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Nebraska National Register Sites
in Kearney County

Rural Sites

 Dobytown [25-KN-05] Listed 1974/12/16

Kearny City or Dobytown was a small community which sprang up two miles from Fort Kearny in 1859. Although labeled by an Omaha newspaper "a collection of huts and hovels" with more saloons than families, Dobytown provided important services to both the military and travelers along the Overland Trail. Blacksmith shops and other businesses were important to freighters and emigrants traveling along the Platte valley. Less respectable services offered by Dobytown included saloons, gambling halls, and houses of prostitution. The completion of the Union Pacific Railroad north of the Platte River in 1867 and the abandonment of Fort Kearny in 1871 led to the quick decline of Dobytown.

   Fort Kearny [25-KN-01] Listed 1971/07/02

Fort Kearny was established along the Overland Trail by the United States Army in 1848 and abandoned in 1871. This military post was one of the most important in the West. Fort Kearny was located where trails from Missouri River points such as Independence, St. Joseph, Nebraska City, and Omaha converged to form a single major route westward to Fort Laramie. It guarded emigrants, the Pony Express, the telegraph, and railroads in the Platte valley. Fort Kearny also served as an assembly and outfitting point for numerous military expeditions during the Indian wars.

 Salem Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church Complex, pdf [KN00-002] Listed 1982/07/29

The Salem Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church complex, consisting of a church, parsonage, and school, was built to meet the religious and educational needs of Swedish immigrants in the area near Axtell during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The present church building, a Carpenter Gothic structure, was dedicated on July 31, 1898.

 E. E. Carpenter House, pdf [KN00-131] Listed 1993/02/25

The Eddie Eugene Carpenter farmstead is significant for its association with Mr. Carpenter, an entrepreneur who established a general store dealing in groceries and general merchandise in Lowell in 1915, and who operated the store until his death in 1943. The Carpenter Store served as one of the community's main economic bases, providing goods and services to Lowell residents and farmers in the surrounding rural area. Built c.1910, the Carpenter house and associated farm buildings are the only properties that remain that reflect the important contributions of E. E. Carpenter and the service his store provided to the history of Lowell.

Urban Sites

 W. T. Thorne Building, pdf [KN04-004] Listed 1985/09/12

Located in Minden, the three-story commercial building, designed in the Renaissance Revival style, is an example of a nineteenth century opera house block, a building type important to the cultural life of small towns in Nebraska. Constructed in 1891 by W. T. Thorne, the building was also known as Hostetler's Opera House, named for the Hostetler family, which was involved in governmental, political, and business affairs of early Buffalo and Kearney counties.

 Kearney County Courthouse, pdf [KN04-001] Listed 1990/01/10

Kearney County was organized in 1872 and an election was duly held to determine the county seat. Lowell won over Kearney City, which had been the temporary seat. However, settlers who chose the southern part of the county over the more expensive land near the Platte River in the north began to agitate for a more centrally located county seat. An election held in November 1876 decided the matter. Minden, located in the center of the county, emerged as the new and permanent winner in the county government sweepstakes. Officials initially used a modest frame building constructed in 1878 for the courthouse. This was replaced the following year by a more substantial building. By 1904, however, county residents indicated their desire for a new courthouse and in 1905 passed a bond issue for a new building. The next year work began and in 1907 the Classical Revival-style courthouse opened.

  Minden United States Post Office, pdf [KN04-007] Listed 1992/05/11

The Minden United States Post Office is a one-story, buff brick and limestone building constructed in 1936-37 in the Modernistic style. While the building retains a high degree of integrity, its historical significance derives from the mural painted on an interior wall.

Through New Deal programs such as the Public Works of Art Project and the WPA Federal Art Project, thousands of artists were employed. In 1934 the Section of Painting and Sculpture (renamed the lSection of Fine Arts in 1938) was organized under the auspices of the Treasury Department to provide murals and sculpture for the many federal buildings constructed during the New Deal era.

Between 1938 and 1942 the Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts (generally known as "the Section") commissioned twelve murals for twelve newly constructed post offices in Nebraska. Minden, along with the other eleven post office murals in Nebraska represent the Section's goal of making art accessible to the general population by reserving one percent of new building construction budgets for art.

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Last updated 1 December 2010

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