Early Omaha: Gateway to the West
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Following the Grand Central Hotel disaster, Omaha was once again without a top-flight hotel. The Millard Hotel, opened to the public in July of 1882, was designed to fill this void. A five-story building located on the northeast corner of 13th and Douglas Streets, the Millard was described as “one of the representative establishments and a prominent feature of Omaha, while as a first-class hotel it has no superior in the West, combining in a perfect manner comfort, elegance, and convenience” (Pen and Sunlight Sketches, p. 83). In its earliest days of existence, the Millard “waged a duel for supremacy” with the Paxton Hotel (which was built on the site of the former Grand Central Hotel) [“7 Dead in Hotel Fire”, p. 2]. It was claimed that “absolutely no danger from fire” (Omaha Illustrated, p. 60) existed at the Millard. Unfortunately, this did not prove to be accurate. On February 8, 1933 – when temperatures reached fifteen degrees below zero – a disastrous fire started at the Millard Hotel. By the time the blaze was contained, seven firefighters had died and twenty-two more were injured.
Text written by John Mitchell, October 2003
“7 Dead in Hotel Fire.” Omaha World-Herald (Evening Edition). 9 February 1933, Page 2.
Omaha City Directory: 1883-84.
Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today. Omaha: D.C. Dunbar and Co., 1888. Page 60.
Pen and Sunlight Sketches of Omaha and Environs. Chicago: Phoenix Publishing Company, 1892. Page 83.