Early Omaha: Gateway to the West

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20th & Dodge
nw from 18th & Farnam

The Nebraska State Legislature gave the old territorial capitol building on February 4, 1869, to the city in exchange for the $60,000 Omahans contributed to build the structure. The property could only be used for educational purposes according to the terms of the donation. In May of 1869, a Chicago architect, Mr. G.R Randall declared the building unsafe and recommended construction of a new one. The new Omaha High School was completed in 1872 at a cost of $225,000.

20th & Dodge; West on Capitol Ave. from 16th

The new building took into account the future needs of Omaha and so was built much larger. For 15 years after construction, grade school classes for “Central School” were held in the building. In 1887, the population of high school students began to increase and two grades were moved to other locations. A new site was purchased on the south side of Dodge for the elementary school in 1891. The new location was opposite the southwest corner of Omaha High at 22nd & Dodge.

Omaha High

The student population again surpassed the space the building provided. A new high school was built in 1911 at a cost of $848,045 and was considered one of the “finest school buildings in the country.”

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