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Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, February 28, 1915, HOTEL FONTENELLE, Image 45

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1915-02-28/ed-1/seq-45/

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ttth Omaha ju'xdav r.r,K: n-.nmrAr.v 28, 1915. ;c
If S At I L. X' II a ri . n . M a.
v iuw ui umuiia irom r resent site ol Hotel iontenelle Thirty Years Ago
tuay city Ivlnn as II wrrc at on a fet I are rushlns; to and from Omaha, tha tlate
and takra In the dltaant Missouri wend city. The view arrnis enrllrss In Ha e
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ti'nir it ------
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ZastmZou$ls Street from 28 2
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Inc nay in Ilia rat Mar of Watrra. ranna. Scorr or annara mllaa ar lai.l nur vlw In all
.Arid over hrvKtid to Iha frrUla low a. , l Mrd'- a t. tho urJt at tho Fon- i vantao of Ihr Kontin-ll
allpv with Ihr Muffa hryoml. Tlti tanallp. Thrra la probnhly notMna; ti i Ing a bonna ovrr in l at
atiraka r strain luw- wliri-a awll't trains equal It ainwlipra In tlip t'nltatl ftatpa. icpnt rtlvldonil.
Of emirap, miral don't atop at It hotel
marpljr for tha view. Hut whan auch a.
flrat-rl.isa ad
it la llkn pay-
wye a. 12 per
Fontenelle Corner, Now Worth a
Million, Was 'Tar Out" Fifty '
Years Ago.
The alte of a cow stable, far remote, In
the outklrts of a frontier country village
fifty years ago: today the location of
Omaha's $1,000,000 modern and ' palatial
hotel. In close proximity to the butlnesa
lieart of a city that ia reaching on close
to a population of 200,000 persona Is some
thing of a stretch of Imagination. Such,
however, Is the case with reference to the
ground on which Is located the Fon
tenelle hotel.
This land was a portion of the original
plat of the city of Omaha, but for years
it was looked upon as being so far out
In the country that it never would it be
desirable for purposes other than truck
gardening, or poultry raining. In the
Ws, Thomas B. Cummins, territorial gov
ernor, bought practically all of the south
half of the block and on that portion on
Eighteenth street, north of the alley and
close to Dodgo street, erected an un
pretentious cottage, where he resided for
several years.
Vaed Cow raatnre.
That portion of the ground now oc
cupied by the hotel proper. Governor
Cummins used as a cow pasture for a
couple of years, after which ho plowed
It up and set It out to fruit trees and
shrubbery. Upon his death it passed to
his widow and until sold to Arthur P.
Brandets and John I. Kennedy, the title
remained In Mrs. Cummins, or the
llamlltons, relatives.
The portion cf the Fontenelle hotel
site, now occupied by the annex, facing
Douglas street for years was the site
7 of the Oscar F, Davis home, a large
frame structure and in its time was
' looked upon as one of Omaha's best
Charles W. Hamilton of the Merchants
Rational bank Is one of the Omaha men
-who calls to mind much of the history
In connection with the site of the Fon
tenelle hotel. Mr. Hamilton and his
brother, Frank T. Hamilton were both
born In a horn occupied by their father
and located north of the block on which
the hotel stands. Being relatives of
Governor and Mrs. Cummins they were
at their home frequently and the old
orchard that is now tlo site of the hotel
''Was one of the favorite playgrounds for
themselves and the neighbor boys.
Mr. Hamilton calls to mind that for a
number of years while Governor and Mrs.
Cummins lived In the little cottage tlicy
had a cow and horse barn on the back
end of the north lot on which the hotel
in loci ted. There they and tha other
boys of suburban Omaha hunted eggs,
played hide-and-seek and enjoyed them
selves as only young boys could.
In the old days when Omaha was In
Its swaddling clothes, tha site of tha Cum
mins home was tho most beautiful that
could be found In miles around. It was
thirty to forty feet higher than the
present street level and as there wera
but few buildings on the east, between
there and Thirteenth street, it com
manded a tnagniflcant view. From the
front yard could be seen the Missouri
river and the steamboat landing In the
vicinity of the foot of Douglaa etreet
Both up and down the river, as far as
the eye could see was a broad expanse
of vacant prairie and woodland, dotted
her and there with tha cottages of
pioneers who had gone out Into tha wilds
to establish homes.
To tha west there were a few scat
tering houses along Nineteenth and
Twentieth streets, as far south as Leav
enworth and as far north as Cuming
street. Beyond there was nothing but a
vast uninhabited wiWerness, tha home of
wild animals and Indians.
Clr Morea West.
fn the condition described the site of
the Fonetenelle hotel remained until
well along In the '60s and until the trend
of settlement had started west and
reached tha portion of the city to the
south and west of the high school
However, Improvements did move very
rapidly in the. vicinity of Eighteenth and
Douglas streets. Beginning just west of
Seventeenth, there was a barrier on Doug
laa street This, was a steep hill, one up
which loaded wagons could hardly climb
and, in fact, It was too steep for pedes
trians unless they sought to make a
wearysome journey by making a short
cu .
Aa time moved on it became necessary
to improve Douglas street from Sixteenth
west. The first cut left tha houses in and
around Eighteenth street some fifteen feet
above tha street and a aubsequent cut
placed them fully as much more above
the street level. The apex of the hill was
reached at Twentieth street
Great for Coavatlas;.
And, by the way, the boys whe knew
Omaha during the period of its Infancy
