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August 4, 2011


That big blue house on the corner

by Deena Winter


I always notice this big baby-blue Victorian house when I’m headed home from downtown on South 16th Street. With its expansive wrap-around porch and seemingly acres of space, I watched with hope when the “for sale” sign went up — hoping someone would snatch it up and take care of the grand old girl.

But time went by and the grass turned into a weed patch and the porch seemed to sag more. It’s amazing how fast a how starts to degenerate without a human there to keep her in shape — ever notice how you can leave for a week of vacation and come home to a haggard house?

And then my Mom came to town for Easter, and the blue house caught her eye right away, too. In fact, she demanded I call the realtor and get us in to see it. She seemed ready to make an offer, on the spot. Give up her retirement savings for this old girl.

We stopped and looked at the outside of the house while I called the number on the sign — the interior looked like it needed some TLC and indeed the porch was not in great shape. There was no garage but what a treasure trove for someone who loves to renovate old houses.

But when I finally reached the real estate agent, he said the house was sold. Mom’s dream of cashing in her 401K for an old house two states away from her fizzled.

I kept an eye on Old Blue, and recently, the work trucks started showing up and the doors were propped open and construction workers suddenly were climbing all over the house. A sign recently went up out front announcing that it will be the future home of the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.

I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that another of Lincoln’s gems will not be chopped up into apartments or allowed to fall into disrepair. Lincoln has so many historic homes that need someone to take care of them — I’ve lived in four states and never have I seen so many great old homes. It’s my favorite thing about Lincoln.

I wish the city would create more incentive programs to help people buy old homes in the Everett and Near South areas and renovate them. I know there are some programs, like NIFA, but other cities do more. Lincoln could do more.

So here’s hoping those sorority girls will take good care of this old girl as she begins a new chapter in her undoubtedly storied life.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 5 2011

    Thanks for pointing this out Deena. What a great project. I hope our friends at the Preservation Association of Lincoln are paying attention. These folks could use some moral support.
    And thank you Deena for giving props to historic preservation and the fact that we could all do more.
    J.L. Schmidt
    Heritage Nebraska

  2. paul mike grieger
    Aug 5 2011

    that was the childhood home of Banker Burnan Yates. The money man behind the now known as U.S.Bank tower and the redevelopment of the Cornhusker Hotel and Yates Convention center.

    The home was an asset of the bankrupt tierone bank.

    which means fdic and you and me.

  3. krm
    Aug 11 2011

    Unfortunately, the historic exterior is likely all that will remain historic about the house. Much of the interior is being gutted to accomodate the number of living units that the sorority requires to occupy the building. And because it is considered a public occupancy, it needs to meet ADA requirements. Most of the historic elements of the interior to not meet ADA code, so buh-bye to many of the pretty things 😦


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