Depots in general played a significant role in Willa Cather's writings. The original two-story section of the depot, constructed in 1897, is the building Cather was familiar with during her last years in Red Cloud. Red Cloud was on the main line of the Burlington and Missouri between Kansas City and Denver. At one time, eight passenger trains (and several grain and livestock trains) passed through town daily, making the Red Cloud Depot a busy and exciting place. The Burlington Depot houses an exhibit entitled The Burlington Railroad: Colonizing Cather's Wild Land.
This building, constructed in 1888 and known as the Garber Bank, was erected by Silas Garber, former Union Army Officer, the founder of Red Cloud (1871), and the third governor of Nebraska (1875-1879) who served two terms. Designed in by Lincoln, Nebraska, architects, the Farmers and Merchants Bank retains its Colorado stone façade, its marble steps, and its teller cages shipped by rail from Chicago.
A National Historic Landmark
The Childhood Home, the treasure of our restored buildings, contains many family artifacts including furniture, canned goods, prints and artwork, and family photographs and books. Grandma Boak's room is exactly as described in "Old Mrs. Harris." Upstairs, a "story within itself," is young Willa's (and Thea Kronborg's in The Song of the Lark) small attic bedroom; Willa wallpapered this room herself, taking the wallpaper as pay for her work at Dr. Cook's drug store. The same rose-covered wallpaper is there today.