RED CLOUD - One of Nebraska’s biggest cultural attractions is getting a bit of a make over.

Willa Cather’s Childhood Home in Red Cloud is going through restorations as part of historic preservation. Cather was a renowned author best known for her novels of living in the Great Plains. Ashley Olson is the executive director of the National Willa Cather Center and explained the historic significance of the home.

“This house was home to Willa Catcher and her parents and her siblings. Cather lived here from the ages of 10-16,” Olson said. “The house was used as a setting in one of her novels and couple of her short stories.”

Olson said this is the first restoration of the house in over 60 years. Work being done includes putting in a new roof and gutters, as well as restoration to windows. On the interior, there will be updating to the climate and electrical systems, and Cather’s attic bedroom will become air conditioned with climate control to preserve the proper environment for collections.

Funds for the project came from the National Park Service.

“It’s a Save America’s Treasures grant and is being matched dollar for dollar with private donations,” Olson said.

Olson says, in recent years, the house draws visitors from about 40 different states each year, with those coming from around the world before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This house is really the best place for visitors to visit the lived world of the Cather family,” Olson said. “People who have read Cather’s work know she’s really gifted in conveying a sense of place in her work,  and for those who really want to understand her experience as a resident of rural Red Cloud, this is a fantastic place to do that.”

Work being done is in the early stages and Olson says work to restore the house was important to history in Nebraska.

“Historic preservation has always been an important part of our mission, so the house itself is an important artifact and important collection piece for us,” Olson said. “We of course want to make this house a more interesting and immersive destination for people to come and learn about her life and her work.”