Lancaster County is getting ready to sell one of its old, but lovely, WPA-era maintenance buildings.
The limestone maintenance building in Hickman, with wooden bay doors and gutters, will likely be up for sale this spring or summer.
It was built in the late 1930s by the Works Progress Administration as part of the Depression-era federal program intended to rejuvenate the local economy, giving people jobs and income.
These were labor-intensive jobs, using locally available materials, so limestone is often seen in WPA buildings in Nebraska.
Hickman leaders believe the building is an eyesore and have been encouraging County Engineer Pam Dingman to turn over the property for several years, Dingman said.
There could be a better use for the property or the structure, said Silas Clarke, Hickman city administrator.
There has been community discussion for at least five years about finding a better use for that property, which sits between a Norris Public Power District substation on the east and trees to the west, and faces Hickman Road just west of the 68th Street intersection.
The building could be repurposed, but there are no facilities in the structure. In fact, no water or sewer lines run to the building, he said.
The 16,000-square-foot building, on about one-third of an acre of land and appraised at about $55,000, will be run through the official surplus property process. After a public hearing, the County Board can declare the property surplus, set a value on the property, then hold a public auction.
If bids are substantially lower than fair market value, the board can then negotiate a sale “in the best interests of the county,” explained Kerry Eagan, chief administrative officer for the County Board.
The county has five of these WPA-era maintenance buildings — in Hickman, Bennet, Waverly, Hallam and on West Burnam Street in southwest Lincoln, plus one in Sprague that has some “hodgepodge” additions to it, according to Dingman.
There were more of the shops in the past, in College View, on North 70th Street and in Raymond, she said.
Back in the horse-and-buggy days, superintendents actually lived in some of the older wooden buildings, but the WPA shops were built solely as maintenance buildings, she said.
Dingman has mixed feelings about losing the historic maintenance building. She loves historic buildings and believes “we should preserve our history the best we can."
“That doesn’t mean we should save everything, but we should try to save some things.”
“It’s neat historically, but it is really difficult to maintain,” Dingman said of the limestone building.
There has been discussion about trying to save the building, or at least save the limestone, which came from the Roca limestone quarry.
That quarry ran out of rock in the 1970s but is still used by the county engineer for storing rock piles and other supplies, Dingman said.
None of the buildings are specifically identified in state documents covering Depression-era work relief projects.
However, county highway departments in several Nebraska counties built small buildings for housing road-maintenance equipment and snowplows and as storage for highway patrol units, according to some of the documents from the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Local historian Ed Zimmer thinks the buildings have some historic significance for demonstrating the wide reach of the county infrastructure in the early automotive days and for federal work-relief projects. However, the historical value is often compromised by later alterations, he said.
Other towns are also talking about getting rid of the limestone county maintenance shops in their midst. Waverly, where there is also a salt dome, is considering paving Old Field Drive in front of the building and asked if the county would give it that property so it could put it to a different use.
Dingman said she’s heard rumors that Bennet has concerns about its maintenance shop.
In a discussion about the WPA-era buildings, Lancaster County commissioners also had mixed feelings.
Commissioner Todd Wiltgen said he thought the buildings have become eyesores and had little historic significance. But Commissioner Roma Amundson said “they are neat old buildings.”
Lincoln buildings that have made history
Built in 1922 as a mixed use (commercial and apartment) building, the two-story brick and stucco structure at 2406 J St. incorporates architectural elements common to period houses. The Lincoln architectural firm of Fiske and Meginnis designed the building to be compatible with the surrounding Lincoln residential neighborhood.
The Security Mutual Life Building, a 10-story skyscraper at 1206 O St., is a unique product of early 20th century businesses on 0 Street, Lincoln's main thoroughfare. Occupying the former site of the Burr block, the structure was substantially rebuilt and transformed into the present Security Mutual Life Building in 1916. For over four decades the building housed offices for the Security Mutual Life Insurance Co. It is now known as Centerstone and houses commercial and rental residential space.
