From a series originally posted to Facebook only. Mother of Miss Cassette called these the Little Stories and she quite liked how short and fun they were. I will be working to get these uploaded onto the website, as most people don’t follow My Omaha Obsession on FB. Posted originally April 9, 2018.
I would love to tell you that while visiting my eccentric great auntie, I stumbled upon a secret passageway in her attic, which I crept through on hands and knees. But that wasn’t exactly what happened and truthbetold I haven’t found a genuine secret passageway for a number of years, although I continually look up for scuttles just to be sure. I thought I had taken five from sleuthing and had just made a pot of tea when I found something quite intriguing yesterday. I suppose I am never far from sleuthing after all.
2047 North 54th Street captured my attention, a magnificent, little French provincial style house built in 1937. Nestled in the well-knit, Country Club Neighborhood, the 2047 lot is but a hop and skip from the scrumptious rounded bookend of Grant, 54th, Country Club Avenue and 53rdStreets. Just go to that curious corner of the world, a beautiful neighborhood crossroads, and see if the air isn’t better there. So much architectural glory, what with those street lamps… and the plantings envelop…actually, you just might not be able to breathe. Neither large nor flamboyant, the humble little house at 2047 is a late 1930s ideal–a simple, well-related plan with a nod to a European exterior, minimal adornments, tasteful. I get weak in the knees when face to face with a steeply pitched, variegated, slate roof. Is there anything better than the original? And that quoin corner finish entry detailing. She is a Real Doll’s House.
Back in September of 1936, the Schroeder Realty Company filed a building permit for the lot. It was described as a brick veneer dwelling, at a cost of $4,300. Jesse L. Schroeder, home builder, was responsible for many gorgeous homes in the Happy Hollow and Country Club Districts. But the French Doll’s House had a distinct feather in her cap from her very origins.2047 North 54th Street was actually a reproduction of the “Kelvinator House,” chosen by McCall’s Magazine as their March Home of the Month. J. F. Hyde, Jr.was a local Omaha architect who worked to redesign this nationally known Kelvinator. Upon completion in 1937, the “French type” house was noted for year-round air conditioning and, in fact, held the auspicious title of being one of the first air-conditioned homes in Omaha. Hyde’s local plan followed the original as far as the kitchen, dining room, living room, vestibule and cloakroom on the main floor, three bedrooms, four closets and tile bath on the second floor. (I adore when they use the words vestibule and cloakroom.) Other savory details: the kitchen was designed for modern, electric cooking and electric refrigeration, complete with a metal milk-receiving cabinet and a clothes chute from the second floor. Dying. Hyde smartly added an attached garage, breakfast nook and enclosed porch on the ground floor with a sun deck above. The basement was said to have a utility room, a lavatory and a large room “free of pipes” which could be converted into recreation use. Years later this would be described as a “basement play room,” which, as you might remember, I am obsessed with any sort of authentic rumpus room. Mr. Schroeder intended to sell the house for less than ten thousand dollars.
These modest homes of the 1930s throughout the 1940s have my heart. They were planned with convenience, comfort and a new focus on healthy, natural ventilation, compared to that of yesteryear. Arrangements of rooms were designed for “maximum livability and ease of circulation” superseded the formal, sometimes arbitrary arrangement of rooms dictated previously. One of my favorite architectural quotes of all time, a real caution fitting with the time period: “A home poorly planned and designed will haunt the buyer so long as he retains possession.” Imagine the hauntings!
But over a full year after completion of the home, I found evidence that the Schroeders had made 2047 North 54th their family home. They must have been enticed by that new fangled air conditioning. I learned this news after Mrs. J. L. Schroeder brought home a second place prize in a local competition for her well-received Pear Torte. I have reviewed her recipe and instruction and it would appear that real butter, as in all good things, was the key to her success. Three years had passed and by the summer of 1940 Dr.and Mrs. William R. Hamsa with their sons, Billy and Charles, announced their intention to move into 2047 after their ten day holiday at a cabin in the mountains above Salt Lake. I have never known a family to move households directly after summering in the mountains but those were different days, I recognize. Dr. William Rudolph Hamsa was a well-known orthopedic doctor in town, associated with the University of Nebraska. Mrs. Hamsa was formerly Miss Anna Marie Brodegaard. If I am not mistaken, young son Billy, would go on to become Dr. William Rudolph Hamsa, Jr., also an Omaha MD in orthopedics. This was a fun family with lots of press, all the more easily to trail!
I believed the tale of 2047 had reached a tidy end, at least for our purposes when I found a bit of an unusual extension, which sent me snooping further. By July 1949 the Hamsa family decided to move again, this time to 666 North 63rd Street…but the story got better. The Hamsa clan had again picked a Schroeder-built and Schroeder-lived in residence. Apparently after Jesse Schroeder sold 2047 North 54th to the Hamsas, he built 666 North 63rd, an eight room “early American style” home with a wide entry hall and a winding staircase. Mr. Schroeder was quoted as saying, “We’ve sold seven houses we’ve built and lived in during the last 28 years.” I would like to think he was giving them a trial run—each apparently lasted about four years.
Enjoy these real estate interiors of 2047 North 54th Street and get a load of those living room details—the gnome like fireplace and the almost whimsical 1920s wrought iron stair railing.almost whimsical 1920s wrought iron stair railing. https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/2047-N-54th-St_Omaha_NE_68104_M75557-75345
I welcome your feedback and comments on this wonderful home in the Country Club Neighborhood. Please share your additional clues to the story in the “Comments,” as we know more together. Everyone would love to read what you have to say and it makes the sharing of Omaha history more fun. We want to hear from you. You can keep up with my latest investigations by joining my email group. Click on“Contact” then look for “Sign me up for the Newsletter!” Enter your email address. You will get sent email updates every time I have written a new article. Also feel free to join My Omaha Obsession on Facebook. Thank you, Omaha friends. Miss Cassette
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