August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Les and Ce Ann Zanotti built a house in Glen Oaks Estates (south of 99th Street and West Center Road) in 1972, the couple—from Iowa and Missouri, respectively—had only lived in Nebraska for a few years, and they were not really sure how long they would stay in the community. They both say, emphatically, that they never envisioned themselves still living in the same house four and a half decades later.

Zanottis2“I don’t think we thought that far ahead,” Ce Ann says.

“I was just starting a new business, so I didn’t know if I was going to be in business two years from then or not,” Les explains.

The new business venture, Management Recruiters, thrived all the way to Les’ retirement. So as the Zanottis prospered through the years and put down deeper roots in Omaha, they modified and added on to the original house and landscaping.

“We really kind of underbuilt, to be honest,” Les says. “Our house is just an ordinary house; it’s not something that’s a showpiece. But our backyard is spectacular.”

The lot was a draw from the very beginning, Ce Ann agrees, recalling that the greenery was so abundant even before construction started that, during a site visit, she lost sight of a handbag she momentarily placed on the ground. And the Zanottis were thrilled to get the lot “for a steal” from its previous holder, a prominent local business owner in the midst of a divorce and eager to liquidate.

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Les may describe his house as “ordinary,” but the 3,400-square-foot, two-story, French Country-style residence boasts lovely features, such as a mansard roof and leaded glass front windows. Neighborhood covenants required that the house be set back 75 feet from the street, leaving plenty of room for now-mature trees and plants in the front. The sloping, 1.3-acre wooded property proved perfect for tiered landscaping in the backyard, the site for a breathtaking flower garden that’s matured beautifully over the last 10 years and become the envy of neighbors and visitors.

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“It’s been at its best for the last three or four years, but it took a long time,” Ce Ann says.

The large lot was also conducive to the house itself, evolving through a series of remodels that included a 1984 add-on, which doubled the size of the family room and created another eating area, and a 1990 project that converted a bathroom and bedroom into a larger bathroom and closet. A swimming pool came and went (their now-adult daughter loved it, but pools don’t mix well with squirrels and walnut trees or blackbirds and mulberry trees, Les says) and the original, one-car garage was expanded to a three-car garage at some point.

The pinnacle, however, was the unique 2002 addition.

“That was our last and final addition. That probably is the best room in the house,” Les says.

Ce Ann adds: “It’s octagonal-shaped, there are windows on every side of the octagon (except the entrance), and a spiral staircase going down to the wine cellar. It’s kind of unusual.”

The Zanottis admit that they looked into building again in other neighborhoods—in the past. Every time they looked, they never found anything quite like what they already own.

“What kept us here was the lot,” Les says, and his wife agrees. “We like our trees, we like our lot, and we like our central location.” OmahaHome

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