- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

RED CLOUD, Neb. (AP) - A new National Willa Cather Center that will include a museum and public archive is being planned for the celebrated author’s Nebraska hometown of Red Cloud.

The Willa Cather Foundation said Tuesday that in addition to the museum and archive, the almost 20,000-square-foot facility will include a research center, classroom, bookstore and art gallery, dressing rooms and backstage facilities for the Red Cloud Opera House and retail space. There also will be three residences to house visitors.

The center will occupy Red Cloud’s historic “Moon Block” building following a restoration. It was built in 1886.

Cather’s books were influenced by her travels and her life in Nebraska and Virginia, including her classics “My Antonia” and “O Pioneers!” She was born in 1873 in Frederick County, Va., and lived for nine years in Back Creek Valley before moving with her family to Nebraska. The family resettled to Red Cloud in 1885. It’s a town of about 1,000 people in south-central Nebraska.

She graduated from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in 1895.

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is honorary national chairman for the public fundraising effort. In a video announcing the center, Burns said the center “will become the permanent home to some of Willa Cather’s most personal treasures, items made famous in her stories, and artwork inspired by her vision of the prairie.”

The foundation must raise $144,000 by June 30 to meet a $400,000 challenge grant offered by the Peter Kiewit Foundation of Omaha.

Foundation board President Tom Gallagher said most of the money for the project has come from state and federal grants, private donations and foundations. The fundraising goal is $5 million.

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Online: www.willacather.org