The History of the Brandeis Millard House
The Brandeis Mansion. c. 1906
In the two decades before World War I, magnificent new mansions expressed Omaha’s arrival as a first-class city, particularly in the Gold Coast on its western edge. The 32-room home on the southwest corner of 38th and Dewey Streets—now called the Gold Coast Historic Neighborhood District—was designed and built 1904-1905, and serves as an excellent example of Jacobethan Revival-style design. Its interior and exterior are remarkable.
Arthur and Zerlina Brandeis, members of the family that built and operated the J. L. Brandeis & Sons Department Store in downtown Omaha, commissioned young German immigrant Albert Kahn to design the home for them. Later he would design the home of Edsel Ford.
Arthur Brandeis was the oldest son of the department store’s founder, Jonas L. Brandeis, who arrived in Omaha in 1883. Jonas died in 1903, leaving sons Arthur, Emil and Hugo well prepared to operate the Brandeis family’s extensive investments. Just a few years after occupying the architectural treasure, Arthur and Zerlina sold the house, choosing instead to live in New York while keeping an office in Omaha to run the business interests.
In 1909, Jessie Millard purchased the home from Brandeis and moved in with her aging father, former US Senator Joseph H. Millard. Joseph and his brother Ezra were among Omaha’s earliest entrepreneurs. Using real estate profits, Joseph built a large Omaha hotel, organized the streetcar system, and served as a director of Union Pacific Railroad. He was briefly mayor of Omaha (1871) and served in the U.S. Senate from 1901-1907. The integrity of the home was maintained by Joseph’s daughter Jessie alone after the Senator’s death in 1922 to her death at age 86 in 1950.
From 1950 forward, it served as a real estate office (Switzer Realty), day-care facility (Children’s Corner), event center (LePlace 38) and once again, a home. In the 1980s, owner Rose Erato and her husband David Russell began the revival of the landmark. From 1999 to 2008, owners John and Janel Sunderland worked lovingly to restore the home. Al and Delores Maser of LeMars, Iowa, purchased the residence as their future retirement home in 2008. Their son, Mark, president of the Blackstone Neighborhood Association, contributed the home as the 2009 Designer Showhouse. Today, the Brandeis Millard Mansion is a private residence.
For a detailed history, more information and photographs of the Brandeis Millard Mansion, visit “Brandeis Millard House” on Facebook.