Foundation Hopes To Have National Cather Center Ready By 2016

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Updated: Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:57:08 CST

Just in the nick of time, the Willa Cather Foundation announced today they've met a challenge grant deadline.

Raising nearly 6 million dollars to help build the National Cather Center in Red Cloud, a place to honor the legacy of the Nebraska author. But, with 900,000 dollars to go they're not done yet.
Ashley Olson, Executive Director: "It's very exciting. This project has been in the planning phases for several years."

Cather's name is synonymous with Red Cloud.

Ashley Olson: "We feel she is one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century."

Willa Cather spent just a short part of her life in Red Cloud, but those years left a lasting impact.
Tracy Tucker, Education Director: "The suicide grave, the cemetery and all the places she writes about in the novel, they're really here."

From the annual Willa Cather Conference to town tours that include her childhood home, Cather's legacy attracts over 10,000 people to Red Cloud each year.
Tracy Tucker: "There's various things in here, telegrams... there's some manuscript things here."

With nowhere to display many of Cather's belongings, thousands of artifacts currently sit in storage.
Tracy Tucker: "These storefronts will be renovated into the National Willa Cather Center and will display nearly 5,000 of her personal and career related items."
In the final stage of fundraising, The Cather Foundation hopes the Center will be ready by 2016.
Tracy Tucker: "Create that state of the art archive space so that we can continue to care for these items so they are around for another lifetime."
Items that illustrate intimate details about the woman who some thought was uptight and stuffy.
Tracy Tucker: "We have a number of her items of clothing here and some of her purses and you can see they're anything but plain."

In the end, they hope to do more than just honor the author... but carry on her legacy.

Ashley Olson: "Hopefully get more people interested in reading her work and planning a visit to central Nebraska."

The foundation has 900,000 more dollars to raise. They're hoping to start preliminary construction efforts this fall.
If you'd like to contribute, you can send donations to the Willa Cather Foundation in Red Cloud.