Peony Park Ballroom
Opened: May 30, 1920
Destroyed by fire: February 23, 1925
Rebuilt and Reopened: May 30, 1925
In its place:
bank, grocery store, strip mall, parking lot
J.F. Rosenfield Peony Gardens
This charming garden spot was established in 1884 by the present owner. It contains now twenty-five acres of peonies in several hundred of the world's very choicest varieties. Blooming season extends from middle of May throughout June. They are at their best the first half of June. The grounds are open to the public.
This nursery, was located just outside the Omaha city limits at 77th street and the Old Lincoln Highway, the current 77th & Cass Street. People would drive from all over the country to view the flowers. Omaha's Peony Park, located across the street, took its name from the gardens. The Lincoln Highway, running past, was the first highway across America linking the Atlantic to the Pacific and in 1913 the route through Nebraska was announced. Lincoln Highway followed Dodge Street until about 76th Street when it veered to the northwest toward 78th & Cass past these gardens.
[Source: Omaha Public Library Omaha History Clipping File-Peony Park]
Parks About Omaha Thrown Open Today
Peony Park, opposite Peony farm, is a natural plot of ten acres. There is a lake just east of the new dance pavilion. Canoes are provided for this popular sport. A feature of the dance floor is that there are no pillars to obstruct the freedom of the dancers. The place is under the management of Joseph, Jerry and Godfrey Malec, brothers.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated May 29, 1921]
Owner Denies Liquor Flows At Peony Park
Relative to anonymous charges made to Sheriff Mike Clarke Thursday that liquor flows at Peony park on the West Dodge road, Joseph Malec, proprietor of the park, has issued a denial of these charges and has challenged anyone to prove such assertions.
Mr. Malec says his place is on a level with the best and most respectable parks of the country.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated June 11, 1921]
Owners of Peony Park Purchase More Acres
Rest and Recreation Addition “Not for Merry-Go-Rounds” They Say
Dodge Plots Go Fast
Malec Bros., owners and operators of Peony park, in the southwest corner of West Dodge Acres, at the junction of Dodge street and Underwood avenue, last week bought three acres more of West Dodge Acres, their purpose being to beautify the grounds with parking and playground space.
The owners of Peony park expect to make of their place a high grade suburban park for recreation and rest purposes. They say it will not be an amusement park for merry-go-rounds or other apparatus of that nature.
Hastings & Heyden, realtors who developed and are selling West Dodge Acres, announce that several homesite tracts are being sold there every week.
“Most of the Dodge street frontage is now gone,” Secretary Reed of the company said, “and the other tracts are being purchased rapidly, because every one of them is either on paving, or within less than one minute from the paving.”
Hastings & Heyden have put in the addition this year more than a mile of concrete paving, which has been paid for by the firm.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated July 29, 1923]
Peony Park Pavilion Destroyed By Flames
Popular Dance Hall Burns to Ground Before Firemen Arrive
Peony Park dance hall, two miles west of Fair Acres on the West Dodge road, burned to the ground early this morning and was a total loss, estimated by one of the owners, Robert Malec, to be 22 thousand dollars.
There had been no dance at the hall, Malec said, and he was at a loss to explain how the fire began. There was no heating plant other than a stove, he said, and no one had been seen about the place during the night.
The fire alarm was sounded by Dundee residents who saw the flames leaping toward the skies. The report was registered at 1:05 o’clock, and before the fire department could arrive, the place had been leveled.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), February 23, 1925]
Peony Park Pavilion Fire Loss is $32,000
Forces From Four Omaha Stations Race to Place Far Outside City Limits, But Fail To Save It
Peony Park dance pavilion burned at 1:05 o’clock this morning with a loss estimated by Joseph Malec, one of the owners, at 32 thousand dollars, two-thirds of which was covered by insurance. It will be rebuilt at once.
The pavilion, located Seventy-seventh and Dodge streets, far outside the city limits, could not be saved when firemen reached it from four Omaha stations. Efforts to save a grocery store nearby and an oil filling station owned by the Malec brothers, were successful, water being pumped on the blaze from a lagoon.
Joseph Malec, joint owner with Jerry and Robert Malec, said he heard an explosion and thought it was the distillate used for fuel oil, but this proved not to have burned.
