Puzzling Times – Omaha 1915 edition #12

Today we have for you the twelfth and final panel in the series of panoramic photos shot by Father Rigge and Alphonse Schmitt. The first half of today’s blog post will focus on the attempts to find the missing West panel. We would like to thank Karl for putting together the write-ups and doing all of the research for these Rigge blogs.

Go West: Finding the West Facing Panel

Readers that have been following this series from the beginning may remember that when the task was undertaken to search through the archive’s physical photograph collection, we had a stroke of luck and found 11 of the 12 plates in the first box searched. The one missing plate was the West facing plate. This was disappointing as that was the plate that would have featured St. Cecilia’s Cathedral, which was still under construction at the time this photo series was taken. Still with 11 of the 12 plates on hand the decision was made to focus in on processing those images, the building identification and cleaning and stitching processes discussed previously, as opposed to delaying the project for a continued search for the missing plate which may or may not still exist.

Several months later, we had another stroke of luck. The liaison librarian embedded at Immanuel Hospital contacted us wanting to know more about the view where the old Immanuel Hospital was visible and about getting some copies of the image. While going through some image folders to meet the request the archive worker who had handled the scanning and image editing for the project stumbled on some older images they had scanned as part of a previous project. The style of one item caught their eye and upon closer inspection they realized that it was a scan of the missing West facing plate. While of decent quality this scan was not at the same high level of resolution as the scans created specifically for this project so it wouldn’t work for incorporation into the stitched panorama we have constructed, but it does confirm that the image exists within the archives collection. Unfortunately, at this time circumstances haven’t yet allowed for a protracted search of the archive’s photographic collections for the original plate. However, once the plate is found it should be relatively easy to scan it and incorporate it into the existing panorama thereby completing the work begun by Fr. Rigge all those years ago.

Today’s puzzle is a view from the West.


Image A – Webster Street School located at 28th and Webster St. Built around 1886/87, the school was one of the first buildings designed by John Latenser, Sr after he arrived in Omaha. Latenser over the course of his career would, among other projects, go on to designthirty-five public school buildings in Omaha, including the new Central High School building. Latenserwas also involved in a supervisory capacity with the construction of the Old Omaha Post Office and Customs Building. The Webster School was demolished in 1969.  1 2 3 4 5 6

Image B – The towers of St. Cecilia’s Cathedral still under construction peeking over Duchesne College. St. Cecilia’s parish was founded in 1888, by the turn of the century the parish found itself in search of a new home and in 1901 commissioned Omaha architect Thomas Kimball to design a new church to be located at 40th and Burt St. In 1903 it was announced by Bishop Scannell that the new church would be the site of Omaha’s third cathedral. Work on the church began in 1905 with the cornerstone being laid in 1907. By 1916 the main body of the church was complete enough for services to be held, but it would take over 40 years, in 1959, for construction work on the cathedral’s twin bell towers to be completed and the cathedral consecrated. All told the construction of the cathedral took 54 years and over $2,000,000 in donations. As of 1979 when it was recognized as both an Omaha and national landmark, St. Cecilia’s was one of the ten largest Catholic cathedrals in the United States. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Duchesne College – In the foreground of Image B we can see Duchesne College located at 36th and Burt St. Founded in 1882 as the Academy of the Sacred Heart the original building cost over $60,000, a north wing and connecting section were soon added around 1887. A chapel designed by Thomas Kimball and another connecting section were added in 1909. The Tornado of 1913 severely damaged the main Academy building, destroying the north wing entirely. The damage was extensive enough that it was only the intervention of a number of concerned citizens that saved the building from being demolished. In 1915 the Academy added college courses to its offerings and took the name Duchesne College, named after Mother Philippine Duchesne. The college closed in 1968 and the elementary school was eventual closed as well. The remaining secondary school is now known as the Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart. 1 2 3 4 5 6


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