Boys Town Logo
Boys Town Logo

The following is part of our Centennial Timeline Series, providing historical insight into each decade of Boys Town's history. Follow us on the 100-year journey begun by Father Edward J. Flanagan, a visionary whose mission was to change the way America cares for its children. Over the decades, Father Flanagan's work became internationally recognized, and Boys Town, the organization he started in 1917, has become a beacon of hope for children, families, and communities throughout the United States.

In this blog post, we take a trip back to Boys Town's first decade, where one man's determination and vision took root in a small downtown Omaha boarding house and grew to encompass a large campus west of the city.

On December 12, 1917, Father Edward Flanagan borrowed $90 from Henry Monsky to rent a boarding house at 25th and Dodge Streets in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. This marked the official opening of Father Flanagan's Home for Boys. Two years later, in 1919, the Home moved to the vacant German-American Home in South Omaha to accommodate the growing number of boys.

In 1921, Father Flanagan and the Home's youth moved to Overlook Farm, 10 miles west of Omaha. A year later, the Home broke ground for a new five-story main building. It was also in 1921 that one of the Home's youth, Reuben Granger, was photographed carrying fellow youth Howard Loomis on his back. The photograph would later become the inspiration for Boys Town's famous "Two Brothers" symbol.

In 1923, the Father Flanagan's Boys' Show began traveling in a Pullman railroad car named "The Overlook." The boys put on shows to raise money and awareness for the home.

In 1926, the boys voted to officially change the name of Overlook Farm to Boys Town.

Click through our slide show to see more photos.

Check out our interactive timeline to learn more about the first decade at Boys Town.​