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Kearney: 1940

November 1940. "House in Kearney, Nebraska." A sort of hitching-post graveyard. Medium format acetate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

November 1940. "House in Kearney, Nebraska." A sort of hitching-post graveyard. Medium format acetate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Odd sidewalk placement

What's striking to me about this part of Kearney (from aerial views) is the unusual amount of space between the curb and the edge of the sidewalk, not just on B Avenue but in many nearby neighborhoods. It's as if the sidewalks were placed much closer to the front of each house. The current "Kearney Plan," the city's comprehensive guide plan, explains it this way: "A typical cross-section includes a 100-foot wide street channel, ten to twelve-foot greenway strips between the curb line and the sidewalk, four-foot sidewalks, and 15 to 25-foot front yard setbacks." Within those "ten to twelve-foot greenway strips" is a lot of space for snowbanks. For more:

A more realistic FloorPlan? says 3700 square feet, which I agree is a whole bunch larger than the place looks, but Zillow lists a more plausible 1,340 sq ft.


In 1940, the sidewalk alongside this house reached the street by way of a curb cut at the corner. By 2022, despite vastly greater awareness of infrastructure impeding people with disabilities, the curb had been rebuilt as a solid barrier. Was this unusual, or did the thinking with respect to civic "improvements" evolve widely along these lines? And if so, how come?

In the Gutter

Somebody was listening to KimS! Rain water and melting snow now flows into gutters, leaders and downspouts. (As can be seen in Google Street View 2022 image posted by smurley).

A Porch With a New Purpose

The porch wasn’t removed, it was enclosed.

House Hunting

davidk: How do you find houses?

I don't know how smurley found this house, but here are some things I've used:

1. Pick a small town!
2. Look for the city center and start near there
3. Look for a neighborhood near the city center that has houses from the same era
4. Sometimes you can spot a likely neighborhood from the satellite view - more tree cover often indicates an older neighborhood
5. If you're lucky enough to have a house number, you can google the house number + the city/state, and get a list of addresses with that number in. In this case, searching "2301 kearney, nebraska" gives you 2301 B Ave as the first hit.
6. Finally, if you're stubborn enough and have enough time, you could use street view to search up and down the streets

Others may have different techniques, but that's what I've used. Good luck with your hunt!

Got 'em now!

KimS, if you look at the modern-day photo of the home uploaded by Smurley, downspouts are a proud new feature!

To DavidK

Good question. However, I may perpetuate the enigma in that I simply typed "old house in Kerney NE" and it came up in the images with an address, which I then entered into Google maps.

No downspouts?

That's an interesting gutter treatment, and I suspect they had no end of water problems. It appears that all rainwater falling onto the visible portion of the front gable was routed to the sloped roof just below the tower then simply pitched over the right side. Ugh! I hope they had a lot of good copper or lead flashing in those valleys behind the tower. The entire house looks like a maintenance nightmare.

I've always wondered

How do the diligent Shorpsters track down these houses? When all we find in the caption is “House in Kearney, Nebraska,” how does smurley come up with the precise location at the NW corner of B Avenue and E 23rd Street? Do these intrepid Shorpy explorers go prowling and up down the streets on streetview until they find their quarry?

(Thank you, Chuckster and archfan, for your replies above.)


From 2312 to 2301.

Kearney House

What a number of architectural details on this house! Both pointed and keystone arches, hand-split resawn roof shingles, fish scale wood shingles as part of the siding, both horizontal and vertical wood siding, that beautiful tower reminiscent of a bell tower, that handmade sunburst in the gable, and the overdone supports at the gable ends ... skilled hands dressed this house. Would love to have seen the interior.

2301 B Avenue

The house still looks very nice, although there was a lot of charm in the porch that's been removed. From the Google Street View, you can see this house recently sold. Here is the listing, with eight photographs of the interior. Very nice, especially the updated kitchen, while keeping a lot of the woodwork stained and not painted, and the stained-glass windows. It's larger than I would have guessed -- 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 3,700 square feet.

My observation is that houses of this era became undesirable as many modern conveniences became available. Conveniences such as better and more plentiful indoor plumbing, electric appliances requiring outlets on multiple walls in every room, better heating systems, air conditioning, bigger closets, and much better insulation. This house probably still doesn't have particularly good insulation. Plus, as today, many people simply want something newer and different than what they grew up in. It often takes a while for us to look at something and say, hey, that's worth preserving.

It Still Stands!

This house still stands on the NW corner of B Avenue and E 23rd Street

Relative Value

It's always been interesting to me about the timeline of value for these houses. Nowadays, this house would be seen as a treasure, worthy of being restored as closely as possible to its original state. One wonders if at the time (1940) this was just considered a wheezy or tacky remnant of the not so distant past, a rundown eyesore to be removed or broken up into apartments.

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