“Rehab Roadshow” visits Red Cloud, highlights historic preservation efforts

“Rehab Roadshow” visits Red Cloud, highlights historic preservation efforts

June 26, 2024


by Jarrod McCartney, Red Cloud Heritage Tourism & Economic Development

RED CLOUD--Representatives from the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and regional leaders came to Red Cloud on Tuesday, June 18th and visited various sites that have received rehabilitation assistance including the Moon Block, the J.L. Miner House, and the Potter-Wright Building. 

The Moon Block received both federal and state historic tax credits. Built in 1886 and rehabilitated in 2016, the National Willa Cather Center (NWCC) opened in the space in 2017. NWCC is an arts and cultural center that serves as a living memorial to renowned writer Willa Cather. NWCC provides almost 20,000 square feet of space that includes a public museum, archive, research center, classroom, bookstore, art gallery, and performing arts center. There are also 3 business bays at street level, including On the Brix—a wine and craft beer bar. On the 2nd level, there are 3 apartments including Villa Willa which visitors can book via AirBnB. 

Ashley Olson, Executive Director of the Willa Cather Foundation (WCF), praised how SHPO’s efforts have helped her organization: “the office has been a tremendous resource to the WCF as we plan for preservation and rehabilitation projects. Their team is not only passionate about preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings, but also deeply knowledgeable about the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Historic Preservation.”

Access to the various funding programs available from SHPO have provided a significant boost to the Heritage Tourism development efforts that are ongoing in Red Cloud, a rural community of 962 that is 40 miles from the closest Wal-Mart or McDonald’s. 

According to Olson, “Without a doubt, the rehabilitation of the Moon Block into the National Willa Cather Center and the Potter-Wright building into the future site of Hotel Garber would not have been possible without the help of the Nebraska State Historic Tax Credit program.”

While a number of SHPO projects have occurred in Lincoln or Omaha, other parts of the state have benefitted from the programs including the Tri-Cities. Besides Red Cloud, SHPO funding has helped projects in small towns such as Walthill, Pender, Hartington, Fairbury, Loup City, Friend, and Chadron. The J.L. Miner House, featured prominently as the Harling House in Cather’s novel My Antonia, benefitted from the Rural Nebraska Historic Preservation (RNHP) grant, which will result in the repair and restoration of its front porch and trim. Projects in Fort Calhoun, Niobrara, Mason City, Schuyler, and Wauneta also received a RNHP grant. 

Red Cloud also benefits through the Certified Local Government (CLG) program. Red Cloud’s Historic Preservation Commission (RCHPC) is one of 9 CLGs in the state of Nebraska. CLGs provide grassroots wisdom and resources to encourage local preservation efforts. Communities all across Nebraska have discovered that historic preservation is an important tool for economic development, downtown revitalization, and heritage tourism. The Red Cloud HPC awards grants of up to $5,000 for historically appropriate exterior repairs or restorations. Properties must be listed on the local or national register and require a 50% match.


SHPO offers three historic tax credit programs in Nebraska. The Federal Tax Credit Program allows recipients to earn a 20% federal income tax credit for qualifying rehabilitation projects. Qualification requires an income-producing property and listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Nebraska Historic Tax Credit provides a state income tax credit of up to 30% in most areas. There is a project cap of $2 million in credits. To qualify the project must involve an income-producing property. State credits may be transferred or sold, which gives public or non-profit owned locations eligibility. Typically, properties need to be listed locally or in the National Register of Historic Places. The Value Incentive Program (VIP) freezes the assessed value of an approved property at the prehabilitation value for 8 years. After 8 years, the assessed value gradually increases over 4 years until the current assessed value is reached. This results in 12 years of reduced taxes. Eligibility is contingent on local or National Register listing, and can be used on commercial and all types of residential properties. 

For more information about these programs and other funding opportunities please contact Michael Sothan, SHPO Tax Incentive Coordinator at 402-540-3925 or michael.sothan@nebraska.gov or Betty Gillespie, Interim Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, at betty.gillespie@nebraska.gov or 402-525-4927.