November 19, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Many walk right by the iron gate while strolling to the restaurants and shops of the Old Market, never knowing the secret treasures found beyond its locked entrance. No flashy sign, no hours of operation, simply the number “510” and two large griffin statues perfectly guarding the entrance to one of Omaha’s hidden gems—Lucile’s Old Market.

A trove of treasures is definitely the best way to describe this unique event space, once owned by Lucile Schaaf, known in Omaha as the “Orange Lady.” An eclectic woman who studied architecture at Scripps College in California, she filled her home with salvaged furniture and architectural elements from all over Nebraska and neighboring states. This visionary saw the potential not only in her home, but also in the budding new downtown area developing during the 1960s.

Her love of the citrus fruit’s color can still be seen in the home today. The space was bought four years ago by Brian and Jennifer Kobs, a couple who are partners in businesses that include Abraham Catering, 1316 Jones, and various other event venues. The Kobs first met Lucile near the end of her life when Abraham Catering became her exclusive caterer for private events. A casual conversation about letting Brian know if she ever wanted to sell the building led to a purchase agreement years later. Lucile passed away in 2009 at 91 years old but it was the relationship with her granddaughter, Amy Waskel, that allowed Brian and Jennifer to keep the spirit of Lucile, and her love of pumpkin, carrot, and mango hues, alive in the house.

Enter through doors to a different place in time. The doors on the dining room ceiling—taken from Murphy beds at the historic Morris Hotel. The office doors—used as wall panels—from the City National Bank. Entrances that still read the names of the executive officers who once opened them daily. It’s a visual history of Omaha.

The endless list of unique finds astounds. Crown molding in the entrance foyer from the original Cornhusker Hotel, panel walls and marble from the City National Bank board rooms now lining the beautiful dining room, ceilings covered with the walls from telephone booths original to the City National; and those griffins, recovered from the original First National Bank Building and now greeting guests upon entering the building.

Lucile’s Old Market rents to private parties, wedding couples, and corporations for a cost of $800 -$1,300 (depending on day of the week) and includes the use of the impressively large and beautifully manicured outdoor courtyard—a rarity in the Old Market. The event space seats up to 100, though the ideal size, according to Kobs, is 50.

It’s a space that takes an event to a new level. One where every nook, every corner, has a story. A story that shows the beauty of Omaha history.

Visit lucilesoldmarket.com to learn more.

Lucilles1

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