In 1917, a 31-year-old Irish priest made a world of difference in the lives of countless children when he founded a home for troubled boys. That priest was Father Edward Flanagan, and his big heart and good deeds have resonated in the lives of families for nearly 100 years.
While running a home for destitute men, Father Flanagan realized that many of them had suffered through abuse or neglect as children.
He reasoned that, if he could reach out and help troubled boys, they could grow up to become productive members of society rather than criminals and drifters.
Boys Town was originally based in a rented Victorian mansion in downtown Omaha.
Five boys with troubled backgrounds moved into the home with Father Flanagan in the hopes of pursuing brighter futures than the ones that life had laid out for them. Some were homeless and some were referred by the court system.
The number of enrolled boys grew quickly. So quickly, in fact, that the organization had to move to a larger facility just a few months after opening.
The new building soon became too small for all of the boys involved in Father Flanagan's program. He searched for the perfect property, and when he found it 10 miles outside of Omaha he was told that it wasn't for sale. After pleading his case with the property owner, Father Flanagan was able to buy that farm. Although Boys Town has expanded considerably since then, it has stayed in the same location since 1921.
That group of five boys kept growing and growing until more than a hundred troubled boys called the new little village home.
Father Flanagan established elementary and high schools to ensure that the boys got the education they would need to help them succeed in life. A vocational center was established to teach the boys a trade that they could use to support themselves. In 1979, Boys Town began accepting at-risk girls into its programs.
Today, the organization provides services to troubled children and families in a variety of settings.
The Boys Town campus is officially its own village, encompassing 900 acres. Some of the homes are individual family homes and some are group homes. Boys Town has created some very successful behavioral guides and training for parents and teachers to help them relate to at-risk youth.
Most of the town is accessible to visitors, including Father Flanagan’s former home, the Hall of History and Dowd Memorial Chapel.
Pictured above is the Herbert B. Chambers Protestant Chapel of the Nativity of Our Lord. Some of the most incredible sights in the village are the beautiful gardens, statues, and fountains. The world’s largest ball of stamps is also here, located in the Visitors Center. There is even a display that tells visitors all about the Academy Award-winning 1938 film
Boys Town starring Spencer Tracy.
The town itself is a treasure, both for Nebraska and for the country. The work they do is even more impressive. Find out more about Boys Town at
their official site.