secret recipe.’” If by chance you don’t recall, there was always an air of intrigue within the community regarding Rose Lodge’s secret recipe. This Omaha institution was a True Cassette Family Favorite, even from my grandmother’s time. As each savory piece of evidence presented itself along this investigation, I soon could not deny that my family favorite had a Very Colorful Past, unbeknownst to me. As it turns out, the beloved family fried chicken enterprise wasn’t always so family friendly. And this only brought up more questions. I knew we had a mystery to solve.
A word of warning, however, must be issued to all New Wise Readers. Any Regular will tell you. I like to play around on side streets and get lost on each trail. I am not a very tidy narrator. As you by now have picked up, there will be an almost insurmountable pile of irrelevant personal details. Even Mother of Miss Cassette only reads my every twentieth word. (It is true. She was taught to speed-read and she really cannot kick this dreadful habit.) If you cannot bear my wanderings, you can always skip ahead to Part Two, the Rose Lodge as you might well remember Rose Lodge, but honestly, you will probably find more meanderings there as well. Is this new adventure best read over three afternoons or a full week in bed suffering with a spring cold? For myself, I think you should take your time, reading it like chapters in a book, but I will let you make those decisions. Fellow sleuthhounds will know to get out their pads and pencils now, for this article could be a small tome onto itself. The clues will mount up to something Treacherously Wonderful.
The look of a new mystery.
My early discovery was the first, official advertisement for Rose Lodge from July 2, 1937, announcing their new location on 79th and Dodge Street. This seemed Way Out West as a child. The drive from Benson seemed to last an eternity, making it all the more special. Many of you will recognize it as the home of O’Daniel Honda of Omaha, across the street from Wild Oats Market, now Natural Grocers.
OWH July 2, 1937. “It’s New…It’s Different ROSE LODGE. My opening mystery clue in the ad read “Formerly Rose’s, 230 S. 68th Ave.” What was this? As a sleuth, one must always jot these hints down….and I knew I would want to see if there was still a building at an old address. I was not exactly able to pinpoint the location right off. During this time, by fluky fortune, a reader (operative), named Bill Glaser wrote me an email. He astutely picked up indication from one of my last articles I Wish I Could Have Gone To: The Cave Under the Hill that I would be writing about Rose Lodge in the near future. He sent along a photo of 230 S. 68th Ave, along with a little story of how he became acquainted with one of the Rouse boys who lived in this home in the 1960s. I was floored to see this glorious photo and instantly thought it looked like a Dundee-Fairacres affair. At that point I was very turned around and was not completely sold that Rose Lodge had potentially started in this beautiful home. Could Bill be mistaken, I thought to myself?
I was easily able to look up 230 S.68th Ave through the Douglas County Assessor’s site and By George, there she was. Still standing in all her glory. I had thought maybe a prior incarnation of Rose Lodge, had stood there, pre-dating the home—more of a proper restaurant? But the Assessor site said the pretty home was built in 1926. If that year was correct, that meant that Rose’s Restaurant, as it apparently was called then, had been operating out of this house. But how? I would need to have a good look and a quick drive over to 68th Avenue became of utmost importance. As I wheeled down the avenue, I shortly realized this was a block that I had spent quite a bit of time at in my early high school years, with a classmate living right up the way. I found 230 to be all the more breathtaking in person…right on the corner of 68th and Farnam. It was a nice wide lot with room to stretch. I noted the tract was uncommon in this part of town but it suited the broad, formal symmetry of the residence. Impressive.
230 South 68th Avenue on that bitterly cold day.
So I was engulfed in glory once again. I walked the quiet avenue on that cold day, sizing up each beautiful house with very different eyes than I had in high school. 230 South 68th Avenue was a beautifully strange fit for this neighborhood. I spun around on my sleuthing heels…yet another mystery involving the entangled lives and the comfortable halls of the Omaha well to do. And here I thought this article would be a simple fried chicken piece. From that moment on, I was on the case.
I had the Rose Lodge advertisement from the summer of 1937, giving me the perfect clue to the origins of the early Rose’s. It was a shameless scurry to the W. Dale Clark Library in Downtown Omaha where I cracked open that 1937 City Directory: Long exhale. There was no restaurant named Rose’s
or Rose Lodge
but under the surname of Rose, I found a “Wm. Rose h 230 S. 68th Ave.” Things were looking good. I penciled William Rose into my field notebook. By the 1938 Omaha City Directory I found “William Rose Restaurant” listed in the restaurants section, not in the cross street address section. It read “79th SE corner Dodge.” So I knew it had officially arrived…meanwhile William Rose was listed as “r 230 S. 68th Ave.” r for residence. I was beginning to put together that Mr. Rose had been operating a restaurant out of his beautiful home and then moved it out west. When I jumped back to the 1928 city directory, I was surprised to see “Rose, Wm” had listed his business as “real estate” and address was still “h. 230 S 68th Ave.”
There was no City Directory in the year 1927. So I pedaled back to 1926. There was no address for 230 S. 68th Ave. at that time. Rose’s place of employment was listed as 505 World Herald Bldg although what he did there, I cannot be sure. I thought I had read the word “toilet” as a descriptor but had decided to not dwell on that. 1926 had brought the newly built Omaha World Herald building to the northwest corner of 15th and Farnam.
Night shot looking west on Farnam Street from just past 15th Street. October 27, 1928. Cars are parked on the street. Notable buildings include: the U.S National Bank in the distance, the Omaha World Herald Building and the fantastic Nebraska Clothing Store is featured on the right. The Nebraska Clothing Company was featured in an older article: check out Mysteries of Omaha: 4025 Izard Street story for more details. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive).
Rose’s residence in 1926 was listed vaguely at “74th and Douglas.” I do hope you feel compelled to write this down with your tiny golf pencil. When I flipped to the street guide in the same directory, the closest address to 74th and Douglas was at 7315 Douglas, owned by H. C. Linahan. Not a mention of Rose in cross-reference. I assumed that 74th and Douglas was very likely farmland and they didn’t always specify a house address back then.
Early Rose Clues
It was all a swirling conundrum in the beginning and why was that, I now wonder? Why was I so surprised that a fellow with the surname of Rose had named and owned Rose Lodge? I mean, it only made perfect sense. Oddly I persisted in wanting Rose Lodge to have been named after a woman or like the flower on the tall sign, I faintly remembered. Soon after I learned that William Rose had married a woman name Rose and that is when I decided this was the Most Perfect Story Ever. I told Mr. Cassette, Mother and Step-father Cassette about the discovery one night while waiting for a table in front of the fireplace at the Drover. “Rose Rose!” I exclaimed. “Her name was Rose Rose? Can you beat that?” No one seemed to think this was as spectacular as I. That was when I knew I had gone mad.
I dug back to the 1920 U.S Census. In 1920 William Rose was 29 years of age, profession listed as “Moving Picture Thr.” The location for this profession or theatre, if I understood this correctly was “Own Place.” His position was listed as “Employer.” Rose Rose was then 23 and listed as “Saleswoman” “Show.” “Wageworker.” The young couple lived at 1017 Homer Street. According to Douglas County Assessor site this home is still alive and well and upright. And I always like to see that. The 1017 Homer Street cutie was built in 1918. The couple would own or live at this address until 1926. As the breadcrumb path would lay out before me, I would later come to believe that 1017 Homer was a movie theatre front for a very different kind of business. This will make more sense later.
1017 Homer Street photo from the Douglas County Assessor site.
Things would get more complicated when I found a notice of property sale in the “West Leavenworth” area as it was coined, in July of 1925. This showed the transfer of the “Northwest corner of Forty-fifth and Mayberry streets” from Emily M. Safarik to Rose Rose for $7,700. I tracked this plot of land to the Morton Meadows area. This corner appears to be now properly named 916 S. 45th Street. According to the Douglas County Assessor this quaint home and fine corner lot, conveniently right down the street from La Casa, was built in 1924.
916 S 45th Street. I could not be sure if the couple owned or lived at this property or if it was an investment. Photo from Google Map.
