Visiting the National Willa Cather Center

Perhaps you'd like to learn more about the life of author Willa Cather. There's a place in Nebraska where you can do just that.

The National Willa Cather Center offers a great introduction into Willa Cather's world. You can find it in downtown Red Cloud. "The space itself was designed to be a living memorial to Willa Cather," Foundation Executive Director Ashley Olson said. "So, in addition to the museum exhibit, visitors have the opportunity to visit our art gallery, take in an event, and also take a guided tour of the Willa Cather historic sites. The most noteworthy of the historic sites that we own is Willa Cather's childhood home, which is a national historic landmark."

One of the goals of the National Willa Cather Center was to offer a climate-controlled area to house artifacts. "The Cather family has been very generous to the foundation, and gifted a number of artifacts," Olson said. "Our challenge prior to having the Cather Center was where to display the artifacts. This space gives us a climate-controlled archive to ensure long-term preservation, but also a space for researchers to come and work with the materials."

The entire block where you find the National Willa Cather Center has been renovated. "The opera house was revitalized first, and then the Moon Block is a five-bay two-story structure in downtown Red Cloud," Olson said. "Much of the building prior to the restoration, with the exception of a retail business or two, was mostly vacant. Today, it's restored into our archive and study space, loft apartments, and stores. We hope these changes result in even more activity downtown."

"We've been really fortunate," Olson said. "We have a great network of members and donors across the country. It was private support that allowed us to do this. We were very fortunate to receive support from a number of Nebraska foundations, and we also received federal grant funds for the project, and federal and state historic tax credits to help with the restoration."

If you'd like to visit the Willa Cather Center, it's open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a half day on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. During the summer, it's open seven days a week.