Dundee residents saw the reflection of the blaze in the sky and gave the alarm by calling the fire operator’s attention to it. Assistant Chief John Coyle said it was only by good fortune that adjoining buildings were saved. The lagoon held little water save what had drained into it from the day’s rain.
[Source: Evening World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), February 23, 1925]
Peony Plans Opens Today
The Largest and Most Beautiful Dance Pavilion in the City
Yes! Decoration Day is to be the opening day of the beautiful Peony Park dancing pavilion.
A few months ago a stormy fire destroyed the frame structure which housed some of Omaha’s most polite dancing crowds. It has been replaced by a real brick building which will offer comfort and real entertainment for those who desire the best the year around.
A dance floor, fee of posts, measures 70x112 feet. Driveways lead through two covered entrances, which permit of any kind of weather. The dance floor itself will accommodate 1,200 to 1,500 people. A free concert will be held two weeks from Sunday and the public is invited to enjoy this treat and inspect our new home.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), May 30, 1925]
New Peony Park Pool
Other improvements for the district include a swimming pool planned for Peony Park. The park itself has been greatly beautified during the past year, and the dance floor is one of the most popular of the city.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated October 18, 1925]
Peony Park Model Bathing Beach Opens
Today sees the opening of the new model bathing beach at Peony park, Seventy-seventh and Dodge streets. “A great deal of time, effort and money has been spent to make this beach the finest in the country,” says J. Malick, owner of the park, “and we are glad to open the pool to the public. Dancing in our new ballroom will be restricted to couples as usual.”
“The new pool is 580 feet long and is fed constantly by eight spring wells. The beach and pool bottom is covered with eight inches of sand laid on a solid rock foundation. The diving boards and slides are built to standard specifications furnished by the national association. The new bathhouse is a model of convenience and cleanliness. The life savers have all passed the master life savers tests supervised by Pete Wendell.”
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated June 12, 1926]
Bathing Day And Night
Dancing Every Night
Saturday, May 28
Ballroom and Beach Open Every Day
Special Entertainment Decoration Day!
Limousine Service from 49th and Dodge Streets, 15¢, Tel. WA. 6253
Season Bathing Tickets Now On Sale
Arrange For Picnics
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated May 22, 1927]
Ejected – Sues Park
A suit for five thousand dollars against Joseph and Robert Malec, managers of Peony Park, was filed Friday in district court by Ben Civin, draftsman for the Nebraska Power company, who alleges that while his company, who alleges that while his company was holding a picnic at the park he was violently ejected from the dance floor. His teeth were loosened and he was bruised, Civin asserts.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), July 24, 1927]
Swimming Pool at Peony Park Opens Thursday
The Peony Park bathing beach, where more than 50 thousand people swam last year, will be opened again for the season on Thursday, Memorial Day. The all-sand pool and beach already is covered with the sparkling water furnished by several artesian wells under it and temperature of the water late last week was reported at about 68 degrees. From 70 to 72 degrees is proper bathing temperature and this will be reached easily by Thursday, park officials say.
Another change will be that there will be dancing in the ballroom every night, starting Thursday, instead of three nights a week as during the winter. Vern Grooms and his Peonians will continue to hold forth and specialty entertainers and novelties will be offered from time to time, Mr. Grooms says. Tonight, Mr. Grooms is offering O.C. Winn, “Omaha’s colored jazz singer.”
President Malec of the park says that a number of improvements have been made in the bathing facilities during the winter. Important among these is improvement in the women’s section of the bath-house, where boots have been arranged so that clothing will not be soiled or dampened.
The Peony Park pool is unique in the middle west in that it has a sand bottom. This was made possible by laying a stratum of crushed lime over the “gumbo” clay which forms a natural bowl for the pool. Over this leakproof foundation were laid several carloads of sand the beach has remained in perfect shape since it opened several years ago.
Diving boards are built to A.A.U. and Olympic specifications and many swimming meets are held there each summer.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated May 26, 1929]
Summer Opening Marks Peony Park Tenth Anniversary
Memorial day this year, Friday, May 30, will be the tenth anniversary of the establishment of Peony Park. It will mark completion of a decade of growth and success of this purely Omaha organization, which has been headed by three brothers, Joseph, Robert and Jerry Malec, and which has been financed by no other capital than that invested by Omahans.