Let us have a pause and a quick brush up. This will certainly bore those among you who question my dalliances. But I think it is important to clarify the vast, enduring subtleties that have begun to pile up around this wood paneled study. I remembered that by 1928 William Rose had listed his business as that of “Real Estate.” If you are tracking with me so far, we had learned that Rose had something to do with toilets at the Omaha World Herald business, owned some sort of theatre, was in real estate and would later own a restaurant. The Rose couple owned a number of properties in 1925 which were most likely investments and it would appear that at least a few of the properties were listed in Rose Rose’s name. The Roses were tied to 45th and Mayberry, 1017 Homer Street and 74th and Douglas.
There were a number of questionable events that happened in 1925, leading me to believe that the Roses were involved in the Omaha Underworld. Of course what caused a goosey-ness with the police and the press in those dry days was quite different by today’s standards. In 1917 conservative Nebraska was quick to become a dry state, with nationwide Prohibition not officially beginning until around 1920. According to the incredible book Cigars and Wires: The Omaha Underworld’s Early Years by Jon L. Blecha, statewide Prohibition did not mean that Omaha adhered to the rules–the alcohol did not stop flowing nor did the gamblers stop betting and the sex trade…well it flourished. In fact these three trades, surely enhanced by Prohibition, were laced up in the corrupt Omaha political structure.
Anna Wilson’s house of prostitution. From the Durham’s site: “Exterior of City Emergency Hospital at 912 Douglas Street from across Douglas looking northwest. The Hospital treated contagious diseases and maintained a venereal clinic. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the building was in the heart of Omaha’s ‘sporting district’ and was a ‘resort of ill fame’ run by Anna Wilson, Omaha’s most notorious madame. When she died in 1911 she willed it to the City of Omaha. There was considerable talk as to whether such a gift was to be accepted. When the City took over the property and converted it to a hospital, the stone porch columns of carved nude women were removed and unadorned wooden ones substituted.” (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive). January 24, 1946.
The Rose Mystique
I nosed around and found evidence that in 1925, William Rose owned yet another property in the Fort Calhoun area. Rose had claimed this house as his residence as well but it was later found to be an illegal drinking establishment and “club.” This house or club was subsequently destroyed in a mysterious fire leading to the Globe and Rutgers Fire Insurance Company resisting payment. The company insisted that William Rose had misrepresented the property for residential purposes whereas they later discovered it was used for “social purposes.” This was not the only fire the Roses would encounter.
The Crounse home from the Fort Calhoun area. This was not the Rose property. This photo is only used to illustrate the gorgeous old homes in the Fort Calhoun area at the time. Just look at that! (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive). August 18, 1927.
Things Get Hinky
August of 1925 exposed Omaha to a troubling local case, one that has a modern ring to it. I will be writing more about this case in the future. The Roses came to the rescue when Omahan Dr. Charles E Barnes was charged with violating the Harrison Drug Act after his 18-year-old secretary, Miss Josephine Nepodal claimed that the doctor used her name and names of her family members in the writing of prescriptions for morphine tablets. Dr. Barnes was caught selling morphine, specifically, to one Fred M. Mapes, a patient whom he had treated for three years due to a nervous breakdown, “the drink habit” and anxiety brought on post Army service. Miss Nepodal claimed innocence when the doctor sent her to “many different drug stores, secured the prescriptions and turned them over to the doctor” over and over again. The young secretary would get thirty morphine prescriptions filled on days that Mapes came to the office. WOW. The federal agents eventually found over two hundred prescriptions that had been filled at various drug stores all over town.
They say Dr. Barnes had been threatened by a number of “outside parties” who had grudges against the doctor. It was specified these grudge holders were not the police nor federal agents. Apparently the well-known Dr. Barnes had been in a witness in the trial of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle following the death of Virginia Rappe in San Francisco. Dr Barnes had formally treated Miss Rappe while in Chicago. This was a terrible story, an early Hollywood disgrace, my grandmother would tell me about when I became enraptured with “old movies” as a teenager.
Miss Virginia Rappe
It is intriguing to note that when Dr. Charles Barnes was searched they found a “powder puff and rouge in his pocket” and later when he appeared in court his eyebrows had been shaved. Andrew Durant, a close friend of Barnes’ was in his office when the arrest happened. An “actor specializing in female impersonations,” Durant was taken into custody for questioning.
1920s lipstick. I just love the beautiful packaging of the makeup from the 1920s-1940s. This little glorious red is in a wooden tube. When I worked at an antique store, years ago, I had access to the most lovely vintage makeup, which I hoarded!
So this is all very engrossing, you will surely admit, but why on earth is Miss Cassette dragging on and on about this and what does this have to do with the Roses? Well…William “Billy” Rose of 1017 Homer Street and his wife, Rose Rose, came forward that very day to offer bond for Dr. Charles Barnes. Apparently a good friend or were they business partners? The department of justice officials had turned down Rose, demanding twenty thousand dollars worth of property as security on a ten thousand dollar bond. The Roses could produce.
The Second Mysterious Rose Fire
As if a fire at a their Fort Calhoun Speakeasy and involvement with a morphine scandal wasn’t enough, in August of 1926 the Roses had another home of theirs set ablaze after an explosion following a peculiar set of events. You will recall that William and Rose Rose owned a home on 74th and Douglas. This palatial spread allegedly sat unfurnished and was only used as a distillery even though it “just off Dodge Road in a neighborhood of expensive homes.” It was a large two and a half story structure, handsomely finished inside.”
74th and Douglas from aerial in 1941. One can see the small development years later where the Roses’ home had been nestled in. Granted this 1941 aerial was taken many years later, but it allows one to see how undeveloped this area was more than a decade later. (Photo from the DOGIS website.)
A moonshine still, estimated to have cost ten thousand dollars (about $135,000 by 2017 calculations) was found installed in the Roses’ basement at 74th and Douglas. Evidently the still exploded, setting fire to the interior of the home. The still towered nearly 20 feet and the first floor of the home had been chopped away to make room for it. Gulp….”Occupying half the basement was a huge concrete and brick vat, 10 feet long, 10 feet wide and about five feet deep. It would contain five thousand gallons.” On the morning after the fire it was full of grain mash. Additionally the cellar steps had been chopped away and replaced by a ladder, leading up into a double garage (I don’t have to tell you that this was a rarity in those days!) built onto the house. Cars could be loaded in the garage without detection from the outside. I was getting the idea that this was a serious operation. Deputy Sheriff Phillips held that the Rose moonshine outfit was one of the largest ever uncovered in Omaha. Oddly, neighbors said they had never seen anyone about the substantial home. Meanwhile William Rose contended that he had sold the house just recently to a man named Ready out of Wyoming. Inexplicably the Roses were found at a neighbor’s house across the street.
Prohibition photo of men marching with signs
Curiouser and Curiouser
Following the explosion at the 74th and Douglas Street property, officers then searched the Rose residence, finding and confiscating 750 bottles of beer, fifteen gallons of mash, a few quarts of whiskey and several crocks in their basement. The Rose residence was listed as “69th and Farnam”. I knew I had found the official link to 230 South 68th Avenue, even thought the article was one block off. Bill Rose denied connection to the still explosion and insisted that the alcohol seized from his basement on 69th (68th) Avenue was for his own use.
Later in the day this additional article was released after the arrest of William Rose.
Omaha bootleg still raid. Photo from the Durham. Although this photo was not from the Rose seizure, it illustrates the sturdy, sizable kind of crock used back in the bootlegging days. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive). 1920s.
If you are anything like Miss Cassette, these traces only bring up more questions, more connections and more excitement. Before we go much further into the fascinating Roses, let us back up a bit and examine the history of the 68th and Farnam area, as we now know the time frame that the Roses supposedly occupied 230 South 68th Avenue. Grab your magnifying glass.
The Charles L. Vance Clues
My self-induced chills and thrills only further fueled the hunt as I drove straightaway to the Douglas County Register of Deeds office. I knew that 230 South 68th Avenue was in Sunset Terrace, formally identified as Lot 25, Block 0. I soon uncovered that this property also included Lot 24, which explained the wide corner expanse I had become giddy over.
