130 West Broadway – City Bakery – James Clark Nicoll

by | Historic Homes

The history they lived in wasn’t always a house. Sometimes they lived above the family business. Such was the case with the Nicoll family.

James Clark Nicoll and Amelia (Hutton) Nicoll came to Council Bluffs in 1871 from Perth, Scotland. They brought with them their five children: James Clark Nicoll II (age ten), George (nine), Frank (five), David (three) and William (one). After they arrived in Council Bluffs, they had two more children: Amelia, who died as a young child, and Margaret.

James Nicoll was a baker. His store, City Bakery, was located on the north side of Broadway. Family history indicates it was across the street from the Ogden Hotel. City directories did not include specific house or business numbers. Nicoll was listed in the 1880-1881 city directory as “Nicoll James, bakery ns Broadway e Market -2nd. res same.”

In the summer of 1884, James Nicoll built a new brick building at 130 West Broadway and moved his home and business to the new location.. City Bakery was thriving.

On the morning of March 17th, 1885, according to the newspaper and family accounts, his body was found lying frozen in about 15 inches of water in a ditch on Tenth Avenue, leading into Indian Creek. He had left home about eight o’clock on the previous evening. When found, he was without hat, shoes or stockings.” He was 52 years of age. An investigation was held, but the mystery surrounding his death was never solved.

130 W. Broadway, J.C. Nicoll

According to the newspaper accounts, he left “a wife and five children, all of whom with one exception resided with the parents”. His son, James C. Nicoll II, became chief of police in Council Bluffs. Two of his sons held positions with Western Union Telegraph- George, in Council Bluffs and Frank in Omaha. David was a typesetter for the Nonpareil. Margaret was a homemaker for her brothers.

The Nicolls are buried in Fairview Cemetery.

The 100 Block was the business district of the early Mormon settlement in the valley of Indian Creek. The area was known as “Miller’s Hollow”. The stores, mostly outfitting stores built of wood, were destroyed by fire in 1853-1854 and subsequently replaced by brick buildings.

The building erected by James Nicoll replaced a one-story bakery. The nomination of the district to the National Register of Historic Places notes the elaborate pressed metal cornice on top with a simpler metal cornice above the storefront, and the second-floor tri-partite windows with decorative stone or pre-cast hoodmolds (see photo). The original entry was recessed, with double doors. The building, still standing, remained a bakery well into the twentieth century.

The 100 Block of West Broadway, a Local Landmark, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source Material

Preserve Council Bluffs acknowledges the following sources of information for this series: National Register of Historic Places nominations, the reference department of the Council Bluffs Public Library, the auditor’s office of the Pottawattamie County courthouse, Council Bluffs Community Development Department, homeowners, family members and individual research, and, for this story, great-great-granddaughter Micki O’Neill.

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Preserve Council Bluffs is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and preserve the heritage of Council Bluffs through its architecture, sites, and people.

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