On May 30, 1920, the Malecs opened the first Peony Park dancing pavilion, a frame building which many Omahans will remember. When, five years later, the pavilion caught fire and burned to the ground, it was replaced with the present modern edifice.
When the first pavilion was built, it stood in the middle of a pasture. But by the time the new one was erected, landscaping of the whole property had transformed it. The next step was the removal of a natural pond, and its replacement by the modern sand-bottom swimming pool which now is the park’s biggest feature.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated May 4, 1930]
Peony Park Contract Let to Omaha Concern
The Omaha Fixture and Supply company has been awarded a five thousand dollar contract to supply chairs, tables and other equipment necessary to increase the Peony Park ballroom to one thousand person capacity.
Development of the new commercial district south of Peony Park by the Peony Park corporation went forward last week with awarding of sewer contracts to the Peterson Construction company. An artesian well is being drilled and will supply all the water for the tract. The three million gallon bathing pool in the park is kept filled by other artesian wells on the property.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated May 18, 1930]
Peony Plans Season of Winter Dancing
The popularity of speciality nights at Peony Park has proven to be such a feature that the management has announced that the policy will again be enlarged upon for the remainder of the winter season.
In addition to the night club girl revue and floor show featured on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the park will include added specialties. Fridays will be Varsity night, with attractions for Omaha’s collegiate youth. Saturday will be termed “Whoopee Night.” Sundays will be Variety nights, when the park promises something out of the ordinary.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), September 14, 1930]
Next winter it may be possible for ice skaters to ignore the weather’s whimsies. Joe Malec is talking about constructing a roofed rink at Peony Park. The Malec boys are becoming dealers in all forms of water – liquid for swimming, steam on the dance floor and now, perhaps, solid for skating.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), March 10, 1934]
Peony Park’s Dance Resort Opens Tonight
New Royal Grove, Peony Park’s dance resort, will open tonight, Joseph Malec, manager, has announced, with Red Sievers and his orchestra playing for dancing and Estopare and his seven Royal Rumbaliers entertaining between dances.
Sievers’ band comes here from an exclusive Minneapolis resort. The Rumbaliers recently were featured with Paul Whiteman’s orchestra.
The cushioned dance floor at the park has been enlarged to 14 thousand square feet, making it one of the six largest of its kind in the country. Six hundred chairs and tables have been added, giving the grove a seating capacity of 3,500. Tables are on terraces in the manner popular in California. Gardens, lighting and stage effects also have been improved. There will be dancing every night except Monday. The swimming pool is also opening for the summer with Anton Zukas in charge and George Threadgill assisting.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), May 30, 1935]
Peony Ballroom to Be Enlarged
Extensive remodeling of the ballroom at Peony Park at a cost of about 50 thousand dollars has been announced by Joseph Malec, manager. Work has already begun.
Plans call for enlargement of the dance floor, and construction of elevated terraces along the sides, with tables to be arranged in tiers, to give those seated an unobstructed view of the dancers, Malec said.
Hallways and aisles will be carpeted, and more colorful furniture installed to accommodate more than 1,100 people, according to Malec.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), January 21, 1940]
Dance Floor ‘Jacked Down’
Unique Process Used to Create Terrace
A unique construction job which involved lowering a 125 by 75-foot floor 18 inches was carried out in the remodeling of the Peony Park ballroom to create the Peony terrace just completed.
The entire floor of the ballroom was lowered by a process seldom used in any kind of construction project. Earth and foundations under the floor were dug out and the floor lowered by use of many jacks placed under it. It was “jacked down” in a slow process to prevent twisting or breaking. A new foundation was built.
The floor-lowering was part of the 40 thousand remodeling job at Peony. Although it added 18 inches to the distance between floor and ceiling, new lighting effects and the two-level terrace built for tables at the sides make the ceiling look lower.
New railings, over a mile of new carpeting, new bandstand equipment and new fluorescent lighting effects created by miles of tubing were part of the remodeling job. Work was started January 2, completed a week ago.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated March 24, 1940]