We set out to discover Omaha’s oldest home and we think we found it, and some really fascinating history along the way. Let’s take this tour together!
Most people in Omaha know that we call certain areas Benson, Dundee, Florence, Ralston, etc. by those names because at one time in the past, they were individual towns.
We’ll save the backstory of Benson, Dundee, and Ralston for another day, but let’s talk about Florence. Did you know that Florence was named after a woman? That is not usually the case in most places. You go, Miss Florence Kilbourn! The village of Florence came after the Mormons (Latter Day Saints) settled in the region as a winter quarters, permission given by the U.S. Government, on their journey from Illinois to Utah in 1846, named Cutler’s Park. At this time, the land was Native American territory in which they had to seek permission (and toleration) from the Government as well as the native nations. We use the word toleration very loosely here for so many reasons.
Many people have driven by the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery, which holds nearly 16% of the Cutler’s Park pioneers. Extreme weather knocked out a large portion of this two-year-old community, so they left the village in 1848. The town was platted and renamed to Florence in 1854.
As the town of Florence struggled to gain notoriety as a city, settlers were moving in and staking land. Thus, gets us to our discovery of one of Omaha’s oldest homes, built in 1859 at a mere 800 square feet. Sitting at 162 years young, you can find this home at 8631 North 31st Street. It is a humble little cottage with a large yard, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a shared space for the kitchen, dining room, and living room. This does not seem like much space to us now, but at the time, 800 square feet with a roof, windows, private bedrooms, doors, and more was quite enough.
We encourage you to go visit Florence to see one of Omaha’s oldest communities for yourself! Snap a photo of your exploration and tag @OldOmaha!
– National Register of Historic Places, Omaha, Nebraska, Listings