Christian Record building
The Christian Record Building, 3705 S. 48th St., is located in the College View neighborhood of Lincoln, near the campus of Union College. The two-story brick-and-limestone structure, erected in 1936, displays elements of the art deco style. It was designed and built by local contractor Felix A. Lorenz, a graduate of Union College. The Christian Record Association was founded in 1899 in Battle Creek, Michigan, with support from the Seventh-Day Adventist General Conference. In 1900, the association began publishing The Christian Record, the oldest continuously published Braille periodical in the United States. The association later relocated in Lincoln. The Christian Record Building is the only remaining historic structure associated with the organization.
College View Public Library
The building at 3800 S. 48th St. reflects the state of the art in design and use for library buildings erected in smaller communities during the first two decades of the 20th century. Designed in a simplified Neo-Classical Revival style, the library was constructed in 1914 in the town of College View (now a neighborhood in southeast Lincoln) with funds from an Andrew Carnegie grant.
Federal Trust Building
Constructed in 1926-1927, this 12-story office building at 134 S. 13th St. is a reinforced concrete structure designed in the Gothic Revival style. Its primary facades are faced in light buff-colored brick with limestone and terra cotta trim, while the secondary sides are sheathed mainly in red-orange brick.
First National Bank Building
The First National Bank Building at 1001 O St., constructed in 1910-11, is significant for its association with the First National Bank, a financial institution that was influential in the development of the city of Lincoln. The building also has architectural significance as a representative example constructed in the Commercial-style.
First State Bank of Bethany
The former bank, built about 1914 in the town of Bethany (now a neighborhood in northeast Lincoln), is a one-story brick building at 1551 N. Cotner Blvd. with simple Neo-Classical Revival trim. It is the most substantial commercial building remaining from the period before Bethany's annexation by Lincoln in 1926. The bank was founded in 1904 with C. W. Fuller, a Bethany grain elevator owner, as president. The bank failed in 1930. The building has since served various educational and commercial purposes.
Gold and Co. store building
William Gold, a native of New York, established "The Peoples' Store," a modest retail business, in 1902. The firm was incorporated in 1915 with William Gold as president and son Nathan as vice president and was later renamed "Gold and Company." The building at 1033 O St. is a landmark in Lincoln's downtown business area. The oldest section, erected in 1924, is six stories high and displays Gothic Revival detailing. Additions were made in 1929, 1947, and 1951 and illustrate the phenomenal growth experienced by the store. In 1964 Gold and Company merged with Omaha's J.L. Brandeis and Sons, and the business was named "Brandeis, Gold's Division" until 1980, when the store was closed. The building has been rehabilitated for retail and office space.
The Nebraska Governor's Mansion, 1425 H St., is significant for the history of its construction and the notion that Nebraska and its people deserved a grand building dedicated to the residence of the state's executive officer, the governor. Prior to the construction of this building, governors had received a stipend from the Legislature that paid for their living expenses, or, after 1899, lived in the governor's mansion that the Legislature purchased from its previous owner at 14th and H in Lincoln, near the State Capitol.
Hayward School, 1215 N. Ninth St., was built in 1903-04, with additions completed in 1913 and 1925. Each building phase displays a distinct style of public school architecture. The original school is at the center of the present structure and was designed by architect James H. Craddock, with Late Renaissance Revival detailing. The two additions display Neo-Classical and Georgian Revival elements and are the work of the Lincoln architectural firms of Davis and Berlinghof, and Fiske, Meginnis and Schaumberg respectively. Named for U.S. Sen. Monroe L. Hayward, the school served the German Russian community in the North Bottoms area of Lincoln. It operated a special program from November to May when the "beet field children" returned from working in the sugar beet fields of western Nebraska.
