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'What was once old may be new again': Presfest celebrates Omaha history and restoration

Posted at 7:53 PM, May 19, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The second annual Preserve Omaha event took place at the Joslyn Castle and invited neighbors to explore how restoration and preservation keep history alive in Omaha.

  • The event was about more than just education, it was about what the future of Omaha will look like, as new developments continue to arise in the metro.
  • Preserve Omaha provides some insights to developers and says tearing down structures should be a last resort.
  • Restoration and preservation do have its challenges as structures continue to get old, but its worth it for organizations like Preserve Omaha who want to honor the legacy of those who came before us.


As Omaha continues to grow with new development some in our community want to take a moment to share the beauty behind historic spaces and the importance of preservation. That’s why Preserve Omaha is back here at the Joslyn Castle for the second annual PresFest.

Music, art, tours and more all in celebration of what makes Omaha, Omaha.

"It's part of our culture our history. It represents a time long past," said Gary Bowen, a retired architect who was visiting the event.

Preserve Omaha puts on this event to help showcase the positives of saving historical places like the Joslyn Castle, which was built in 1903.

"When something is built quality, the better quality it is the longer it's intended to last," said Tim Reeder, the president of Preserve Omaha.

But the event is about more than education, it's about what the future of our city will look like.

The nonprofit understands that new development will happen but believes tearing down structures entirely should be a last resort.

"I think our hope is as a community we can work together much better with developers to make sure that when they do tear down a structure or need the space that they reconsider preserving it or incorporating the structure if possible."

But restoration and preservation do have their challenges.

"You know, the campus is 120 years old so there's a lot of work that goes into maintaining a property with three buildings, especially as it ages, things get really expensive,” said Kelli Bello, the director of development and outreach for Joslyn Castle and Gardens.

With expenses being a factor, Preserve Omaha suggests if a new structure needs to be built in place of an old building, that the new one fits in with the neighborhood.

"It just needs to flow with the feel and the quality and the style of the area," said Reeder.

Preserving history is a way for organizations like Preserve Omaha and the Joslyn Castle to honor the legacy of those who came before us.

"What was once old may be new again and that does happen," said Reeder.