According to the deed, on June 2, 1925 Charles L. Vance et al (meaning “and others”) sold 230 South 68th Avenue to Rose Rose. By paging through the large book, I could see that Charles L. Vance had sold all of the nearby lots on this and other blocks south. I later found he had owned the land that would later be developed into the Sunset Terrace addition. But more on Sunset Terrace later. I am not exactly sure of how the Vances came to acquire the land on 68th Avenue. I have reason to believe that it was an early investment but it could have been an inheritance from Lena’s side of the family. They possessed a large swath from Dodge to Howard Streets on what would become 68th Avenue. From what I could ferret out, Charles Lyall Vance was born in or around Clarinda Iowa in 1873. He married his wife, Lena and together they had sons Charles L. Vance, Jr. and Verne W. Both boys would graduate from Creighton Law School and become local attorneys. The Senior Charles Vance was a well-known advertising executive for the Hayden Brother Department Store and was often interviewed in the local newspapers as the spokesman for the store.
Hayden Brothers Department Store was at 16th and Dodge Street. Interior of Hayden Brothers men’s hat department. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive). February 7, 1922. I had previously mentioned this fine department store when writing about Mysteries of Omaha: 4025 Izard Street. I found that John A. Swanson had been a buyer and manager at Hayden Brother’s before going on to establish King-Swanson Company and later the renowned Nebraska Clothing Company. For your records, Swanson was former Congressman Brad Ashford’s great grandfather.
3110 Chicago Street
By 1930 Charles and Lena Vance had bought the mansion at 3110 Chicago Street. 3100 Chicago Street is a fabulous home in the Gifford Park area. It probably shocks no one to hear that I simply worship this home. To find that I missed the chance at a desirous tour when it was for sale recently really breaks my heart. Cracker magnate Joseph Garneau, Jr. built the palatial home in 1890. Allegedly Garneau left town for New York with hopes of starting a wine importing business whereby Thomas Kilpatrick took ownership until his death in 1916. Mr. Vance retired from Hayden Brothers in 1931 after working there for more than twenty years.
Son Charles, Jr. died suddenly at home after a bout of pneumonia. At age 33, he left a wife and four small children. Charles, Sr. and Lena would later move to a house at 205 South 25th Avenue where Charles, Sr. would die in 1946. He had been a lifelong Mason and active in local musical organizations. Lena Vance died in 1949 following complications from a surgery.
205 South 25th Avenue. Photo from Google Map. Nearby is now home to the Salvation Army. This short avenue runs perpendicular to Douglas. The Vance house would have been closer to Douglas Street. There were a number of large homes in this area at one time, which were converted into rooming houses. Its history is covered thoroughly in my article: Mysteries of Omaha: 2561 Douglas Street.
2510 Country Club Avenue. Attorney Verne Vance, their youngest son, would go on to live in this Country Club area home—possibly the most winsome abode on the planet Earth. Photo from Google Map.
The Sunset Terrace Puzzle
Have we fallen in the nettles yet? I do hope you are still with us and finding this an endless cycle of delight. Let us circle back to Sunset Terrace, as I seem to remember promising I would tie this into a precious little bow. The development along 68th Avenue from Dodge to Howard Streets is called the Sunset Terrace addition. This development was created in September of 1924 and was touted as “Adjoining Fairacres.”
You’ll Want A lot in Sunset Terrace from September 25, 1924. A later article from October of 1924, I learned the sightly new addition of Sunset Terrace was “recently platted and has been placed on sale this week by a syndicate of Omaha men.” The addition was only forty-six lots and not exactly selling like hot cakes. “Improvements are being pushed to completion as rapidly as possible,” one article read. I was not sure what that meant but was more hung up on that syndicate of Omaha men idea. Did that mean that “Charles L. Vance et al” was the head of this syndicate? I would later come to believe that this was an investment and that Charles and partners had purchased and developed this west neighborhood.
Own a Piece of the Earth! July 16, 1926. A bit later, after the Roses had purchased 230 South 68th Avenue, this advertisement ran. I enjoy the 12- point address intended to attract just the right, moneyed crowd. Read each statement for the bellwether wink to the young, up and coming West O crowd.
West Dodge in 1925
According to Bradley H. Baltensperger’s Nebraska, A Geography, Omaha began expanding westward along Dodge, then known as Lincoln Highway, with the growing popularity of the automobile. The 1910s through the 1920s brought a need for quick, urban sprawl, passing through and annexing, existing villages and towns such as Benson and Dundee. Remarkably, Fairacres Village (now Fairacres neighborhood), one of the most desirous Omaha areas, held out until 1941.
Fairacres’ homes, essentially a field away, back in 1928. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive).
230 South 68th Avenue Mention
I reached a number of roadblocks in my search for deeper Sunset Terrace clues. The Reconnaissance Survey of Selected Neighborhoods in West-Central Omaha including Fairacres, Dillon’s Fairacres, Mel-Air and others: Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey prepared by Mead & Hunt, Inc in 2009, included 230 South 68th Avenue in their survey. It is a great little book, available at the W. Dale Clark Library but rather lite in comparison to other Omaha surveys. Other than a formal nod to the building design and inclusion in the historic neighborhood survey, I could uncover no further details on 230 in the study.
Survey Photo from 2009. Photo taken by Mead & Hunt, Inc. The property was labeled Spanish Colonial Revival style.
Origins of 230 South 68th Avenue
Let us again find our bearing and revisit the original deed. We know that Vance had sold the plat to Rose Rose in June of 1925. It is believed that by 1926 William and Rose had constructed their large residence originally costing more than thirty thousand dollars. Thirty thousand dollars in 1926 had the same buying power, roughly, as $405,000 today. Oddly this property is currently valued just a bit higher ($25,000 more) according to the Douglas County Assessor site. This whole area around 68th Avenue is so very lovely and I encourage you to go visit when you can sneak away. The Fair Ridge, Fair Park and Drury Manor developments include some of the finest hidden gems in Omaha. I love how Sunset Terrace is nestled in there in such a cozy manner.
Current Google Map of the area.
Sadly all of this busy bodying about could not produce information on the architect of 230 South 68th Avenue. Perhaps the current homeowner will come forward with the juicy details. What I was able to uncover through newspaper articles was that 230 South 68th Avenue started life very much as it appears today. The brick and stucco home had ten rooms to include four bedrooms, full maid’s quarters, with multiple baths and a double garage. The grounds were landscaped with a fishpond and flowerbeds. More clues on that later!
Southern side of the home, from Farnam Street.
The survey of 2009 labeled the design as a Spanish Colonial Revival style. Ignorant as I am of all the technicalities, I knew, at the very least from the formal layout of 230, taking into account the year that it was built, the property would be of the American Revival period—the emphasis on “correct” interpretation of the past, the formality and “good taste” spread to these smaller, suburban home models during these years. The stucco and low-pitched clay tile roof was a nod to the Spanish style as do the hood moldings, arched transoms, the fluted columns and the adorable fanlights. But 230 is missing some key elaborations like the wrought iron balconies, strap hinges and the casual asymmetrical layout. I observe Georgian formality here with serious Italian Renaissance revival hints– 230’s interest in symmetry, balanced proportions and Classical details. The fanlights displayed above the double-hung sash windows also fit in this style.
Beautiful front–taken on a much warmer day.
In a vice grip between The Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture by Rachel Carley and A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia Savage McAlester, I am leaning toward calling this fine Midtown home a mix of the Eclectic movement, purely an American hybrid with serious hints at the Georgian, Italian Renaissance and Spanish styles. The simple hipped roof without the a prominent porch, with the small classical columns, the rounded arches above the door, the first story windows, the one-story matching, enclosed side wings–all signs of the Italian Revival. The stuccoed walls were perfected after World War I.
The Spanish Revival is seen in the little eave overhang and the fact that there are no bracket details. If I could only peak inside and see what the interior revealed! These side wings, by the way, could have been an early addition to the home. I have found proof of a number of homes in this exact mixed style from this time period. And I might be wrong, wrong, wrong, chums, but I know you will correct me.
The Newest Report from 230 South 68th Avenue
According to the last sale of the residence, 230 South 68th Avenue was described on Zillow as a two and a half story “mansion.” Again, you know my thoughts on Omaha and it’s over exaggeration of mansion status, which I adhere to wholeheartedly! It gives us a much-needed thrill. “You will appreciate the original woodwork, wood floors and French Doors. There’s also original beveled glass and 9 foot ceilings. The main level has 2 fireplaces, a Living Room, a Formal Dining Room & a Sunroom perfect for curling up with a cup of coffee or a good book. The kitchen has been nicely updated and has a large Pantry, a built in desk area and a neat Breakfast Nook. All bedrooms are generously sized. The 3rd level has a 5th bedroom and a Full Bath. Outside in the expansive yard you’ll discover a gazebo, hot tub, many beautiful flowers and plantings, plus quaint pathways that lead to a tranquil pond. See this one of a kind mansion today!”
