The Omaha Home for Boys was founded October 12, 1920 in Omaha, Neb., after the Chamber of Commerce recognized the need for a safe place to send orphaned, neglected and wayward boys within Omaha’s city limits.
Tinley L. Combs, prominent jeweler and Chamber of Commerce president at the time, thought the project would be appropriate for a group he was affiliated with—the Masons. Combs, along with 11 other businessmen belonging to various Masonic Lodges in the Omaha area, founded a nonprofit, non-denominational safe haven for boys.
This “home,” filled with boys of all socioeconomic and religious backgrounds, was called the Nebraska Children’s Homefinding Association.
Larger facilities soon were needed, as the Home was always full to its capacity of 36. George W. Megeath approached the Board about the use of the Megeath family home at 2137 South 33rd Street. The mansion was donated to the Home in the name of James G. Megeath, George Megeath’s father and a prominent business man who at one time gave Omaha a portion of the land which is now Hanscom Park. In April, 1923, the boys and Superintendent Noble and his family moved into the Megeath House. (The home on North 22nd Street was utilized for many years as rental property for income, eventually to be razed. The site is now a highrise dormitory on the Creighton University campus.)
It was time to move, and a proposal was adopted to build 5 cottages for 16 boys each on the new site. The Board voted to name cottages after a sponsor, providing each sponsor would donate $15,000 toward the cost of construction.
Moved to cottage life on “Inspiration Hill,” our present location on 52nd and Ames Ave. Dormitory life gave way to the brand new
brick cottages, each containing 4 living units for 4 boys each – under the watchful eye of a housemother.
Bob Cooper donates his stock farm to start a 4-H program for the boys.
In April, 1959 – for the first time – the population of the Home reached capacity with 81 boys on Inspiration Hill and 11 at Cooper Farm. First to pioneer the change from single housemothers taking care of the boys to married House Parents caring for them in a family atmosphere.
Jacobs’ Place transitional living program begins operation.
The Branching Out Program begins, serving hundreds of youth ages 14-24.
Kevin Orr Historical Center
The Omaha Home for Boys formally dedicated and re-opened its recently-updated museum in Orr’s honor. Kevin Orr was a former boy and longtime staff member.
Orr died in 2010, while working and living at the Home. He came to the Home with brothers, Steve and Parker in 1959 at age seven and graduated Omaha Benson High School in 1970. He attended school and worked off campus until he returned in 1973 as a part-time recreation supervisor. He was an executive vice president and chief operating officer at the time of his death.
Many people can attest to Orr’s profound contributions to the Home, among them is longtime friend, Ron York. York was a boy here for 10 years, graduating from the Home and Benson High in 1981 and returning as an employee working with Kevin from 1981 to 1998.
“Something I said the day I graduated from high school was – and for all you boys that are here – this place is what you make of it,” Ron said, “and Kevin was the guy that helped you do that. And I hope that will always live on.”
His memory and life-long contributions will live on. The Kevin Orr Historical Center will continue to be renovated over the next few years, but we invite you to come learn about our more past, our programs, bring some friends, and even schedule a tour.