Rhonda and Wayne Stuberg’s home at 3708 Farnam Street needs little introduction. It’s “that” house, the grand stone home easily visible while driving down Dodge Street to the east towards Midtown Crossing, or to the west towards Corkscrew Wine & Cheese or The Pella at Blackstone.
The 1907 home, designed by architects George Fisher and Harry Lawrie, is Jacobethan Revival—a style of architecture that combines the horizontal lines of Elizabethan architecture with vertical columns and pilasters as in the Jacobean era.
The style includes flattened arches, featured in the porch overhead and the carriage drop-off point on the west side of the house. The outside is constructed of light-grey stone with trim work around windows and doors, steep gables on the terra-cotta roof, and a tall chimney stack. Decorations around the exterior include relief panels that feature barley, hops, and grain—a nod to original owner Gottlieb Storz, founder of Storz Brewery.
The grand entrance includes a seven-feet-tall doorway created of dark wood and featuring a magnificent stained glass top tucked under a nine-feet-tall archway over the porch.
The mishmash of two old-English styles perfectly describes the inside of the house, which features everything from a light and airy solarium featuring a stained-glass skylight modeled after the one in the main dining room of ocean liner “The Bremen,” to a heavier-looking Victorian living area. The “formal” dining room is a more casual Mission style.
It’s a place where a family can live in comfort, and a bride can float down a staircase and stop at a landing to have her portrait captured—standing next to original art nouveau lamp balustrades.
Then there’s the top-floor ballroom, known as the “Fred Astaire” ballroom as it is one of the few places in Omaha of which the actor, singer, and of course, dancer, retained memories. Nick Huff, co-owner of Hutch in Midtown Crossing, used the ballroom for the second Food Rave in April 2015.
“I said, ‘Oh, Nick, you don’t want to use that space, it isn’t finished!’” says Rhonda, whose son, Nick Stuberg, is friends with Huff. “But he insisted. I said ‘OK, at least let me take care of a couple of things.’ ”
“The house is gorgeous from top to bottom,” Huff said. “But I was just captivated by this room. It’s amazing, wooden floors with huge vaulted ceilings. The walls are this emerald green color. You walk up to this nondescript third floor. You walk through this small hallway, and then there’s this huge ballroom.”
The work that has gone into this home to bring it back has cost well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of labor, but Rhonda wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve always lived in older homes,” she says. “We thought about a condo, but I love to garden.”
She also loves living in the Blackstone neighborhood, and has become the president of the neighborhood association. She believes that future development of the area needs to take into consideration the historic value of its buildings. “The architectural features of historical buildings are works of art,” she maintains, “and should be treasured and restored like any other works of art.”