Backstory and Context
The Edward Rosewater School was built in 1910, replacing Forest School that stood here before, and is named for a man who played a major role in the development of the city of Omaha. The building itself was designed by architect Frederick W. Clark and is considered to be in the second renaissance revival style. This simply means that the design was inspired by architecture of Imperial Rome. The school formally opened on June 3, 1911, after being completed at a cost of $100,000. An article from the Omaha Daily Bee described it as being “a handsome sixteen-room building.”
Edward Rosewater was born in 1841 in Bukowan, Bohemia. He and his parents immigrated to Ohio in 1855, where he became a telegrapher. In 1863 that he moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where he managed telegraph offices for a number of years. As a result of connections and information he learned from these jobs, he was elected as a Republican to the Nebraska House of Representatives in 1870. During this time in office, Rosewater attempted to win passage of a bill to provide for an elected school board in the city of Omaha. To gain support from the public voters, Rosewater began publishing of what would later be called The Omaha Bee.
Initially, Rosewater did not intend this publication to be a true newspaper, but because of public support and the successful passage of his bill on May 6,1872, this changed. Early in the newspaper's history, the articles focused primarily on Rosewater's opinions and views, including his feuds with various suffragists. For an example of the success of this publication, in 1894, Rosewater and The Bee rallied for the eventual governor of the state. The newspaper promoted various forms of development in Omaha such as the Trans-Mississippi Exposition of 1898. Following his death in 1906, The Bee stayed in the Rosewater family until 1920 when it was sold.
Starting in the late 1800s, Omaha and its school system grew rapidly which required an almost yearly expansion of the school system. Despite economic troubles, Omaha expanded from a plains railroad hub into a bustling city between 1870 and 1900. During this time there were a few “panics” which caused large numbers of people to leave, but following these times even more people would flock to the city. This sudden boom of industry and population is a major reason for the need of an elected school board to run the city's schools. Despite the hardships, during this time of rising population, voters were always in favor of increasing budgets related to education, which would lead to the building of various Omaha schools that still stand today.
In 1983, Rosewater School, along with five other Omaha and Bellevue area schools closed at the end of the school year. The school board held meetings in which they invited the public to share what they thought should happen with the buildings. Many in the Deer Park Neighborhood wanted Rosewater to be converted into a community center. The association, though, did not have enough money to buy the building and the district would not give it away. There was also support to have the building turned into the College World Series (CWS) hall of fame because the building sat across the street from Rosenblatt Stadium, where the CWS was held until 2010. According to an article in the Omaha World Herald dated September 16, 1983, there was no commitment from the school board on what they would turn the building into, though superintendent Myron Hall had given a favorable recommendation for the eventual buyer.
On March 19, 1984, the building was sold below the $175,000 ($425,653 today) asking price at $163,333 ($397,275 today). Of the three schools buildings up for sale at the time, Rosewater was the only one to attract a second buyer. The building sold in a unanimous 9-0 board vote to Leslie J. Hassel who had plans to turn the school into condominiums. Hassel bought the building because he admired the style of architecture from his time spent in Europe. He recognized and appreciated the fact that European countries preserved their older buildings and wanted to change the American pattern of destroying historic buildings. Hassel also bought other closed schools such as Giles School on April 9, 1984. In May 1984, the city approved Hassel's plans to convert Rosewater into condominiums and the zoning was approved on September 11 of the same year.
The project to convert the school into apartments was a large undertaking and ended up becoming a $750,000 project ($1,824,225 today). The renovation included the roof, the two main floors, and the basement. Prior to the renovation, the two main floors each had eight classrooms which were turned into twelve apartments and the basement level was converted into eight apartments. While changing the blueprint of rooms, Hassel kept as much as he could the same. The building still maintain the same ceiling heights, the original maple wood floors, and the corner apartments retain the same dimensions as the classrooms that were there before. In April 1985, Hassel applied the building to be included on the National Register of Historic places which provides a 25 percent federal tax credit for the developer and was accepted just a month later.
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4. “Omaha Daily Bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, June 16, 1901, Image 13,” June 16, 1901. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1901-06-16/ed-1/seq-13/.
5. “Omaha Daily Bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, June 18, 1911, ANNIVERSARY, Image 55,” June 18, 1911.
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7. “Omaha Daily Bee.” Accessed April 5, 2018. http://nebnewspapers.unl.edu/lccn/sn99021999/.
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9. Olson, Chris. "Rosewater School Now 32 Apartments," Omaha World-Herald (NE), June 23, 1985, accessed May 05, 2018, http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/12DB1185413A9EF8?p=WORLDNEWS.
10. Omaha World-Herald, September 20, 1983: 21, accessed May 05, 2018, http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/image/v2:1106B5BBD4B623A8@EANX-138C7410F59B69D3@2445598....
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14. Jordon, Steve. "Photographer Plans Historic Apartments," Omaha World-Herald (NE), May 25, 1984, accessed May 05, 2018, http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/12DB0F1F00607B38?p=WORLDNEWS.
15. "Officials Likely to Recommend High Bids on 3 Closed Schools," Omaha World-Herald (NE), March 15, 1984, accessed May 05, 2018, http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/12DB0A58EE515490?p=WORLDNEWS.
16. "Closed Schools Sold Below Asking Prices," Omaha World-Herald (NE), March 20, 1984, accessed May 05, 2018, http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/12DB0A7A6D8F40F8?p=WORLDNEWS.
17. Levenson, Bob. "Planning Board OKs Plan to Convert School Into 30 Condominiums," Omaha World-Herald (NE), May 10, 1984, accessed May 05, 2018, http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/12DB0E4B0AC2F1A0?p=WORLDNEWS.
Ammodramus. English: Rosewater School, Located at 3764 S. 13th Street in Omaha, Nebraska; Seen from the East, across 13th. March 16, 2012. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosewater_School_Omaha_from_E_1.JPG.
———. English: Rosewater School, Located at 3764 S. 13th Street in Omaha, Nebraska; Seen from the Northeast. March 16, 2012. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosewater_School_Omaha_from_NE_1.JPG.
———. English: Rosewater School, Located at 3764 S. 13th Street in Omaha, Nebraska; Seen from the Southeast. March 16, 2012. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosewater_School_Omaha_from_SE_1.JPG.
———. English: Rosewater School, Located at 3764 S. 13th Street in Omaha, Nebraska; Seen from the Southeast. March 16, 2012. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosewater_School_Omaha_from_SE_2.JPG.
“Omaha Daily Bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, June 16, 1901, Image 13,” June 16, 1901. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1901-06-16/ed-1/seq-13/.