Hotel Capital-YMCA building
The Hotel Capital at 139 N. 11th St. opened on May 19, 1926, and provided hotel accommodations in downtown Lincoln for more than four decades. In 1962, Bennett S. Martin purchased the hotel and donated it to the Lincoln YMCA. The 11-story brick building is an outstanding product of the Georgian Revival style and is probably the best remaining example of an early 20th century hotel building in Lincoln's central business district. The upper floors of the building have been rehabilitated as rental residential units; lower levels still house the YMCA offices.
Lincoln Army Air Field Regimental Chapel
The Lincoln Army Air Field Regimental Chapel at 4601 N.W. 48th St. was constructed in May 1942. The building is significant for its association with the World War II Lincoln Army Air Field. It is also significant as a good representation of building technology used in World War II.
Lincoln Liberty building
The building at 113 N. 11th St. in downtown Lincoln was constructed in 1907-08 as the five-story Little Building and then redesigned in 1936 for the Lincoln Liberty Life Insurance Co. by the architectural firm of Meginnis and Schaumberg. The remodeling, which included the addition of a sixth floor, transformed the building into a prominent Art Deco-style structure.
Designed by the Lincoln architectural firm of Meginnis and Schaumberg, the Masonic Temple at 1635 L St. is an excellent example of the union of art and architecture. A restrained Art Deco style is seen in the cubic massing and geometric décor of the building. Locally renowned artist Elizabeth Honor Dolan worked on the architectural character and form of the building's interior, creating a series of nine related murals in the meeting hall. The bas-relief sculpture above the main entrance to the Masonic Temple was also based on a sketch by Dolan.
Municipal Lighting and Waterworks Plant
The A Street Power and Water Station, a flat-roofed structure of red brick with stone and brick trim, is an industrial building at 2901 A St. designed in the Neo-Classical Revival style by Fiske and Meginnis, a local partnership especially active in municipal architecture in the 1920s. In 1904, Lincoln voters authorized a municipal electric plant to pump water and light streets. It was located near the well on A Street. In 1913 the city authorized sale of power to consumers, much enlarging the kilowatt capacity of the A Street plant.
In the spring of 1921 the city council voted to build a new combined pumping station and powerhouse, with a substantial increase in generating capacity. The current building was constructed in 1921-22 after the approval of bond issues for water system and municipal lighting improvements. It has been rehabilitated as residential units.
Nebraska State Historical Society building
Constructed in 1953, the Nebraska State Historical Society building, 1500 R St., is significant for its contribution to the social and cultural history of Nebraska through the acquisition, conservation and interpretation of Nebraska's cultural heritage and through the administration of public policy related to these activities. The building is also significant as a good example of the Modern Movement style of architecture.
Nebraska Telephone Co. building
The three-story Nebraska Telephone Co. commercial building, 128-130 S. 13th St., was designed in the Renaissance Revival style in 1894 by Thomas Rogers Kimball of the architectural firm of Walker and Kimball. Occupied in 1896, it was probably the first building erected as a telephone exchange in Lincoln. Constructed to sustain the loads of the telephone equipment and to provide a modern, fire-resistant structure, the building is an early product of the communications industry in eastern Nebraska.
Nebraska Wesleyan Old Main
The three-story Richardsonian Romanesque structure, 50th and St. Paul, was constructed as the main building for the Nebraska Wesleyan University campus in 1887-88. It was designed by architects Gibbs and Parker of Kansas City. "Old Main" is a campus landmark, reflecting the early history of the Lincoln-based university.
Old University Library
The Old University Library at 11th and R streets, constructed 1891-95, is the oldest existing building on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's downtown campus. Designed by the architectural firm of Mendelssohn, Fisher and Lawrie of Omaha, the two-and-one-half-story brick building incorporates Richardsonian Romanesque styling in its design. The library has been adapted to a variety of educational functions.
Palisade and Regent apartments
The Palisade, 1035 S. 17th St., and Regent Apartments, 1626 D St., are significant as representative examples of large and ornate apartments built at the end of Lincoln's second historic apartment "boom," which occurred during the 1920s. The buildings are also significant for their use of a richly textured, polychromatic terra cotta block, which was a rare building material in Lincoln, used only in 1928 and 1929, which corresponds with the buildings' construction dates.