Floor plan from the Douglas County Assessor site. I know it is quite vague but this gives one an idea of how spacious this home must be. Let it be known that if you have been in this home, either as a guest or on a real estate tour, we want to hear from you.
The Bootleggers of 68th Avenue
Before you assume that the Roses had cleaned up their act, moving into the fried chicken field, let me assure that there is still plenty more underworld pointers to sift through. You may want to review your operative notes at this point—but the big reminder is that the Rose’s home at 74th and Douglas had blown up in August of 1926. In December of 1926 I found that William Rose has sold the 68th Avenue residence and the 41st and Leavenworth property to his brother, Henry Q. Rose for $45,000.
Real Estate Transfer from OWH December 21, 1926. (Note, our good friend Adelaide Fogg from the article The Quest for Miss Adelaide Fogg is selling property on 42nd and Farnam to Nathan Somberg. The fact that William, Rose and Henry continued to live together in the palatial south Fairacres abode, tipped me off to the potential for the ongoing Rose Hooch business. They needed the property out of William and Rose’s names for some reason. With the frank daring smile of an Irishman, I dug further.
It was rather hard to ignore the West Omaha speakeasy scandal from November of 1927, both for neighbors and the rest of the town. As the story goes, “30 well-dressed persons fled hurriedly” from the Rose home on 68th Avenue after a nighttime Prohibition raid. The Rose family had been running both a club and a bootlegging outfit in their home William Rose was named as the “operator of the bootlegging place.” Interesting to note the distinction of “thirty well-dressed persons” by the reporter. This was surely indication to the general public that the Roses weren’t just operating some backwood roadhouse, even though their speakeasy was on the edge of town. This was a moneyed establishment.
Josephine Baker in Paris 1928. I tried to imagine what 30 well-dressed persons might have looked like running from the home on 68th and Farnam. I wanted them to look as glamorous as this brilliant photo of Josephine.
An interior view of what appears to be a bar at the home of George Brandeis. There are two tables with small chairs sitting around them. There is a bar with four stools in front of it, with three casks behind it. Not the Roses’ home but used to illustrate how a private home might feature a “bar” at that time. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive). 1929.
I tried to imagine what a speakeasy in a home might like look. I found this photo.
Dry Officers Raid. Nov 12, 1927. The Rose raid produced more than one hundred gallons of whisky and a charcoal aging plant. A new $1,500 automobile owned by one Allen Oliver was also seized on a charge of “transportation.” So while this area was recognized as a beautiful neighborhood, the Roses were using this covert environ as an unlawful hush-hush nightclub. I was beside myself.
Apparently a neighbor had called in the Rose enterprise and reported of a shooting in the neighborhood. Can you imagine all that racket on sleepy little 68th Avenue? Through further digging, I located proof that James Kazakas, neighbor at 117 South 68th Avenue, alleged to have been threatened by William Rose. This threat apparently prompted Kazakas to call in the federal raid. WOW
117 South 68th Avenue. This great house is across the street and up two homes from the Rose residence. This home, according to the Douglas County Assessor was erected in 1926, the same year as the Roses’ home. All of the other houses on the block were built in the 1940s except for 114 South 68th Ave built in 1930. Due to the Great Depression from 1929 through 1939 most residential construction halted across the country.
114 South 68th Ave. A lovely home. As stated by the Douglas County Assessor, 114 was thought to be built in 1930– Making it only the third home on the block after the initial Sunset Terrace launch five years earlier.
What I would hypothesize is that the Roses were used to having the block to themselves, except for that pesky Kazakas. I cannot be sure what happened between James Kazakas and William Rose, only that Rose ended up paying a $500 peace bond (an order from the court requiring a person to keep the peace and be on good behavior for a period of time.)
Looking southwest on Dodge Street from about 68th Avenue. There is a vet’s office on the street with a car parked in front. Further down the hill you can see some other buildings. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive). Photo from about the 1940s but it illustrates how desolate this western part of Dodge still was at the time.
Looking northeast at about 70th & Dodge Street, practically way out in the sticks. There is a large billboard advertising the Rosen-Novak dealership. There is a single house at the top of the hill, that is still there to this day. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive).
SIDENOTE: The other great little houses on 68th are all of the small house trend of the 1940s. I recommend Small Houses of the Forties by Harold E. Group, an incredible collection of homes with illustrations and floor plans, if you want to know more about this movement. It is interesting to the note the style and larger size of two original homes at 117 and 230, followed by 114 in 1930, which speak to the times. Sunset Terrace potentially might have been a very different neighborhood had those lots sold quickly in the 1920s.
113 South 68th Avenue. Spectacular Spanish style home.
Miss Cassette’s favorite: 222 South 68th Avenue.
225 South 68th Avenue. Happy, little home!
301 South 68th Avenue. I adore this home!
307 South 68th Avenue. Absolutely perfect.
Farnam Street footpath. Now the Farnam Street thoroughfare, running just south of the Rose house, was blocked off and turned into a footpath years ago. UNO is just east of Sunset Terrace (and other developments) with Elmwood Park and Elmwood Golf Course directly to the south of UNO. It is doubtful that Farnam Street was ever a direct route to the Roses from Downtown Omaha.
Another Speakeasy Bust and the Fate of the Rose Ducks
In early December two large vice squads headed out into liquor raiding action from midnight until early one morning. The list of arrests and the incredible club names from back in the day were simply fascinating. I wish I could include it all here.
Samardick Hits Bootleggers December 3, 1927 OWH. “The first place raided was that of William Rose, 230 South Sixty-Eighth Avenue, where 59 gallons of whisky were found and 30 gallons of beer mash. Others arrested there were Mrs. Rose, a brother, Henry Rose and Walter Mulfinger.”
Raid Fatal to Ducks OWH December 8, 1927. I am not the one to decipher which of these elements is more odd than the next. The Roses evidently kept seven live ducks in their basement in a swimming pool. When William Rose gave bond in federal court for the December raid, he reported that two of his seven ducks were killed due to the fumes and dumping of whisky and beer mash in their basement pool. The conclusion that I would prefer to assume is that the Roses moved their ducks into the basement for the winter from their well-known pond in the garden. But it conjures visions of a wading pool in the basement. I need to get in that house.
The Missing Link and the Auction
By spring of 1928, a missing witness marked William Rose’s federal liquor trial. Witness Harvey Draeger testified that he and a “man named Porter” bought liquor on three separate occasions from Rose. Rose’s attorney called Draeger into question, as earlier “Porter” had testified in the preliminary that he had actually made the buys. It was later surmised that Porter was a felon with a colorful past of his own. Conveniently, this Porter character had gone missing. Now friends and fellow detectives, I am only presenting evidence. You can draw any conclusion that you feel comfortable with. Regardless Rose was found guilty on six counts of liquor indictment after nearly three hours of jury deliberation. Apparently our man Rose started a fight with Draeger out in the courthouse hall.
Auction from May 14, 1928. Two days before the jury returned a verdict in William Rose’s court case, the beautiful Rose estate was to be put up for auction. The gorgeous corner lot was “largest,” “highest-priced” home in Omaha ever to be offered at auction (as of 1928 and 230 was “placed on block” in what was thought to establish a precedent for real estate to come. The article cited that expensive California homes were often purchased at auction. I couldn’t help but feel sad for the Roses and for the house.
A mysterious Lone Pine Nebraska rancher named P. Jensen was rumored to have placed the highest bid at $18,100 on the May 28, 1928 auction. Interestingly, P. Jensen’s main competitor in a bidding war was the Omaha Chief of Police, who was no doubt quite familiar with the Rose establishment. William Rose offered all furnishings, valued at four thousand dollars for one thousand cash but had no takers. Things got hinky when I discovered that the mysterious P. Jensen never took ownership of the house. In fact brother, Henry Q. Rose continued to own the home-speakeasy for a number of years following the raid and auction. Was Jensen brought in as a guise? He reportedly had been in South Omaha at market that day, with a shipment of cattle. Was this a smokescreen to get the police department off their backs? I cannot be sure. It all seemed a little flimsy when I found an article about the “home of William Rose in Fairacres” being padlocked in November of 1928 due to Prohibition violations but was not ordered “permanently closed.” I began to suspect the Roses of having some serious social connections in Omaha.
