In 1989, ConAgra, the second largest agricultural distributor in the United States, commissioned a new executive and corporate headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. Construction required the demolition of twenty-four buildings in a district known as Jobbers' Canyon, six city blocks between 8th and 10th Streets, bounded by Jackson on the south and Farnam on the North. This area was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is considered the largest lost site on record. Its central location, railway connections and convenience for Midwestern agricultural producers made Jobbers' Canyon known throughout the nation as a hub for wholesale warehousing and distribution. "Jobbers" and "jobbing" identified the business practices of the wholesale purchasing and selling of goods to store-owners from the mid-1850s to the early years of the twentieth century, and remained a popular local term.

The buildings in question were largely masonry and timber frame warehouse constructions. They were well-known as examples of the Renaissance Revival style of their day. This style also contributed to the emergence of the "Realism" in warehouse architecture that established itself across the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century. Some of the individual buildings had been included in the National Registry earlier, but it was not until 1988 that the entire district was designated for recognition and preservation. At the time of demolition, plans had already been made for the rehabilitation and improvement of several of the buildings, in an effort to revitalize Omaha's downtown area. When plans were announced to replace Jobbers' Canyon with the ConAgra building, several local historic organizations and citizens' groups vehemently defended the need to preserve these architectural treasures. Unfortunately, ConAgra continued building, despite alternative proposals to allow the corporation to construct its headquarters alongside the district and so preventing its demolition.

In this work, ten of the buildings that were located in Jobbers' Canyon have been digitally rebuilt using preserved records and architectural drawings made by some prominent Omaha and Midwestern architects like Charles Cleves, John Latenser, and the Fisher and Lawrie firm. The original construction materials have been substituted with ConAgra products. By this means, the recreated buildings once again collapse under the pressure of this corporation. Each building is also accompanied by text from the official nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places Inventory, detailing the historical and architectural significance of the structure. These temporary digital monuments are as a homage to the buildings themselves as well as being an expression of appreciation for a Midwestern legacy whose architectural, commercial and cultural roots remain of value.


Nicholas O'Brien is an artist, curator, researcher, and writer focused on the ways in which nature continues to hold relevance in digital representation as well as the influence of language upon the development and use of network technology. His work has been published and exhibited internationally, including The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Xth Biennale de Lyon, the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, and at the Copenhagen Space in London. He has curated shows at 319 Scholes in Brooklyn, Kunsthalle New in Chicago, and The Future Gallery in Berlin. As a regular contributor to online publications Bad at Sports and his work has also been featured on ARTINFO, Art Fag City, The Creators Project, and Rhizome.

A Temporary Memorial Project for Jobbers' Canyon Built with ConAgra Products is a 2011 Commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the National Endowments of the Arts. This work is protected under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, all embedding requests should be made toward the artist and/or New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. Additional special thanks are made to Lynn Meyer - who drafted the National Register nomination, Jo-Anne Green and Helen Thorington from, facilities at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Tamas Kemenczy for technical guidance/supervision, and my family George, Pam, and Ben.


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