The Blackstone Hotel

The address 302 S. 36th St. is home to a large, lovely, obviously older building. Currently named Kamton Cottonwod Hotel, it was formerly known as the Blackstone Hotel. Built in 1915 by the Bankers Investment Realty Company, the Blackstone Hotel actually started out as a “residential, or family, hotel” (Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission np). Guests would rent rooms or suites for a year and received hotel service.

In 1920, the Blackstone was purchased by Charles Schimmel and “Symbol of elegance” for Omahans. Schimmel renovated the building to serve as a hotel (Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission np) and was known as the grandest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. Despite its small business status, it hosted people such as President John and First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy. Richard Nixon announced his candidacy for presidency at the Blackstone from the beautiful rooftop ballroom, The Orleans. Some other dignitaries and movie stars such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Ginger Rogers, Jimmy Steward, and Bob Hope all graced rooms at the Blackstone. (The History of Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel in Omaha np).

To keep up the theme of sandwiches referred to above, it is believed that the Rueben sandwich originated either in Lincoln at the Cornhusker or in Omaha at the Blackstone; Schimmel owned both. However, no one can deny that the Blackstone came up with the recipe for the delicious butter brickle ice cream. (

In 1968, the Radisson chain of hotels purchased the Blackstone Hotel until 1970 when the building finally closed. However, in the 1980s it became an office building. This ownership-revolving building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 (6News np).

Finally, in 2019, yet another change was in order when Clarity Development purchased the building and began a $75 million renovation of the building returning it to its former glamor and sophistication. The developer says the renovation is in tune with the other renovations in the Blackstone area. According to Tom McLeary of Clarity Development, the developer’s goal is to “Bring back the glory of what we think was really the best hotel in the Omaha market” (np). One of the more glorious rooms of the hotel was the Orleans ballroom. Exquisite in its barrel-style arched ceiling, the room does not require much to bring it back to its original glamour (McLeary qtd in 6News np).

According to TripAdvisor, the hotel has been given a 4 ½ star rating. The price on the website lists a one-night stay at $100. Not too bad for a luxury hotel in the heart of midtown Omaha. If I were travelling through the area, with its history and seemingly glamourous interior, I would likely give the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel a glance. That is if I am out of Marriott points.