At the corner of Sixth and Seward stands the Cather family’s second home. They lived here from 1904 until the death of Cather’s parents (father in 1928, mother in 1931). Willa Cather's parents purchased this home in 1903 and left their little rented home at Third and Cedar where Willa had spent her formative years. She was 30 at the time. Over the next 28 years, Willa often visited her family in this house during summers and occasionally for Christmas. It has been reported that she used to put up a tent-like awning on the upper front porch and spent a great deal of time there.
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.
Built in 1878, the Miner house is one of the finest historic homes in Red Cloud. Although a more simplified, vernacular interpretation of the Italianate style, the house is the best example of the style in Red Cloud. Willa Cather's first playmate in Red Cloud was Mary Miner. Cather became friends with all of the Miner children, but especially Carrie. She wrote to Carrie regularly throughout her life, and her book My Ántonia is dedicated "To Carrie and Irene Miner, In memory of affections old and true." The J.L.
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.
When I go about among little Nebraska towns, the thing I miss most is the Opera House." —Willa Cather, Personal Interview
It was here that Annie Pavelka, the prototype for Ántonia, baptized her baby and later married. The building, erected in 1883 and used until 1903, later became a residential home. Visitors will notice the "poor man's stained glass" windows and the lack of a bell in the belfry. These are important reminders of the economic divisions in Red Cloud. The priest didn't live in Red Cloud, instead traveling by train to give Mass. The train engineer would blow the whistle in a special way if the priest was aboard to let the parishioners know that Mass was about to begin.