North End Teleservices to boost revitalization of 24th & Lake corridor
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The old brick building at the corner of 24th and Lake in North Omaha was once the home of the Great Plains Black History Museum. For years, the building has been vacant and falling apart, right before the eyes of the community.
“The building has been standing...it’s a little bit on one leg rather than two right now,” said North End Teleservices CEO Carmen Tapio. “But it’s a significant structure. The architect was the same architect that did the downtown library, so there’s some relevance there.”
Despite its rundown state, Tapio purchased the property to save the historic Webster Building -- and a piece of Omaha history.
“I learned it was the site of the first telephone company in the city of Omaha,” Tapio said. “And I woke up one morning and realized we’re in telecommunications. We’re in teleservices...and so it’s very meaningful, very purposeful to be a part of helping to preserve and bring back that building.”
Omaha Star publisher Terri Sanders took over as the museum’s director after the building fell into disrepair, moving the artifacts to the old Crossroads Mall to keep the museum alive. She’s thrilled to know the historic building will be saved.
“That building is on the National Historic Registry. What people may not know is when there was a tornado in Omaha, that was one of the places they took people to was that building,” Sanders said. “It has a lot of significance, not only for this community but for the Omaha community at large.”
Tapio has a growing nonprofit organization, Nebraska Black Women United. The group held its first networking event about two years ago, working to connect and support Black women and their businesses across the state. She wants to use a renovated Webster Building to give her nonprofit a home.
“New corporate offices for Nebraska Black Women United as well as, I’m hoping, at least three professional service offices that will be available for women business owners and entrepreneurs,” Tapio said.
Bringing this building back to life will be no easy task -- but Tapio says the project will be worth the effort.
“It’s really an honor and a privilege to be part of and to be able to bring that building back,” she said. “It’s a beautiful asset that when we’re done with it, it’ll stand strong and be symbolic in the community as well.”
The Webster Building is right across the street from North End Teleservices’ redevelopment plan on 24th and Lake -- that will include the company’s new corporate headquarters, retail space, and a daycare.
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