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Initial Construction on National Willa Cather Center Begins

Initial Construction on National Willa Cather Center Begins

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On October 9, 2014, phase one of construction began on the historic Moon Block building in downtown Red Cloud, Nebraska, which will become the National Willa Cather Center. "Beginning construction is a milestone in recognizing Willa Cather's enduring legacy. We are grateful to more than 350 individuals and foundations nationwide who have made this possible," said Honorary National Chair, Ken Burns.

The initial phase of construction will prevent further deterioration to the historic building and prepare it for reconfiguration and finishing work. Executive Director Ashley Olson stated, "After many years of careful planning, it's rewarding to see preliminary work proceed while we continue the campaign to raise the balance of funds necessary to begin the final phase of construction next spring."

When complete in 2016, the National Willa Cather Center's archive and public museum will safely house and provide access to countless original documents and objects related to the life and work of nationally-renowned author, Willa Cather. Other components include classroom and multimedia space, enlarged backstage facilities for the Red Cloud Opera House, exhibition space, an expanded bookstore, loft apartments for visitors, and street-level retail spaces.

The Willa Cather Foundation continues their capital campaign to raise the remaining $787,000 needed to bring the project to completion. The entire project is estimated to cost $6.7 million. To date, $5.9 million has been raised in private gifts and grants, including support from the Peter Kiewit Foundation, Robert B. Daugherty Foundation, and a community development block grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

Founded in 1955, The Willa Cather Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting understanding and appreciation of the life, time, settings, and work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather. The Foundation currently owns or manages eleven properties connected with Willa Cather, including a 612-acre prairie, her childhood home, and the Red Cloud Opera House. Conferences, seminars, as well as arts and humanities events are held by the Foundation year-round in Red Cloud and internationally.

Donors may send contributions to the Willa Cather Foundation, 413 North Webster Street, Red Cloud, NE 68970, or give online. For more information call the Foundation toll-free at 866-731-7304.

Currently in the Gallery: Jorn Olsen Photography

Documentary filmmaker and lifelong Willa Cather enthusiast Ken Burns is the honorary national chair for the Center's public fundraising effort. According to Burns, who announced the creation of the Center in an online video, "The Center will have something for everyone. As an archive and museum, it will become the permanent home to some of Willa Cather's most personal treasures, items made famous in her stories, and artwork inspired by her vision of the prairie. For scholars, it will be a chance to explore, firsthand, some of her most insightful original works and papers."

In addition to Burns, former First Lady Laura Bush has noted, "Willa Cather's literature gives voice to the values that define America's frontier heritage. By reading her words and promoting her contributions to western culture, we commemorate the pioneering spirit that distinguishes us a nation."

Click here to learn more about the creation of the new National Willa Cather Center. For more information or to get involved, contact Ashley Olson, Executive Director, aolson@willacather.org, 866-731-7304. Please donate by Spring 2015 and share the news on social media! #fundnwcc

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