Rose Kirkwood Brothel
The existence of a red-light district of Lincoln is one that is often ignored, with only minimal physical remnants remaining, the Rose Kirkwood Brothel being the key physical remnant. When the Peoples City Mission opened in 1910, Lincoln's most flagrant brothel transformed into a place of charity, sealing the demise of Lincoln's red-light district.
As a brothel, the building embodies the illicit political and social values of the early 1900s, while as the Peoples City Mission, it symbolizes Lincoln's effort to promote social welfare by serving the poor and immigrant community. As one building serving both ends of the moral spectrum -- vice and charity -- the Rose Kirkwood Brothel building represents a key transformation in Lincoln's social history.
President and Ambassador apartments
The President and Ambassador Apartments, 1330 and 1340 Lincoln Mall, are a pair of five-story, flat-roofed apartment buildings. They were constructed in 1928-29 of reinforced concrete with red brick veneer and limestone trim. They are outstanding examples of the final stage of historic apartment construction in Lincoln. They are very prominently sited adjacent to the State Capitol and possess a high degree of integrity.
The Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church and its parsonage, 1225 S. Ninth St., are significant for their association with African-American ethnic history in the city, as the continuing home of the first African-American church established in Lincoln and for the church's broad-based contribution to the community.
Rock Island Depot
The Lincoln depot, 1944 O St., is one of Nebraska's finest remaining 19th century railroad depots and an excellent example of the Chateauesque style. Few exterior alterations have occurred since the depot's construction in 1892-93. The building has been adapted for commercial uses in recent years.
St. Charles Apartments
When St. Charles Apartments, 4717 Baldwin Ave., was built in 1923-24, University Place was an incorporated town with a population of about 5,000. Universitv Place was annexed by Lincoln in 1926. St. Charles was designed to accommodate 16 dwelling units and was the first brick apartment house built in University Place and the only one erected before annexation. The building, which incorporates Neo-Classical Revival motifs, was constructed by William Henry Seng, a major contractor in the University Place area during the 1920s and 1930s.
Scottish Rite Temple
Lincoln's Scottish Rite Temple, 332 Centennial Mall South, is a reinforced concrete, Neo-Classical Revival-style building sheathed in Indiana limestone. The temple's most prominent feature is a colossal order of 10 Roman Doric columns on the front facade. On April 6, 1916, Lincoln's Delta Lodge of Perfection No. 4 voted to build a new Scottish Rite Temple. The building was designed by Ellery L. Davis, Lincoln's leading architect in the first half of the 20th century. When the temple was constructed, there were 17 Masonic organizations in the city.
Sheldon Museum of Art
The Sheldon Museum of Art is located on the downtown campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City Campus at 12th and R streets. Sheldon was designed and built for the express use as a museum of art and associated sculpture garden to house the more than 12,000 works of American art and sculpture attained through the University of Nebraska art collection as well as the collection of the Sheldon Art Association, formerly known as the Hayden Art Club, founded in 1888.
Sheldon is a work of master architect Philip Johnson and reflects the era of Modern architecture with New Formalism styling.
The State Arsenal, built in 1913 at 17th and Court streets, was the first permanent facility provided by the Nebraska Legislature for support of the Nebraska National Guard, successor to the Nebraska Volunteer Militia. The two-story, rectangular concrete-and-brick building was used by the guard as a warehouse until 1963, when it was transferred to the state fair board. Today the building serves as a museum.
The Capitol, 1445 K St., was constructed in 1922-32 and was designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, one of America's foremost architects. The structure evolved through an elaborate competition that was widely publicized in journals and newspapers. Goodhue's design incorporated a 400-foot tower as the major architectural feature, producing a modernistic skyscraper. The building is rich in decorative art and symbolism and demonstrates the skills of sculptor Lee Lawrie and Hartley Burr Alexander, a professor of philosophy at the University of Nebraska. The Capitol is internationally recognized as a building of outstanding architectural distinction.
