Tag Archives: Darcy Beck

Indian Hills Village

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

With subdivisions and shopping centers cropping up in one-time croplands west of the city, it is difficult to remember that the Crossroads and Westroads Malls were once shopping meccas located on the edge of town. But as the city developed west in the 1950s, families sought the quiet living of suburbia. Only suburbia wasn’t 204th Street; it was 90th. Neighborhoods like Indian Hills Village, tucked between Harney and Dodge and 84th and 90th Streets, were born.

Forged over 50 years ago, Indian Hills Village was advertised as an “ultra-modern community,” a forerunner of the avant-garde concept that is mixed-use development, says Darcy Beck, Realtor with DEEB Realty and resident of the Indian Hills neighborhood.20121204_bs_6606 copy

So what is considered hip and ‘au courant’ now—mixed-use developments like Midtown Crossing, for example—actually has its roots in the past. Mixed-use development refers to the combination of complimentary commercial, residential, and rental properties in one neighborhood, Beck explains.

Barbara Naughtin has a long-time connection with Indian Hills Village. Her mother and step-father bought a low-rise condo in the neighborhood 30 years ago. Now, she has lived in Indian Hills for the last seven years. As a member of Restore Omaha, she played an integral role in the October 2012 Mid-Century Modern tour of homes. Naughtin is a history buff who attributes her affinity to Omaha’s colorful past to her own family’s connection with it: “My great-great-grandfather was the first Omaha blacksmith in the 1850s.”06 Febuary 2013- The city of Blair is photographed for Omaha Magazine.

Not that long ago, Regency was in “West Omaha” and land beyond 132nd was still farmed. Boys Town was “out in the country” and driving to Elkhorn was considered a “trek.” Such was the case for Indian Hills in the ’40s and ’50s. During World War II, Harold W. Glissman carved an 18-hole public golf course out of farmland between Dodge and Harney streets and 84th and 90th streets. If you were not a member of one of the country clubs, golf in Omaha was limited. But Indian Hills Golf Course offered players the chance to take in panoramic views of the growing city while satisfying their need to hit a little white ball around an undulating course adorned with over 500 evergreens. The course was situated on the city’s highest point, 88th and Indian Hills Drive (now the location of the Lincoln Financial Group business complex). Thus, players claimed they were “golfing the hill” as they set out for a day on the links. Green fees were only 50 cents for Saturday mornings and weekdays, and $1 for Sundays, giving credence to the course’s “Poor Man’s Country Club” nickname. The clubhouse sat where Swanson Towers, a neighborhood anchor, currently resides.

In the early 1950s, the golf course was sold to Gilbert and W. Clarke Swanson who recognized that the city was expanding westward. The brothers envisioned a business and residential development and secured the services of Leo A. Daly architectural firm to help them realize their dream.20121204_bs_6595 copy

Leo Daly, whose company has been located on Indian Hills Drive since 1959, developed Indian Hills to accommodate all income levels. Swanson Tower was created as the area’s high-end, high-rise living option. Condos appealed to middle-income residents. Apartments filled the housing gap as the most economical option. Single-family homes were also constructed with over 80 percent of the homes boasting two-car garages. A church (First Covenant), school (Swanson Elementary), shopping center, hotel (the now defunct Indian Hills Inn), and park rounded out the development.

“If you are not looking for cookie cutter, you might be looking for Indian Hills,” says Beck. Two-story, multi-level, and ranch all coexist peacefully, a melting pot of architectural styles. She and her architect husband were drawn to the collection of flat-roof homes in Indian Hills. “Move over, Brady Bunch,” she laughs.06 Febuary 2013- The city of Blair is photographed for Omaha Magazine.

These homes featured heavily in the Restore Omaha Mid-Century Modern Tour. The “ring leader” of these homes was Mike Ford, who built his home on 89th and Harney in the Mid-Century Modern style in the early ’60s. Not wanting his house to be the sole example of modern architecture on his block, Ford bought four additional lots and enlisted Stanley J. How, Jr. as architect of each. Sam Mangiamele designed their interiors.

Sadly, not all architectural and historic gems of the area have survived. The Indian Hills Theater was built in 1962 for $1 million. It boasted the largest Cinerama, floor-to-ceiling movie screen in the country. Sitting in the theater was the visual equivalent to surround sound. In its heyday, ushers wearing tuxedos would escort movie goers to their reserved seats. The theater closed in 2000 and was demolished the following year despite protests from its Omaha fans and Hollywood’s elite.

Timeless. That is still how Beck describes Indian Hills though: “It’s a remarkable chameleon, able to change and grow and reinvent itself for 21st century living while retaining its original appeal and historic relevance. I guess they knew what they were talking about when they dubbed it the ‘ultra-modern community’ back in 1953.”

Home is Where the Art Is

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“We’re living in the area my mother always wanted to live in,” notes architect Steven Conley of the Indian Hills home he shares with his wife, Darcy Beck, an Omaha Realtor, interior designer, and home stager.

In a sense, the spirits of both Steven’s mother and Darcy’s parents do inhabit the house. Within moments of welcoming visitors, Darcy introduces them to her late mother, Anna Beck (exotic beauty, self-taught artist, Hindu dancer, and universally adored Air Force wife) via paintings of East Indian dancers the latter created as a teenager; and her late father, esteemed Major General A.J. Beck, via signed Dali lithographs and original rosewood and orange leather Eames chairs that he loved, as well as a humorous coffee-table topper of boxing gloves signed by Leon Spinks.

Two large framed and signed lithographs by Salvador Dali are featured in the living room.

Two large framed and signed lithographs by Salvador Dali are featured in the living room.

Steven chimes in with an introduction to Irma, a bigger-than-life sculpture in the entryway that his mother, also named Irma, purchased for him when she downsized her home.

The couple has complemented the art of their parents with their own collection, including a prominently displayed painting by their next-door neighbor, the artist Jill Rizzo, two large ballerina torsos by another local artist gracing their dining room wall, a turquoise-encrusted bull’s head, redolent of Georgia O’Keefe, mounted in their stairway, and a witty ceramic “paper bag” luminaria that Steven gave to Darcy. “Who gives his wife a brown paper bag?” he cracks with a twinkle in his eye.

Dining room chairs made of woven seatbelt material are surprisingly comfortable and serve as conversation pieces.

Dining room chairs made of woven seatbelt material serve as conversation pieces.

The home, built in 1964, is just what you’d expect from a couple who makes their living bringing life to beautiful spaces. Originally owned by Jay Swanson, whose father, Gilbert, was one of Indian Hills’ premier developers, the cubist-style structure was renovated by the local architect legend, Don Polsky, who added the front porch, as well as the sunroom where the couple and their pets (two standard poodles and a cat, all from the Nebraska Humane Society) like to hang out.

After purchasing the home in 2006, Steven oversaw a second renovation by tearing down interior walls to create a completely open, public space. In the more private sleeping quarters of the house, solid-core doors boast a single, thin gleaming ribbon of aluminum, an adornment notioned
by Steven.

White decorative plates that Darcy bought on clearance are used in a bedroom as wall art.

White decorative plates that Darcy bought on clearance are used in a bedroom as wall art.

To this, Darcy adds her stylist’s eye with an expertly curated mix of high and low. Despite her profession, there’s nothing stagey here. Instead, the home is a deeply personal expression of warmth, elegance, and fun. And something else: the unexpected.

“We’re equal-opportunity shoppers,” she explains, plucking a statuette from a shelf to reveal a Marshall’s $16.99 price tag on the bottom. And that turquoise bull’s head? Right above it is a bleached white one that Darcy picked up at Z Gallerie.