An Omaha fireman examining a homemade still. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive).
A Sleight of Hand
For the next couple of years, the Roses kept themselves well under the radar. A prowl around found them conspicuously missing from local papers and in court records. I have significant reason to believe this was all by design. In the spring of 1930 Henry Q. Rose sold 230 South 68th Avenue back to Rose Rose. It was announced in the paper as the largest city property transfer at $40,000.
Who Were the Roses?
As much as I snooped around, I was having difficulty recovering much personal information about the Rose family. This dilemma would continue throughout the investigation, leaving me to theorize all sorts of fantastic storylines. Their photos were not in the newspaper. Their exploits weren’t documented in the Society Pages. They were not known for hobnobbing in any fashion other than owning a fabulous house on the outskirts of Fairacres, where liquor was made and served up. It wasn’t until I located the 1930 U.S. Census that I found a tad more detail of the clan. Rose Rose was estimated to have been born in 1896. In1930 she was 34. Her parents were from “Czecho-slovakia.” She had no occupation listed. From my sleuthing, it would appear that Rose Rose never gave birth to any children. Much later I would learn that her maiden name had been Celak. Her mother was Marie Celak. Rose had three brothers (Charles, Henry and Edward) and two sisters Besse and Mary). Upon brother Charles Celak’s death in 1956, he was listed as having lived at 1019 Homer Street. I noted that this was one house away from the Roses’ property at 1017. Did they own more homes on that block? I warned you I went mad.
In that same 1930 Census William Rose was listed at age 40. His parents were from Berlin, Germany. Much later I would learn that William was born and raised in Omaha. His brothers were listed as Henry, Jack and Otto Rose. I wondered if the Rose surname had been Germanized or Americanized from a proper Jewish name. I was not able to find William Rose listed within the wonderful Nebraska Jewish Historical Society burial registry. In 1930 Rose was listed as a “manager in Real Estate.” Henry Rose, William’s brother was then 34 and was listed as the “gardener in the home.” I liked that very much. I fancied Henry was the one behind the landscaping with fishponds and flowerbeds. I imagined him gardening in brown tweed wool pants on that fine corner.
Definitely not our Henry Q. Rose but a great photo of how I envision him tending to his garden and his ducks.
Gun Fire on 68th Avenue
Unfortunately Bill Rose was in and out of court through the early 1930s. He continued to serve jail sentences much as he had before. In yet another raid on the 230 South 68th Avenue home, now called the “residence of Mrs. Rose Rose,” a prohibition agent fired his gun after Rose Rose “grabbed at his wrist.” Mrs. Rose was charged with attempting to destroy liquor seized as evidence. Later it was revealed that the agent, Frank Haas, had been pointing the weapon at William when Rose purposefully struck the agent’s arm. The bullet went into the wall. I wonder if we could still find this clue?
Dec 1, 1930 Dry Agent Admits Shot. Note that the US Commissioner Mary Mullen was on the case. She was the daughter of the Mullens of The Curious Case of the French Fairytale Cottage: Part One fame.
The Fried Chicken Connection
With all of the bootlegging shenanigans, I was beginning to wonder where or when that delicious fried chicken would enter the picture. I am sure you are wondering the same. I was beside myself when near the end of the investigation I found an ad from the late 1970s honoring many of the early Omaha businesses. It was there that I found Rose Lodge had been serving Rose’s Famous Fried Chicken since 1934.
1934 Rose Lodge. Serving Rose’s Famous Fried Chicken. Open 362 days a year. So although we know that the Roses had not yet moved to the 78th and Dodge location, we had our definitive answer about chicken and steak dinners being served out of 230 South 68th Avenue. Now in those days it was known as Rose Restaurant, sometimes called Rose’s and also the William Rose Restaurant. For a period it was known as Rose’s Roadhouse in some articles. I was beside myself with the imagery of Mildred’s from one of my favorite disturbing Joan Crawford movies, Mildred Pierce. The idea of a glorious restaurant in a glorious home..…I weakened.
Mildred’s Fine Food. Still from Mildred Pierce, where a gorgeous home is the setting of a great restaurant.
One Night’s Catch in Slot Machine Campaign. Jan 19, 1934. By 1934 the couple had brought slot machines into restaurant-bar enterprise. “Raid of the roadhouse operated by William Rose at 230 South 68th Avenue” read the article. This raid was part of a new slot machine focused drive by vice, with two machines being confiscated at the Roses’. One was said to be a nickel machine, the other a quarter machine.
Yet Another Fire
It was many nights that I carried my lonely flashlight to bed, obsessively exploring in a fine sweep, miles of newspaper articles. Mr. Cassette and a number of furry friends snored pleasantly in unison as I paused and studied each enchanting Rose document. At that point it did not surprise me to learn that Rose Rose also owned a great little home at 4751 Capitol. In a suspicious fire being credited to pyromaniacs, the Roses were once again in the news. Was this fire set in the basement a personal vendetta against the Roses? Two men were seen running from the fire into the wee hours of the morning street. This tidy but peculiar article revealed that Rose Rose was sister in law of Police Captain Frank Rose, only adding to the family mystery. Bill’s brother was the police captain? Hmmmm.
Why here he is now–Police Captain Frank Rose sitting at his desk and laughing. John Savage May of 1949. But the Roses were in trouble with the law so much. Maybe they might have been in trouble more, had it not been for the brother? If you have the faintest idea of what that meant, you are to be congratulated. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive).
4751 Capitol was built in 1890 and is located in Dundee. Look at these gingerbread scallops and wise aura. Mrs. Rose had acquired a building permit for building repair to the tune of $1,057 that August and by 1936 had sold off the property.
Long Awaited Arrival
By May of 1935, two years after Prohibition ended, Rose Rose was finally granted a beer license. The press made a point to mention that the commissioner had previously objected to the license until it could be determined that the application was not made for William Rose. Another signal that Roses had Respectably Arrived in Omaha was a short mention in the 1937 society page. “Mrs. Fred DeVore will entertain 28 guests at dinner this evening at Rose Rose’s Country Club in celebration of Mr. DeVore’s birthday.” Country Club, indeed. It was in that very same year that the Roses would move way out west, as everyone thought in those days and solidify their beloved restaurant in the Omaha annals, leaving behind their colorful past.
Example of a 1920s/1930s kitchen. Photo from the Library of Congress collection.
The Official Rose Lodge
I still cherish the enduring, if not fuzzy, memory of Rose Lodge. When pressed, I was upset by how very dim the fine points of this vision had become after all these decades. The restaurant really wasn’t much of a looker, by today’s standards. In fact, I fondly remember it looking like something of an old farmhouse with an addition built around it, which only served to remind me, how very far we had driven from Benson to get there. I might have made up that farmhouse-with-the-addition bit but through my mind there drifted a strong visual. It was like that early delight when one realizes that Gorat’s Steakhouse, Marks Bistro, Goldberg’s in Dundee and La Casa Pizzeria were actually built around small Midtown homes. Comforting and comfortable. Customers would park out front on the Beverly Drive side and enter through a west-facing door. There seemed to be a hidden quality to that southern end of Beverly Drive that isn’t there now. Perhaps there was a hedge or wall of trees to the very south of Rose Lodge? I can’t be sure. I do remember the very tall Rose Lodge sign, which could be seen as we inched west along Dodge toward our destination. The entry way seemed small. I recall a red interior, maybe with red vinyl chairs or booths? The walls seemed dark and inviting, like a back room at the old Trovato’s Italian in Dundee but much larger. In fact, the restaurant seemed to keep going and going, as the hostess would bring us to our table. Rose Lodge was a very special place to me in those days and I remember going there for special birthdays or after an Ak-Sar-Ben family show. I didn’t know how lucky I was. Unfortunately as much as I explored, I could find no up close photos of the real Rose Lodge.
