Historic Potter Block
Rendering of Hotel Garber
Rendering of Hotel Garber

The Potter-Wright Building's New Life as Hotel Garber

Redevelopment to Provide Downtown Event Space and Guest Accommodations

Rehabilitation is underway and fundraising in the home stretch for the Potter-Wright Building's rehabilitation into Hotel Garber. The 1902 structure has been vacant for more than twenty years, and when complete, the rehabilitation project will return the building to its original splendor. A third flood that was lost to fire in 1961 was reconstructed in 2023, helping to increase the space from 16,500 square feet to a 22,500-square-foot facility.

The design will include a 27-room boutique hotel, meeting space, lounge, catering facilities, and a small library. Decor will serve a decorative and educational purpose, with curated selections featuring historic imagery of Red Cloud through the years.

In addition to aligning with our commitment to historic preservation, the property will help achieve tourism development and downtown revitalization goals. When conjoined to our Farmers and Merchants Bank next door, the two buildings will share an elevator to provide visitors with full access to our new permanent exhibit, Making a Place: A Long History of Red Cloud, about the history of the community and its intersections with Willa Cather’s life and art.  

The facility will help achieve downtown revitalization goals, and increase tourism development by providing much-needed lodging for guests and expanded meeting facilities for events and retreats. It will allow our visitors to the National Willa Cather Center to stay longer to enjoy the museum, the historic sites, the town, the Cather Prairie, and other scenic places Cather loved. An independent market feasibility study concluded that the market could support an additional 30-room lodging establishment.

Fundraising Goals

The project is a key priority for the National Willa Cather Center’s Campaign for the Future and Red Cloud’s Heritage Tourism Development Office, which launched in 2015 through a collaboration between the National Willa Cather Center, City of Red Cloud, Chamber of Commerce, and Red Cloud Community Fund (an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation). More than $7 million in donations, grants, and investments have been secured. Paired with up to $1 million in Nebraska Historic Tax Credits, total funds secured from all sources is over $8 million.

A $500,000 challenge grant to complete the fundraising has been offered and needs to be matched 2:1. Please consider supporting the project with a charitable gift. All gifts of $1,000 or more will be recognized on a donor wall, and pledges are payable over a five-year period.



Silas Garber Portrait

What's in a Name?

The hotel’s name is a nod to Silas Garber, a founder of Red Cloud and the third elected Governor of Nebraska. Silas and Lyra Garber were the prototypes for Mrs. and Captain Forrester in Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady. When conjoined to the National Willa Cather Center’s newly restored Farmers and Merchants Bank next door, the two buildings will share an elevator to provide access to exhibit areas that highlight important milestones in Red Cloud’s history, the role of banking and finance in town-building during the late 19th Century, and the Garbers connections to Willa Cather’s life and writing.

The new permanent exhibit Making a Place: A Long History of Red Cloud opened March 1, 2024.




The Red Cloud Creative Hub 

Red Cloud Creative District Logo

In addition to overnight accommodations, this mixed-use lodging and event venue will house a lower level Creative Hub that includes spaces for readings, workshops, art classes, meetings, and residencies. A Creative Hub within Hotel Garber aligns with the strategic goals of the Willa Cather Foundation and the newly established Red Cloud Creative District, which was recently certified by the Nebraska Arts Council. The Creative Hub will consist of two spacious classrooms and a catering kitchen to enable the launch a series of hands-on arts engagement classes, culinary classes, and workshops led by local artists or artists in residence. The addition of this space will allow residents of the region to embrace their creativity and will help to further establish Red Cloud as a destination for creatives.

Watch the Transformation
Tax-Deductible Contributions, Pledges, and Securities

Gifts of any and all sizes are welcome through charitable contributions made directly to our project partner, the Willa Cather Foundation, as part of its Campaign for the Future. Gifts to the campaign are tax-deductible, and all gifts designated specifically for this project will be invested by the Willa Cather Foundation into Red Cloud Hotel LLC. Commitments to the campaign are payable over a 5-year period, and can be made in a variety of ways: 

PLEDGE: Make a gift to the campaign, payable in a lump sum, or pledged over a five-year giving period. Payments can be made monthly, quarterly, annually, or structured according to your preferred schedule. You can satisfy your pledge through payments by check, direct deposit, or credit card.

