Potter Block Ceremonial Groundbreaking
Potter Block Ceremonial Groundbreaking

Potter Block Ceremonial Groundbreaking

Hotel Garber is Becoming a Reality

A standing-room only crowd of about 100 people gathered at the Potter Block (346 N. Webster Street, Red Cloud) on Friday, October 7, 2022, for a ceremonial groundbreaking. The event celebrated the recommencement of construction on the Potter Block building in downtown Red Cloud, which is being rehabilitated to become an event and lodging facility called Hotel Garber. While construction resumed earlier this summer, the ceremonial groundbreaking was an opportunity for the public to see the interior of the building before its transformation, preview updated architectural renderings, and hear about the project’s economic impact.

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. Construction efforts resumed in the summer of 2022 and are projected to be complete in 2024.

The rehabilitation project will return the building to its original splendor. When work is complete, the Potter Block will grow from a 16,500 square foot facility to a 22,500 square foot facility. In addition to guest rooms for overnight stays, the building will house event and meeting space, a spacious 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. When developed and conjoined to the National Willa Cather Center’s Farmers and Merchants Bank next door, the two buildings will become a mixed-use space, including gallery and exhibit areas that will highlight important milestones in Red Cloud’s history and connections to Willa Cather’s life and writing.

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). Over $5 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 $6 million.

About Hotel Garber

Hotel Garber will be a 27-room boutique hotel in downtown Red Cloud. The facility will help achieve tourism development and downtown revitalization goals by rehabilitating the Potter Block building, a 1901 structure that has been vacant and decaying for over twenty years. The hotel’s name is a nod to Silas Garber, a founder of Red Cloud, the third Governor of Nebraska, and prototype for Captain Forrester in Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady. When fully restored, the building will provide much-needed lodging for tourists 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. In the first ten years of operation, Hotel Garber is projected to add up to ten new jobs and generate $6.7 million in revenue and $800,000 in sales and lodging taxes. Construction is projected to be complete in the spring of 2024. Design services were provided by Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture of Omaha, Nebraska.

How You Can Help

Fundraising has reached 87% of the goal and you can help bring the fundraising effort to completion by making a charitable gift. Naming and recognition opportunities are available, and all gifts of $1,000 or more will be recognized on a donor walls. Tax-deductible charitable gifts can be made to the Willa Cather Foundation or the Red Cloud Community Fund. Donations of any amount are appreciated and pledges to the project are payable over a 5-year period. Contributions may be mailed to the Willa Cather Foundation, 413 N. Webster St., Red Cloud, NE, 68970. Donations may also be made online.

To discuss a gift, please contact Executive Director, Ashley Olson, at or Heritage Tourism Development Director, Jarrod McCartney, at

Photo Caption: Representing various organizations within Red Cloud, and the architecture firm, at the Hotel Garber ceremonial groundbreaking were, L-R: Jennifer Honebrink (Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture), Bob Thacker (President, Willa Cather Foundation), Justin Armstrong (Heritage Tourism Advisory Committee), Jay Yost (Heritage Tourism Advisory Committee), Jarrod McCartney (Heritage Tourism Development Director), Ashley Olson (Executive Director, Willa Cather Foundation), Dennis Hansen (Red Cloud Community Fund), Todd Mahin (Red Cloud Hotel Committee), Liz Rasser (Heritage Tourism Advisory Committee), Todd Brown (Mayor, City of Red Cloud).

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