I love how life can occasionally be serendipitous in such ridiculously meaningless ways. Several months back, I responded to a Craigslist for sale ad for a large, old photo. The guy said he had no idea what the building was but that he had bought it from an estate sale in Fremont, NE. He assumed that it was located there even though the photographer’s info was Omaha. I joked with him that it was probably an old house converted into a hospital since people in suits and white outfits were in the photo.
When I got home, I did a deep scan of the photo and noticed that there was a sign on the front porch. I could read “Swedish” but it took my son to confirm that the second word was “Hospital.” So now I knew it was the Swedish Hospital. I then assumed it was in Omaha.
A quick Google search turned up this postcard photo. Indeed this was the place! Now I knew that it was at 24th and Pratt. A little more digging revealed that the Swedish Mission Hospital became Evangelical Covenant Hospital. At some point the old structure was demolished and a large brick structure replaced it in the early 1930′s. But by 1937, the hospital was bankrupt and closed. At some point, that building was demolished. The lot today contains a Salvation Army store.
It was obvious to me that the hospital was really an old Italianate house that had a 3rd story added on; the mortar was a different color and the proportions were all off. I was singularly impressed with the quality of the cornice that they put up during the remodel. (Note the height of the porch. Assuming that the men standing there are six feet tall, possible but unlikely in those days, that stupid porch must have been enormous!)
I wondered who originally lived there. Was it some corporate big-wig from Omaha with a country home? At the time the house would have been built, this part of Omaha would have been out in the boonies… Or was it the home of a well-to-do farmer?
Oddly enough, this past weekend while doing research for an eBay purchase, I happened across an eBook version of:
A HISTORY OF THE PIONEER PERIOD and the Omaha of Today
D. C. DUNBAR & CO., PUBLISHERS
While perusing the images of old buildings and homes, I just happened to stumble across an image of “my” home. Its form was unmistakable; I couldn’t imagine that two homes in Omaha looked that identical.