I highlighted in yellow the Rose Lodge property. Looking southeast over 76th & Dodge Street. The old 76th and Dodge Drive-in theater is at the left and across the road is the Cargill Inc. facility. New Tower Motor Inn is seen just north of Rose Lodge. Northwest of Rose Lodge is the Beverly Hills Plaza. 1955-05-01. (Photo courtesy of the John Savage Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive).
I was able to find this artist rendering of Rose Lodge from 1983. I could be way off, but I don’t remember it looking like this. Maybe the artist took some freedoms or my mind’s eye might have over the years. Of course this drawing does not conjure the feeling of the inside nor the incredible scent.
I need hardly mention to you, fellow detectives, that when I embarked on this fresh treasure hunt into the second incarnation of Rose Lodge in West Omaha, I was very soon to discover a whole new heap of clues. I promise you we will soon draw a plan on Rose Lodge but first let us take a wide lens view.
I knew we had a year to start from: 1937–a base from the first advertisement of the new Rose Lodge location—a decisive stroke of luck that set this whole mystery in motion.
It’s new it’s different Rose Lodge July 2, 1937. Notice that the couple could now proudly offer “Your Favorite Beer” without fear of repercussions.
I pulled myself together and again headed for the Douglas County Register of Deeds Office. According to the early deed, Josephine H. Weidenfeller sold the farmland, which would later house Rose Lodge, to the Beverly Hills Company in February 14, 1918. I found the name Josephine Weidenfeller in the newspaper dating back to 1906, evidently selling gobs of Omaha property. Under J. H. Weidenfeller there were even more sales. This woman owned everything! Of particular interest was the 1912 sale of a large residence on 31st Avenue between Davenport and Chicago, “opposite the Yates Residence.”
August 11, 1918 Beverly Hills Company advertisement. 1918 was a significant year for the new Beverly Hills Company. They began buying up huge swaths of land in this area. In an article of 1925, the Byron Read Company was listed as the realtors in charge of Beverly Hills. An announcement of Dr. John Mack buying fifteen acres of “Beverly Hills property in the West Dodge district, lying south of the peony farm in the vicinity of 84th Street” piqued my interest. This mention of the peony farm is an old reference to what would become Peony Park. This whole area from 72nd west along Dodge was basically farmland.
The future Beverly Hills development site “somewhere west of the Omaha city limits.” 1918. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive).
Somehow in August of 1931, the plat changed hands from Bart E. Frank and wife to Gladys C. Johnson. It was noted in the deed that Bart Frank had died. I cannot be sure if he was an early investor in the Beverly Hills Company and/or if he was farming the area of 78th and Beverly Drive. Was the Rose Lodge his original farmhouse? Gladys C. Johnson and husband later sold the property to Mrs. Rose Rose on July 22, 1938. By July of 1939, Rose Rose had MUD complete work on the restaurant. I was unreasonably elated. This must have meant that the Roses rented the farmhouse for a year before buying it.
Not Out of the Woods
By all accounts while the Roses were becoming established as successful, well-respected entrepreneurs, they still had their brushes with the police. “Mrs. Rose Rose, operator of an inn near Omaha” was hit with a temporary liquor license suspension for serving beer and liquor after closing hours shortly after opening. These busts would happen frequently in the early years on West Dodge. Of note, the 78th, (curiously sometimes called 79th Street), and Dodge location was not considered within the Omaha city limit. 78th or 79th was not yet called Beverly Drive and Dodge Street was still a highway bringing western travelers into Omaha. Not even the Streets of Omaha: Their Origins and Changes book of which I am so fond could peg the year that South 78th became Beverly Drive.
The first mention I found of newfound Beverly Drive was from this July 22, 1922 announcement in the OWH. I will assume, as should you, that it was named after the burgeoning Beverly Hills development.
The Green Gables Connection
Sometime in the mid 1930s William Rose bought the Green Gables Tea Room, formerly at 2552 Leavenworth. I surmised Rose attained the business in October of 1936—a real estate deal that offered up a “large home in Florence” in conjunction with “former Green Gables Tea Room.” Friends, this was no tearoom. Police stormed the Green Gables as often as the Rose Mansion in Sunset Terrace. By the 1940s, under the new name, the Green Gables Inn, Rose had established a proper drinking establishment at 72nd and Dodge. In other documents, I found that it was also known as a steakhouse in the 1940s. Advertisements calling for Green Gables’ waitresses from the late 1940s offered “transportation and a furnished home,” leading me to wonder if the Green Gables Inn was also built around an original house or if the Roses had so many real estate properties that they were able to rent to their employees. Regardless, it was an unusual offer.
A group of men and police stand in a doorway and look at confiscated pinball machines. Pinball machine raid. 1939. (Photo courtesy of the John Savage Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive). I cannot say with surety that this photo was from the Green Gables pinball machine seizure but I do have articles from 1937-1939 showing that the Green Gables Inn at 72nd and Dodge was often subject to weekend raids. The slot machines “one armed bandits” as they were called and pinball cash pay off machines were the focus of the busts. The pinball “actuated the slot machine device for the payoff. In one Green Gable raid the police were happy to yield $3.40 for the county treasurer.
By the time I had discovered all of this Green Gables business, I began to feel a little dizzy. I suspected the business as being on the southwest corner of 72nd and Dodge, where Kenny’s Steakhouse had been when I was a girl. Later that corner became Borders Bookstore and now home to the digital library, Do Space. With hands trembling I went to the DOGIS site and investigated. Indeed there was a smaller business just to the east of Kenny’s Steakhouse until the mid 1950s.
Kenny’s-Green Gable area. Was the Green Gable Inn east of Kenny’s Steakhouse or did Kenny’s take over after the Green Gable closed in 1950? My brief exploration led me to believe that Kenny’s Steakhouse officially opened in 1950. The two buildings are depicted on the southwest corner of 72nd and Dodge on this aerial map of approximately 1950. It is interesting to see that Douglas Street cut across this corner in a diagonal fashion and would remain until Borders Bookstore came to the corner in the 1990s.
Charlie Hutter Resurfaces
You may remember our friend Charles Hutter, Sr. from the The Curse of the Clover Leaf Club fame. Charlie Hutter again made news in 1943 but this time for killing a young farmer in front of the Green Gable Inn. Hutter, surprisingly a former Sarpy county sheriff but known for his deep ties in the Omaha underworld, was featured prominently in the news during the Prohibition era. As the story goes, Charlie Hutter, then 55 and a 23-year-old Grant Fallon of Elkhorn were said to have gotten into a fight at the Green Gable Inn. There were varying accounts of three men arguing with a man in a car, later identified as Hutter. Fallon was said to have punched Hutter four times before the fatal shot. Fallon’s friends claimed that Hutter drove into one of their cars in the lot and that they did nothing to provoke the shooting. Charlie Hutter’s doctor attested to his swollen jaw and evidence of a good punching from that night. The friends reported to a night of drinking at the Ten Mile Inn on West Dodge Road, followed by a stop at Rose Lodge and then to Green Gable Inn. Hutter was charged with second-degree murder. I told you this Rose goose chase would circle back to the Cigars and Wires: The Omaha Underworld’s Early Years book. For all of the Rose exploits, their only mention in this book was the murder in their parking lot.
Charles Hutter sitting in a jail cell for murder, December 6, 1943. (Photo courtesy of the John Savage Collection at the Durham Museum Photo Archives.)
The Demise of the Green Gable Inn
As the Rose fate would have it, the Green Gable Inn oil furnace exploded one Thursday morning in 1948, burning and blowing a large hole in the restaurant floor. By April of 1950 William Rose was ready to move on, running an ad, which read: “Lost our lease. Miscellaneous restaurant equipment and fixtures for sale. 7205 Dodge. Green Gables. Complete fixtures and stock of Green Gables Steakhouse. Conducted by Walnut Hill Auction Co.” By the way 7205 Dodge Street is the exact address of the Do Space digital library.
72nd and Dodge. Looking southwest over the intersection of 72nd & Dodge Street before the Crossroads Mall was built. (Photo courtesy of the John Savage Collection at the Durham Museum Photo Archives.) May 1, 1955. The building directly across from the haphazard trailer park (yes, the site of the current Crossroads mall marquee was previously a trailer court!) appears to be a small Tudor style gas station. Was this originally the Green Gable Inn? The building to the west is where I remember Kenny’s Steakhouse being located, although I don’t think it looked like that.