The Stuart Building is located in downtown Lincoln at 13th and P streets. This architecturally significant building was designed in a hybrid Art Deco-Gothic Revival style by the leading architectural firm of the period, Davis and Wilson. Completed in 1929, the Stuart was one of Lincoln's most prestigious multipurpose office buildings of its time.
Temple of Congregation B'Nai Jeshuran
The Temple, 20th and South streets, exemplifies the early 20th century eclectic architecture of temple building types and incorporates Byzantine and Moorish design elements in its ornamentation and general massing. The large brick structure, designed by Lincoln architects Davis and Wilson and built in 1923-24, features a prominent central octagonally-shaped dome that rises above the roof line. It continues in use as a synagogue.
The 10-story reinforced concrete office building, 947 O St., is sheathed in white-glazed terra-cotta on the principal facades above the storefront level, while the remaining facades are faced with brick. The building was planned in 1915 and erected in 1916 as headquarters for the Lincoln Traction Company. The Lincoln Traction Company, formed in 1897 as a reorganization of the Lincoln Street Railway Company, was the major street railway company in the city from 1909 until the end of streetcar service in 1943. Designed by architect Paul V. Hyland of Chicago, the Terminal Building is the city's best example of a Commercial-style office building.
Three buildings, Barr Terrace, Lyman Terrace, and Helmer-Winnett-White Flats, on 11th Street, H and K streets, are the only remaining 19th-century terrace or row houses in Lincoln. The major period of interest in the terrace house as a building type occurred in the city in the late 1880s and 1890s. Row houses were typically built by individuals seeking a maximum number of rents per land unit.
Tifereth Israel Synagogue
The former Tifereth Israel Synagogue, 344 S. 18th St., is a fine example of Neo-Classicism as used in small-scaled synagogue architecture in the early 20th century. Located in Lincoln, the building is easily recognizable as a Jewish house of worship by the prominent Star of David on the front facade. The Tifereth Israel Synagogue was dedicated on May 25, 1913, and served the Orthodox Jewish congregation until the late 1950s, when a new synagogue was built.
U.S. Post Office
The building at 920 O St. was constructed in 1874-79 incorporating Gothic Revival and French Second Empire-style elements in its design. Originally designed by Alfred Mullett, supervising architect of the United States Treasury, the building was redesigned by William Potter, who replaced Mullett in 1875. The limestone structure is one of downtown Lincoln's oldest buildings and perhaps its finest remaining example of 19th century architecture. Originally built as Lincoln's United States Post Office and Courthouse, the building later served as the City Hall. In 1978, restoration began, and the building is now being used by civic groups.
The Veith Building, 816 P St., is one of the oldest commercial buildings in Lincoln and is an outstanding example of late 19th century commercial architecture. Constructed in 1884 as a grocery by the Veith family, it features excellent cast iron and pressed metal detailing.
Woods Brothers Building
The Woods Brothers Companies, which were formed in 1889 by Mark, George and Frank Woods, played a major role in the real estate development of the city. Many of the first Lincoln neighborhoods, including Lincolnshire, were platted, developed and sold by the Woods Brothers Companies.
Designed in 1914 by the Woods Brothers Construction Co. and completed in 1916, the building at 132 S. 13th St. incorporates Neo-Classical Revival elements. It was the home office of the Woods Brothers Companies until 1939.
The Young Women's Christian Association of Lincoln was organized in 1886, incorporated under Nebraska law in 1893 and chartered as a member of the YWCA National Board in 1897. The Georgian Revival building at 1432 N St. was completed in 1932 on the site of the original facility. The three-story, H-shaped building is brick with limestone trim and was designed by the Lincoln architectural firm of Meginnis and Schaumberg.