Robin's Website

Boys Town, Nebraska

The village of Boys Town, a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska, was established in 1917 as the headquarters of the Boys Town organization. The organisation was founded by Father Edward J. Flanagan and is dedicated to the care, treatment, and education of at-risk children, regardless of colour or creed. Boys Town is sometimes also referred to as "Father Flanagan's Boys' Home". A little background on Boys Town, follows, along with some photographs of the site, taken during a visit here in August, 2017.

Above: Boys Town Pylon

Father Edward J. Flanagan was a young Irish priest whom, in 1917 had grown discouraged in his work with homeless men in Omaha, Nebraska. He came to the conclusion that he could do so much more to prevent the damage he saw in these men if he started helping the younger boys he saw who were living in the streets of the city. On 10th December of that year, he opened his first Home for Boys, in a rented boarding-house in the city’s downtown area, sheltering five boys - three from the Juvenile Court and two homeless newsboys.

In 1921, he then bought Overlook Farm on the outskirts of the city and moved his Boys' Home here. This was later to be renamed “Boys Town” and the former farm is indeed still the location in use today. In 1936, the community officially became a village in the state of Nebraska. In 1943, Boys Town adopted as its image and logo a sculpture of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, captioned "He ain't heavy, Father, he's my brother.” In 1985, the Boys Town property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Today, the village, with a population of approximately 700, is the national headquarters of the Boys Town organisation. Boys Town is a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for its children and families. Their family-style residential programme also operates today in other locations throughout the United States. It is one of the largest non-profit child and family care organizations nationally and provides effective, compassionate treatment through their services, touching the lives of more than 2 million people each year. Programmes on offer include in-home family services (which help keep parents and children together in their own homes), a national hotline, a research hospital (which specialises in childhood deafness and related communication disorders) and the Boys Town Education Training Programme, which helps over 200,000 educators, students and parents nationwide each year.

The philosophy of Boys Town may be summarised in the words of Father Flanagan himself:

"Our young people are our greatest wealth. Give them a chance and they will give a good account of themselves. No boy wants to be bad. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking."

Above: Gift Shop and Visitors Center

As well as the Visitors ​Center, which also has a gift shop, popular attractions at Boys Town for the visitor include the Leon Myers Stamp Center (a museum and office and home of the World’s largest stamp ball), the Hall of History, the Dowd Memorial Chapel, Garden of the Bible, the Chambers Protestant Chapel, Father Flanagan’s House and its adjacent Rose Garden. More information on some of these may be found further down this page.


The Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (above) has stood at the centre of the Village of Boys Town for over 70 years. It was built in the style of a 15th-century Gothic church and stands as a symbol of the organisation’s commitment to helping troubled youth find a positive balance of the spiritual, intellectual and physical.

Above: Father Flanagan's Tomb, located adjacent to the nave on the west side of The Dowd Memorial Chapel

Above: Garden of the Bible

The Herbert B. Chambers Protestant Chapel of the Nativity of Our ​Lord (above) is the spiritual ​​home for the  Protestant youth of Boys Town. Inside, the altar area is decorated with terracotta tiles designed by the children.

The Father Flanagan House museum (above) is the former residence of Boys Town’s founder, Father Edward Flanagan. The house was built in 1927 and Father Flanagan’s lived here until 1941, when he moved to the rectory of Dowd Memorial Chapel. The décor and furnishings of the house are maintained in styles dating 1929, during the time when Father Flanagan would have been in residence here. Adjacent to the house is the Rose Garden, which dates back to the 1930’s. Father Flanagan encouraged gardening as a positive outdoor activity for children.

The Hall of History (above) contains a permanent exhibition presenting the unique history of Boys Town. It explains how the Boys Town programmes developed and how the mission continues to change the way America cares for children and families. Artefacts on display include a Flex bus that once carried Boys Town athletic teams across America and the Best Actor Oscar presented to Spencer Tracy for his role as Father Flanagan in the motion picture “Boys Town”. Some of the exhibits on show here are shown in the thumbnail gallery below (click on an image to enlarge):

Above: The Work Continues Statue

Above: A Girl's Dream Statue

Above: Old Dormitories

Above: Boys Town High School

Above: Vocational Career Center

Above: Skip Palrang Memorial Field House

[Photos: August 2017, Text: January 2018]

References and Further Information

1. In-Situ information Boards and Literature
2. Official Website Here
3. A link to the IMDB page on the Oscar winning film Boys Town (1938) may be found Here

Back to Top