The Real Rose Lodge
No more willy-nillying about, I pretend-scolded myself. If I do say, this has been a fantastically fun dawdle. But let us pull ourselves together but for the mere appearance of this detective’s endeavor. I pulled the collar of my pea coat up and strode into the stacks. From the official record, I presumed part of the popularity and appeal of the fried chicken and steak dinners at Rose Lodge was that they were served up anytime, day or night. The prices were reasonable at any budget. They were open every day of the week and their ingenious location welcomed folks from the country as well as the city. Rose Lodge was close to the new Peony Park, making it a great place to stop for a meal after a day of play or an evening event.
DOGIS 1941 aerial of the Rose Lodge area. As you can see, this was country. In one article from 1946, I found Omar Bakery entertaining its returning veterans at a special Rose Lodge dinner, to be followed by a hockey game at the Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum. Eighty guests were expected, leading me to believe that Rose Lodge had expanded quite a bit from that original farmhouse. They would smartly adapt into a patio area, boasting their May 1946 “Outside Beer License Granted.” In 1947 the Roses moved into selling package beer for their customers on the move. They also had a full bar in-house called Rose’s Tavern.
Rose Rose sold 230 South 68th Avenue to Estrella L. Rickerd in January of 1940. It is believed that the Roses sold this Sunset Terrace home to move into a dwelling adjacent to the Rose Lodge restaurant. I found verification that others would live there as well. Were they employees, family or renters? I was intrigued. In July of 1944 the Roses were selling “Three choice acres at 79th and Dodge: city water, gas, electricity. Rose Lodge” leading me to believe the couple had bought up surrounding lots either early on or after the initial purchase.
Even Ava Gardner’s mother served up fried chicken to Mickey Rooney on their first staged meeting.
Death of William “Bill” Rose
William Rose died in June of 1953 at the young age of 56 after a sudden illness. From an earlier advertisement of 1944, I found traces that William had at one time run for county commissioner of the third district. In this ad, I discovered Rose was Republican, born and raised in Douglas County and had been a member of the American Legion. But his main claim to fame was that he was “Famous for his Fried Chicken and Steak Dinners at the ROSE LODGE.” I do regret not finding out more about Bill Rose because by headlines alone, he was a very interesting person. His early death must have been quite the shock for our Rose Rose.
OWH obit from June 28, 1953, where Rose’s age is 56.
One day later, this obit ran, listing his age as 63. Also giving the clue that he was buried at Hillcrest Cemetery.
That Secret Recipe
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s I found many, many ads stating, “Sell Us Your Spring Chickens. Rose Lodge.” There are also rumors that Rose Rose raised her own chickens out back, but I could not find solid proof of this. During this time period Harlan Sanders, the original Colonel Sanders, was developing his signature Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe but the Omaha community believed Rose Lodge had already perfected the art. Father of Miss Cassette had this to say: “The name of the best 1950s fried chicken place ever was Rose Lodge. Chicken was different then—it wasn’t gooey like now. The chicken was more toned from walking around – not just sitting on a perch eating feed with growth hormones. Rose’s drew people from all over the place. It was famous, kind of like King’s Drive-In in Lincoln. Really tasty, flaky crust—they were known for that crust and it was even much better than my mom’s or grandmother’s.” I soon discovered a boatload of write-ins to the Omaha World Herald over the years, of hungry Rose Lodge fans looking to score that secret recipe. Also frequently requested was the secret coleslaw recipe. If any reader knows of these recipes, please share.
Judy Garland making her own fried chicken in the 1940s. Love her.
New Neighbors in 1955
Aside from amassing a monumental family business in the 1950s, Rose Lodge found some new neighbors mid decade. 1955 brought the brand new Beverly Hills Plaza to the north side of Dodge. The H. A. Wolfe Realty Company was behind the venture.
August 2, 1955 Brand new H.A. Wolfe Realty Company– The Beverly Hills Plaza at 78th and Dodge under construction. (Photo courtesy of the Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive).
Looking south with Dodge running horizontal across the photo. Rose Lodge is seen with additions behind, Little Papio curving through the image on the left and countryside to the south.
1955 Aerial shot from GIS mapping. Rose Lodge is shown just to the east of the words “Beverly Dr.” Bevery Hills Plaza is shown as that wide stretch of white parking along Dodge. The 76th and West Dodge Drive-In is shown in the upper right. From old notes I had transcribed on “The Drive-In” as it was called, this early Omaha drive-in was opened in 1948 and could accommodate 550 cars in its day.
Meanwhile as stated in the 1955 Omaha City Directory, the Lawrence Ortman family was living at our old fixation, 230 South 68th Avenue. I backtracked and found the family had taken ownership in 1945, after buying the home from Ms. Rickerd.
As only the humorous universe could arrange, Rose Rose, the once Prohibition-balking proprietor began loaning out her “high way café” to Saint Timothy’s Lutheran Church congregation on Sundays. Rose allegedly installed a rented organ in the dining room for her Sunday guests. My favorite quote of this whole investigation was the sly OWH wink: “Many a hungry wayfarer, misled by all those parked cars, stopped in for a snack. These is no record that any of them remained after being advised it was church time.”
Temporarily Closed July 11, 1956. Another clue that made me love Rose Rose all the more was this simple ad from 1956, announcing that Rose Lodge would close for July and August “So all our employees may enjoy a summer vacation.” Please note the accompanying ad for the Town House, a Miss Cassette obsession forthcoming.
Mysterious Clues of the 1960s
Valuable as is this information, or exhaustive, dependent on your personality type and true mettle, even Miss Cassette wondered where the chest of gold would rest. I found that Rose Lodge began bringing even more money in by selling their famous fried chicken to other restaurants, a real feather in the cap for these other businesses. It was a win-win.
Alberto’s down on 5th and Pierce. Best neighborhood ever! Oddly, April 11, 1961 was the absolute last time I found mention of Rose Rose in conjunction with Rose Lodge. It was an advertisement for waitresses. And then…poof. Nothing.
By March of 1962, articles of incorporation had been filed for Rose Lodge, “Omaha restaurant and cabaret,” with 100 thousand dollars authorized capital stock. The incorporators were listed as Joy Drucker and Marie Marik. Was the idea of a Rose Lodge corporate charter more confusing or the fact that the restaurant was known as a cabaret? You be the judge.
Concurrently the 1962 Omaha City Directory revealed that Mr. William A. Rouse, an employee of the Lutheran Medical Center, now owned 230 South 68th Avenue. Through examination I found the Rouse family had actually bought the property back in October of 1958 from Margaret Ortman. This touched back full circle with my friend, Bill Glaser who had wrote that he knew the Rouses in the 1960s. What a tidy fragment that turned out to be.
By the by, I am wondering if you are as famished as I? To quote Nancy Drew, my life inspiration, “All this Mystery Solving Makes Me Hungry!” A few deeply private words about fried chicken: Now some will say fried chicken is unhealthy and greasy and all sorts of hideous whispers. I have proudly and outwardly been a vegan and a vegetarian and a pescovarian and all sorts of other isms too but my thoughts on (and true love of) fried chicken always remained the same. I savored it. I craved it. It is the consummate sneak food, in my shameful opinion. Kind of like a hot dog. Fried chicken is like the cousin of the hot dog. Delicious. Perfect. I’ve never had fried chicken, even from the lowliest of the fast food restaurants, that wasn’t absolutely heavenly. There. I said it. My secret is out.
Point of Obscurity
A little known secret was revealed to me along the path. In 1964 Rose Rose sold Rose Lodge and moved to Florida to retire, according to her family. I found proof that Harvey Craig, Rose’s brother-in-law, was later the restaurant manager in the 1970s.
Following the breadcrumbs, I am not sure if he and his wife, Mary Celak Craig later divorced or not. I do know that Rose would retire to Port Charlotte, Florida where Mary resided. I was not able to track who this specific owner was until just recently, as Rose Lodge had already changed into an Inc. As it turns out two Omaha attorneys bought Rose Lodge in the 1964. August Ross, who had worked in foreclosures with Douglas County for sixteen years, began a private practice with Robert E. O’Connor, Jr. Later the two became co-owners of the famous Rose Lodge.
