The Mayhew Cabin & Historic Village Board announced Tuesday its purchase of the former John Brown’s Cave gift shop building at 2010 Fourth Corso.



“This is a great opportunity for this site to develop as a first rate attraction for Nebraska City and tell the story of the Underground Railroad,”said board director Bill Hayes.


The Mayhew Cabin & Historic Village Board announced Tuesday its purchase of the former John Brown’s Cave gift shop building at 2010 Fourth Corso.

“This is a great opportunity for this site to develop as a first rate attraction for Nebraska City and tell the story of the Underground Railroad,”said board director Bill Hayes.

The museum had used the building as a main entrance, gift shop and display area under an arrangement with its former owner, Rebecca Engle, but was asked to vacate under a bank foreclosure action in 2007.

Hayes said the grounds remained open to visitors, but promoters faced the difficult challenge of countering the perception that Mayhew Cabin had had closed.

The purchase of the building, which Hayes said was made possible by a $50,000 donation from the Wirth Foundation, restores the main entrance, provides restrooms and opens the door to expand on the museum’s mission.

Displays are planned to focus on the Mayhew family, general history of the Underground Railroad and the abolition movement.

The building will also host a classroom and theater area to accommodate programs, such as those currently planned with the Grand Army of the Republic and Civil War Museum in Nebraska City and Black History Month at Peru State College.

Hayes, who has been director since 2008, said the building is important to create a cohesive property and museum experience.

“The way the property sits, if another owner had put in a fence, it was going to be very difficult for us to adjust to the situation,” he said.