Jim McKee: Lincoln’s founding block has a long and varied history | Nebraska News

JIM McKEE for Lincoln Journal Star

As anyone driving on P, Q, Ninth or 10th Street in downtown Lincoln in December 2021 or January 2022 can attest, the more than half a block once occupied by the Lincoln Journal Star is nearly empty. That leaves most of what the Nebraska State Historical Society monument on the north side of the parking lot calls Lincoln’s founding block being prepared for construction of a high-rise apartment complex. Apart from the newspaper’s home, what gave the block its historic designation?

When Nebraska became a United States territory in 1854, the entire area was mapped, becoming Lancaster County Section 23. The land that would eventually become part of Lincoln was identified by Julian Metcalf in January 1863 and purchased by him with a military bounty warrant on May 10, 1864. That same year Jacob Dawson placed the town of Lancaster with Locust, now O Street , as the eastern boundary, each block containing eight lots and one square block each designated as Seminary Square and Courthouse Square.

In 1864-1865, the Methodists built their two-story, 30-by-50-foot red sandstone seminary on the northeast corner of Sixth and High, which would become roughly Ninth and P when Lincoln was plated on the city. of Lancaster in 1867. Practically a year before Lincoln was named and the state of Nebraska occurred, the town of Lancaster would have “a seminary, four dwellings, a store, and a blacksmith’s shop”, with a population of about 30 people.

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After briefly serving as a school, the seminary building was converted to the Cadman House Hotel in 1867 and later expanded as Atwood House, then razed in 1881, becoming the second home of the Nebraska Commonwealth, eventually the Lincoln Journal Star.

Additionally, just before Lancaster became Lincoln, two more businesses were built on the block. SB Galey built a small store on P Street near 10th, while Robert Monteith and his son John erected a shoe store at 922 P. The rest of Block 34, Section 23 eventually housed a variety of buildings and companies often overlooked.

Before the seminary building became a hotel, LA Scoggin built the Pioneer House Hotel on the southeast corner of Ninth and Q, just north of the seminary, making it “Lincoln’s first hotel”. Before long, Scoggin “mysteriously left and was not heard from”. The hotel, although existing in 1872, burned down soon after.

The seminary association gave a deed of quit to its ownership to the state on August 1, 1867, which resulted in the state auctioning off Lincoln lots to help fund the new state and its many functions, including the capital, the university, the penitentiary and the lunatic asylum. .

In the first auction, eight buyers bought 18 lots in Block 34, paying between $85 and $200 each. In 1873, the original buildings were joined by Gulick’s Bakery, Keefer & Lindley Agricultural Implements, and First National, which stood on the southeast corner of the block.

In 1867 the Reverend Robert Hawks formed “a Methodist class at Lincoln with 16 members”. The following spring the class became a station and was named First ME Church of Lincoln, which erected a small frame building at the northeast corner of Block 34. After Reverend Davis assumed the pastorate, the building then become too small was sold. to the city to serve as a school for $400 and the Methodists built on M Street where the state gave them land.

In 1881, the year the seminary was razed for the Nebraska Commonwealth site, another hotel, the Valley House, opened on the north side of P Street between Ninth and Tenth.

In 1890 the Q Street side of Block 34 housed Lewis Carriage, Lewis Hardware and two rooming houses. The side of the North 10th Street block housed three variations of clothiers, a hardware store, a billiard parlor, two commercial blocks, and a residence. The P Street side housed the law office of Pound & Robinson, where a Nebraska Commonwealth edition was published before moving to the southwest corner of Ninth and O; a bakery, nearly 10 retail outlets, a hotel and the Jewish Synagogue. Along Ninth Street, the block housed seven businesses, a hotel, a house, and the Hurlbut building.

In 1950, as businesses prospered and grew larger, the Ninth Street side held OM Anderson Co., Pegler’s Restaurant Supply, and Sam’s Poultry. P Street had the Tillman’s restaurant and three stores, but most addresses were listed as vacant. Q Street tenants included a sheet metal shop and two auto repair businesses, while 10th Street had only a few federal and state offices. In 1960, as the paper began to expand, only nine businesses besides the paper occupied the block, which by 1975 held only the Greyhound/Union Bus Depot, a Goodwill Store, Pegler’s, the sheet metal fabricator and the office from a US Postal. Inspector.

Today, although Lancaster’s original town flat still sits unoccupied under Lincoln’s footprint, the town’s parking lot and a small bank sit alone on the block, awaiting development of the 13-story, 321-unit apartment complex from Trinitas Ventures. coming in a few months.

Historian Jim McKee, who always writes with a fountain pen, invites comments or questions. Write to him care of Journal Star or [email protected]

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