Willow Shade

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NRHP Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


Willow Shade was the childhood home of the renowned American author, Willa Cather. The gaunt, Greek Revival house was built ca. 1853 for Cather’s grandfather, William Cather, and his wife Emily Ann Caroline Smith Cather, both descendants of early Frederick County settlers. After Willa Cather’s birth nearby in 1873, her Cather grandparents moved to Nebraska and turned Willow Shade over to her parents. There she lived until age nine when she and her parents also moved to Nebraska. In her last novel, Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940), Cather immortalized Willow Shade when she wrote: “The slats of the green window shutters rattled, the limp cordage of the great willow trees in the yard was whipped and tossed furiously by the wind. I had been put in my mother’s bed so that I could watch the turnpike, then a macadam road with a blue limestone facing.”

Last Updated: June 2, 2023

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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