History of the Burlington Building

Built in 1879, the building was originally a three-story structure built at a cost of about $40,000. The first floor was leased by a wholesale grocer and a wholesale notion dealer. Upper floors were used as headquarters for the operations for the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company.

In l886, an adjacent lot on the west side of the building was purchased. The headquarters was expanded on the west side and a fourth floor was added. The windows on the new top floor, unlike those on the lower floors, had arched openings.

In 1899, Thomas R. Kimball, a nationally-known Omaha architect who designed the historic Omaha Library and was chief architect of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition, was commissioned to remodel the building to resemble the notable Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company Building in Chicago. Inside, Kimball directed the construction of a 41 by 43 foot atrium from the first floor to the roof, with a pyramidal skylight covering the central court. An open staircase on the west side of the court and an elevator in the southeast corner provided access to upper floors. The staircase and railings were cast-iron, bearing the initial of the Burlington. Glass blocks were fitted into the floor allowing light from the atrium to pass into the basement. The building remained virtually unchanged for the next 67 years.

The Burlington Railroad Company occupied the entire building until the company moved to new headquarters in Capitol Plaza in 1966. Many of the elements of Burlington Place are the same today as they were over 100 years ago, including the stairway and balconies. Part of the original cast-iron Farnam Street facade remains in the columns on either side of the front door. The original atrium elevator was replaced, but the new elevator occupies the same area as the original.