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Jim McKee: The history of a Lincoln loading dock
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Jim McKee: The history of a Lincoln loading dock

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The Salvation Army Building on the northeast corner of 11th and Q streets is shown here when it was occupied by the Knights of Pythias and a few weeks before the entire block was razed for the construction of the Lied Center for Performing Arts. 

What is today little more than the loading dock for the Lied Center for Performing Arts was the site of a number of interesting and varied buildings from a school, jail, houses, the Salvation Army and a fraternal society. Perhaps one of the most interesting structures was still standing in the early 1980s, originally built in 1867.

A fire in the uncompleted Methodist Protestant Seminary on the northeast corner of Ninth and P streets ended the brief existence of a subscription grade school, the first school in the city of Lincoln. The city immediately began plans for a purpose-built, two-story, stone, 22 by 30 foot district school which would face south, located north of the northeast corner of 11th and Q streets on the east/west alley of Block 27 which is bounded by 11th, 12th, Q and R streets. The building was completed in November of 1867, a potluck dinner in aid of its construction on Dec. 19 raised $85 and the school opened in January of 1868.

In 1870 Lincoln’s only jail was Milt Landgon’s milk shed on the west side of Ninth Street between P and Q streets until $15 was paid to councilman Sherwood for the rent of a “room” for a jail. By 1873 another new school had been built on the southwest corner of 10th and Q allowing City Marshall Brad Ringer to acquire the “stone school” at 11th and Q for use as a true jail. Four years later the city building on the northwest corner of 10th and Q, which contained a proper jail, was completed and the old school/jail’s address was clarified as being at 320 N. 11th St.

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By 1884 the lots south of the old school/jail, basically the northeast corner of 11th and Q, became the site of two houses while 1110-14 11th St., east of the corner, was an apartment building.

In 1871 the Baptist Church completed their building on land given to them by the Nebraska Capital Commission. When the small building was outgrown, the Baptists acquired lots on the northwest corner of 14th and K Streets in 1887, selling the original building to the just-arrived Salvation Army. In 1890 the Salvation Army advertised their new home in the “old Baptist Church” with services nightly at 8 PM and three services on Sunday, all “seats free.” In 1918 the Salvation Army showed its “Social and Industrial” functions at 2011 O Street while their meeting hall was at 1601-03 O St. which it interestingly shared with the Imperial Candy Kitchen.

In 1928 the two houses on the northeast corner of 11th and Q were still being lived in as the Salvation Army moved into the old school/jail just to their north, which was also noted as just south of the University School of Music, later the site of Kimball Recital Hall. Apparently the two houses were purchased at the same time as the school/jail and in 1930 both were listed as vacant in the city directory, which shows the Salvation Army and “industrial store” at 320 North 11th. The building pictured above is noted as being built in 1939 on the Sanborn Fire Map and shows being connected to the old school/jail via their basements and upper floors.

In 1966, not too long before the above photo, the Salvation Army Citadel Church was listed on the corner of 11th and Q, then to the east was State Printing, a six-apartment building and just barely visible to the right is University Publishing and School Supply.

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Also, in 1966 Bruce Schlaebitz designed a new Salvation Army building on the southwest corner of Eighth and P streets which replaced the 1885 Tremont House Hotel which had, through the years, become the office for Grainger Brothers wholesale grocery, which itself had grown and absorbed its neighbors before outgrowing and leaving the area. When the Salvation Army moved into its new building their old structure at 11th and Q was put up for sale.

In 1964 the Knights of Pythias, a non-sectarian, fraternal and secret society was founded in Washington, D.C., and became the first fraternal organization to have a charter approved by an act of Congress. The Knights of Pythias formed in Omaha in 1869 and Lincoln Lodge No. 1 was established with 32 members in 1873, meeting at their hall on the southeast corner of 10th and O streets. After several moves, the Knights settled at 1024 P St. and opened a second lodge at 4719½ Prescott in College View. When the Salvation Army moved to their new store at Eighth and P, their former 11th and Q hall was obtained by the Knights of Pythias.

The Salvation Army also maintained a retail store near the northwest corner of 12th and Q until the entire block, including the original school/jail, was razed for the present Lied Center for Performing Arts in the late 1980s. Today the Salvation Army’s chapel and headquarters are at 2625 Potter with a store at 4690 Leighton, while the Knights of Pythias is no longer in the phone book and presumably no longer in Lincoln.

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Historian Jim McKee, who still writes with a fountain pen, invites comments or questions. Write to him in care of the Journal Star or at


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