Love’s Jazz & Arts Center (LJAC) is unique in that it is the only facility in the region to offer comprehensive African American Arts Exhibits, Performance-based Arts, cultural and historical preservation and archives of the contributions of African Americans, and African American based arts education. We are a place where students can learn about the rich cultural and heritage of Jazz music, an American original art form. The center explores the contributions of Omaha’s own legendary Jazz musician Preston Love Sr., along with others who made an impact on the world of Jazz from the corner of 24th & Lake Street in North Omaha.
Jazz History in Omaha
From the 1920s through the early 1960s the Near North Side neighborhood boasted a vibrant entertainment district featuring African American music. The main artery of North 24th Street was the heart of the city’s African-American cultural and business community with a thriving jazz and rhythm and blues scene that attracted top- flight swing, blues and jazz bands from across the country.
The most important venue was the storied Dreamland Ballroom, which was opened in the Jewell Building in 1923 at 24th and Grant Streets in the Near North Side neighborhood. Dreamland hosted some of the greatest jazz, blues, and swing performers, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and the original Nat King Cole Trio. Whitney Young spoke there as well. Other venues included Jim Bell’s Harlem, opened in 1935 on Lake Street, west of 24th; McGill’s Blue Room, located at 24th and Lake, and Allen’s Showcase Lounge, which was located at 24th and Lake. Due to racial segregation, musicians such as Cab Calloway stayed at Myrtle Washington’s at 22nd and Willis while others stayed at Charlie Trimble’s at 22nd and Seward. The intersection of 24th and Lake was the setting of the Big Joe Williams song “Omaha Blues”.
The Love’s Jazz and Arts Center is dedicated to telling the story of North Omaha Jazz, Preston Love, and Jazz in American History and using those stories to encourage understanding and excite the imagination.