Another still from Mildred Pierce where Joan Crawford delivers the bill.
This concealed lead was one that ultimately evaded the Cassette family entirely as the newspaper never officially announced Rose’s retirement. There was another rumor that said Rose stayed on as a manager of Rose Lodge, even after she sold it—only later moving to Florida. I couldn’t be sure. But I was saddened to learn that I had probably never seen the Real Rose Rose in all of my times to the Rose Lodge. The Deeds office would prove that Rose Rose continued to own the land past 1964, so maybe she had only sold the business portion initially? Surely the new owners wanted to portray the successful Rose Lodge as business as usual. No doubt this could only mean that Rose Rose’s secret fried chicken recipe was sold with the restaurant.
For the Best how can fried chicken taste so good? 1960s ad.
Big and Little Papio Fight
Through the mid 1960s Omaha city ordinances arose which prohibited the construction of buildings along the Big and Little Papio Creeks within 150 feet of the Little Papio centerline and two hundred feet on either side of the Big Papio, arguing that it was a flood plain.
Little Papio Creek, as it currently looks just southeast of the Rose Lodge property. The Little Papio Creek, as you may recall, runs directly east along the Rose Lodge property. Rose Lodge Inc, among other companies, filed action against the City of Omaha, claiming that the ordinances were taking private property for public use without compensation and that flood control measures were already in place.
Facing west, the Rose Lodge property seen as a parking lot across the creek bed. The businesses were able to block the city from enforcing the zoning laws in their suit, stating that the laws constituted “a forerunner to condemnation.” When government seizes property from a private party, it is also called eminent domain. By 1967 the City of Omaha paid Rose Lodge $56,615 for a parcel of land for the Papio Creek flood control work.
Little Papio and the Dodge Street Bridge, as it currently looks, just north of the Rose Lodge property. I was able to verify the city buying a large parcel from Rose Lodge Inc and Rose Rose , dated 1977. Previous to that Rose Rose formally sold off a part the original Rose Lodge parcel as well as the strip adjacent to Rose Lodge Inc in May of 1967. In 1979 Rose Rose sold the “whole property” to Rose Lodge Inc. The Roses must have amassed numerous lots along this block when they lived there.
Hints of the 70s and 80s
My father wasn’t the only one who thought Rose Rose was still frying up that delectable chicken in the back kitchen deep into the 70s. Bill Gonzalez, of the Durham Museum photographic archive collection, remembered that between 1977-1978 he had a delivery route with Carpenter Paper Company. He delivered the “to-go materials” to Rose Lodge during that time period. “There was a good size gal with big forearms who would always come out of the back. I remember bloody chicken on her apron and a hairnet.” This woman would make Bill sit down and wait as she fried him up a pound of gizzards for his route. She seemed delighted that he loved those fried gizzards. He fondly recollected this familiar pattern. Later he’d drive around with those hot gizzards on the passenger seat, merrily eating as he went on with his deliveries. Not a bad deal. Who was this generous, mystery woman, if not our Rose Rose?
Yes, I considered using this title for my story. October 22, 1971
I contacted Amy Mather, one of My Omaha Obsession’s friends (operatives) at the Omaha Public Library about looking into their fabulous menu collection. Unfortunately the library does not have a Rose Lodge menu in their archives. I hope a reader will come forward with this request! I found evidence of Don Gatch managing Rose Lodge in the early 1970s. Gatch would go on to open his own old fashioned chicken eaterie at R. D. Cluckers in Miracle Hills Square.
Love at First Bite. February 23, 1973. If it is possible to gain this amount of elation, this lasting delight from the advertisements of the 1970s– Surely this warms some marketer’s heart/ esteem.
Super sale whereby Rose Lodge brought back their 1966 prices. Harvey Craig was quoted as saying some 10,000 people took advantage of these sales, lining up around the building for Rose’s famous fried chicken. Peter Citron wrote frequently about Rose Lodge during his years at the OWH.
Every Midwestern waitress and hostess from my childhood seemed to look like this in recollection. I might be wrong about that.
The End is Near
Well, if you have read so far, you are probably, from time to time, saying to yourself, “What in good heavens is all this great muddle about?” Stay with us…. as I have just said– the end is near but it is none to pleasant in my estimation.
Tip-offs pointed to Robert’s wife, Agnes O’Connor who helped to manage Rose Lodge as well Tom Ross, August’s son, in the late 70s. Although the partners openly admitted, decades later, to buying Rose Lodge for the land, they were impressed with the ever-growing restaurant business. The business continued to bring in hordes of hungry, fried chicken loving folks. Omaha couldn’t get enough and to think the restaurant was over forty years old! Rose Lodge was now employing 50+ people and bringing in about $500,000 a year. But in the summer of 1984, O’Connor and Ross got an offer they just couldn’t refuse.
Selling Off Rose Lodge
In a kind of strange agreement (although I have heard of stranger) the three acres including Rose Lodge were purchased by Children’s Hospital and traded to O’Daniel Olds-Honda for nearby land owned by O’Daniel. Mike O’Daniel already owned property at 7801 Dodge and he wanted a separate agency for its Honda franchise. Evidently he also owned two acres southeast of Farnam and Beverly Drive, which the hospital, in turn, wanted for its newly proposed day care center for children of Methodist and Children’s Hospital employees. (It appears now to be the Children’s Hospital’s Carolyn Scott Rainbow House/the Ted E. Bear Hollow organization.)
Photo from Google Map.
By November of 1984 the City Planning Board approved the rezoning propositions and the Omaha World Herald quietly announced the closing of Rose Lodge. O’Daniel Honda was built in 1986 at 123 Beverly Drive on 2.91 acres, which included Lots 2 and 3, and an “irregular part of creek.” As you can imagine, this has been a very good midtown location for O’Daniel.
O’Daniel Honda as it appears today on Beverly Drive.
A New Rose
Meanwhile, back in 1984, O’Connor and Ross held steadfast that they were looking for a new location for Rose Lodge. This never came to pass. Was it a dodge to keep those fried chicken lovers from rioting in the streets? We don’t know for sure but I do know that sometimes life gets in between one’s plans for the future. And honestly, between you and I, I do not remember Rose Lodge’s closing or any of this piffle. I was too busy investigating the back alleys of Downtown Omaha in those days.
Magically in November of 1987, the Rose opened on Highway 92 in Treynor, Iowa. Now I never knew about this savory spot but apparently it was well loved and quite popular. The Rose was owned by Judy and Don Harwick. They say Judy’s mother was a cook at the original Rose Lodge for 47 years, and Judy had also worked there for 13 years. Can you believe that? Did one of these gals serve Bill Gonzalez those fabulous gizzards he’s still raving about? Sadly I discovered at the Rose Restaurant Facebook page that they too closed in August of 2013. I wish I could have gone there!
Our Rose Rose
I found that our enigmatic Rose Rose died of natural causes in 1989 at the age of 94. Although she resided in Florida, Rose is buried in one of my favorite all-time Omaha places to rattle around, the Bohemian Cemetery at 52nd and Center.
Bohemian Cemetery. A favorite photo I took a couple of years ago.
Rose Rose’s headstone. Photo from the Find a Grave website.
Woefully I never got the true account of Rose Rose and there was so much more I wanted to know. For example was she the workhorse she appeared to be? What amused her? Did she yell out anything fantastically colorful while she grabbed at that policeman holding a gun on her husband? How did she dress? You have to know by now that these things keep me up at night. What I can imagine is that she was a very strong woman, a characteristic I much admire in my women. Rose Rose would surely enter a room of strangers with the confidence that she was just as good as any of them, no matter what titles they came up with. And I am not a seer but I sensed her fried chicken recipe was only one of many, many secrets. I imagine I will stay on the case, as I have found a case is never really closed, detective friends.
I welcome your feedback and comments on the incredible Rose Lodge, the 68th Avenue home, the Beverly Hills area and Rose and Bill Rose. Please comment below. If you would like to correspond with me privately, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me in Contact. But I assure you, everyone would love to read what you have to say and it makes the conversation more fun in Comments. You can keep up with my latest investigations by “following” myomahaobsession. You will get sent email updates every time I have written a new article. Also join My Omaha Obsession on Facebook for even more comments and stories by others in town. Thank you, Omaha friends.
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