aseert that there was no hill In or around
the city that quite came up to that on
Douglas for coasting. In thoae days they
could start their sleds at Twentieth and
coast east as far as Ninth street and
there was not enough traffic to interfere
with the sport. .
The present alte of tho main portion of
the Fontenelle hotel has been the scene
of some stirring events in the years that
have paaapd, especially during thoae of
pioneer times.
Away back before Nehraaka took on
the dignity of statehood there were a
couple of horse thieves .hanged In the
woods that then covered a large portion
of the city to the Immediate wcat of the
high school building. Then the Jail was
located In a county building standing on
the corner of Sixteenth and Farnam
atreeta, now occupied by the Paxton
block. A posse of not bad citizens con
delved the idea that the court machinery
might not work with the desired speed
and regularity and so one night they
forced the doom of the frail jail, took
the horse thieves out escorted thr-m to
the woods and there hanged both to tha
limbs of the same tree.
Oa Way to Hanaina:.
On tha way to the hanging, the party
went cross-lots, going over what is now
tho site of the Fontenelle hotel. At that
time, as history records It, there was
one good alsed lone Cottonwood tree
standing not far from the northwest
corner of the present hotel. This tree
had wide spreading branches and under
It tha party stopped and the advisability
of hanging the men to this tree was dis
cussed. However, It was abandoned be
cause being so close In, It was argued that
the officers in charge of tha jail might
raise a posse and rescue the mqn. As the
outcome of the discussion, the men were
taken away and hanged at the place
farther out from town.
In 1S0S, following the assassination of
President Lincoln, outdoor memorial serv
ices were held on the high school grounds.
The procession, and It was a large one,
for practically all the people of Omaha
took part passed over the site of the
Fontenelle hotel. At that time there
was a road off Farnam street, following
Eighteenth to Douglas street From
there It ran diagonally across the Fon
tenelle hotel block, entering It close to
the southeast corner. Then the streets
had not been cut or graded.
Again, when the last spike was driven
at Promontory Point Utah. late In the
60"s, marking the completion of a railroad
from Omaha to the Pacific coast, the
site of the Fontenelle hotel helped to
make history. Omaha celebrated the com
pletion of tho Union Pacific road at
that time and on the high school grounds
there was speaking, music and song, but
the real noise was made on the Fon
tenelle hotel site.
On the old Cummins lots at Eighteenth
and Douglas streets a high flag pole had
been ereotod and a cannon located. When
the telegrnph ticked the taps of the ham
mer driving the last apike, connecting
roast and coast with a hand of eteel, this
cannon boomed forth the glad news. The
gun was located there on account of the
elevation and becauan from the great
helirht the Bound would echo and re-coho
up and down and across the river, carry
ing the tidings miles Into the country.
I j
ly IS
1 D
(Fourteenth Year)
Such Sample Rooms
As Hotel Affords,
And Such Fine View
"The traveling men will simply go wild
over theae aamplo rooms," said Abra
ham Burbank, managing director of tho
new hotel, aa ho showed a visitor
through the beautiful rooms on the tenth
and eleventh floors.
It is to be hoped the knights of tho
sample grips won't do quite that liter
ally, but that they will do so figura
tively, aa Mr. Burbank rnent, is as cer
tain as anything In this mundane sphere
can be.
Oh, such beautiful rooms, with their
thick carpeting, their amplo proportions,
their beautiful walls' and ceilings and
lighting fixtures, their telephones and
private toilet and bath rooms.
"An the view. Just look at the view,"
said Mr. Burbank.
Ah, that vlewl The traveling men will
soon be telling about it from Frisco to
Gotham, from Duluth to Now Orleans.
Here you don't look out upon a ctty-
scape of roofs and chimneys and waah
llnea stretched on apartment house roofs.
You -do not.
But tha eye seems to skip. over the
Assets Over $1,700,000.00
And No Indebtedness
provide pure life insurance pro
at reasonable rates, WHICH ARE
HOME OFFICE Brandcii Theater Building
Phono Douglas 7021
- w ai v aaaapaaw aaaaaaaM SSaattSM a
I !
V . . -
The Plate Glass, Mirrors
and Art Glass for the
Fontenelle Hotel was sup
plied through the contractor by
Largest Dealers in Glass in the West
. , ; j f i f . . i
11 -' - "-- - - "
-1 ... -I
Magnitude and Completeness of .
Electric Service in the
New Foatenelle Hotel
The Lighting System in this magnifi-
cen hostelry
will be the talk of every guest who en
ters. No effort has been spared to make
, it the best lighted building in the state.
In all rooms and departments the soft, distinct
light of day will greet the guests.
The Power or operating elevators, ventilating fans, pumps, vac
uum cleaners and laundry equipment will be done
with electric energy. Electric refrigeration plants will cool the
atmosphere in summer, keeping tho hotel always at a comfortable temperature.
Absolute Quiet The new system installed assures all electric
: power operations to be perfectly quiet; no an
noyance will be given the guests by noisy raising or lowering of
elevators, etc. Service will be safeguarded by the unlimited re
sources of our electric plant.
Central Station Service The lighting and power contract was
; awarded to us because the manage
ment of this magnificent hotel desired to give its patrons reliable
Omaha Electric Light Power Co.
Union Pacific Headquarters Building, 15th and Dodge Sti.

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