GIFT OF SECURITIES: Gifts of appreciated assets, such as stock with a very low basis, make excellent charitable gifts. By donating your stock, you avoid costly gains and can significantly help this project at the same time. Your stock is gladly accepted as a gift to our campaign. We will be happy to assist you in transferring assets to complete your gift. 

Pledge Form

Naming Recognition Opportunities for Charitable Gifts
Donation Level Space Donor or Tribute
$500,000 Hotel Lounge/Dining In memory of Daniel Gibbon Norris
$250,000 Hotel Lobby  
$100,000 Lower Level Event Space  
  Catering Kitchen  
  Hotel Rooms (27 total; 22 remain) In memory of Katherine Norris Buffett
    In memory of Frederick Buffett
    In memory of Fred C. Buffett
    In honor of William Norris Buffett
    In memory of Mildred McCall
    In memory of Dr. Patricia Arneson
    Ana McCracken
$50,000 Hotel Business Center  
  Hotel Bar & Breakfast Nook Rick and Barb Kudrna & Family
  Hotel Vestibule  
  Bookshelves in Hotel Lobby Ana McCracken
$25,000 Hotel Manager's Office  
  Hotel Elevator Gottsch Cattle Company
  Hotel Check-in Desk In memory of Charles R. and Jennie Potter
  Basement Entry Stairwell John Thompson & Gary Thompson
  Northeast Entry Stairwell  
  Front Entry Staircase Heritage Bank
$10,000 Back Bar in Lounge Dennis & Sally Hansen
  Visitor Information Station John A (Jay) Yost & G. Wade Leak
$5,000 Dining Tables in Lounge  
$2,500 Framed Photography & Art

All donations of $1,000 or more will receive recognition on a donor wall inside Hotel Garber. A $2,500 donation will receive recognition on framed artwork and photography displayed throughout the building.

Construction Updates

Planning for this rehabilitation effort began as early as 2018. Basement excavation and underpinning that was completed in 2020 prepared the historic building to support the return of a third floor that was lost to fire in 1961. In the fall of 2023, the third floor was be rebuilt and other exterior improvements became more visible. Additional facade is ongoing. Interior framing and drywall work is now underway, along with rough-in for plumbing, electrical, and mechanical equipment. The final phase of construction is scheduled to be complete in 2024.

Street view of the Potter Block with construction fencing surrounding the brick structure
Summer 2023: Restoration begins on the of the facade. The building will be restored to its original 1901 design.
Building materials are added to the top of the Potter Block
Fall 2023: Crews begin adding a third story back to the building, which was lost to fire in 1961.
Potter-Wright Building, Fall 2023
Fall 2023: Reconstruction of the third floor continues.
Exterior rendering of Hotel Garber in March 2023 with a third floor now encapsulated
Spring 2024: Recent facade work has included replacement of brick and installation of precast stone under second floor windows.
Summer 2024: Brick is overlayed on the reconstructed third floor
Summer 2024: Brick is overlayed on the reconstructed third floor
More About Hotel Garber

This project aligns with our mission to advance Willa Cather's legacy through historic preservation. It will result in the adaptive reuse of a dilapidated downtown building into a 27-room one-of-a-kind hotel. Spacious lounge and dining areas on the first floor will be visible from the intersections of Highways 281 and 136, adding life and vibrancy to downtown Red Cloud. A street-level stairwell will be restored for lower-level entry into the Red Cloud Creative Hub at Hotel Garber. Memorable guest rooms will spotlight artwork featuring historic Red Cloud, while the public areas will exhibit objects from the town’s rich history. 

In addition to the project team, we are incredibly grateful for gifts from many generous individuals and foundations, as well as the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Arts Council, and the State Historic Preservation Office / Nebraska State Historic Tax Credit program.

Project Partners and Collaborators:

Logos: Red Cloud Community Fund, Tru-Built Construction, Project Advocates, The National Willa Cather Center, Red CLoud Creative District, Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture

 Thank You:

Nebraska Department of Economic Development Logo