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Cindy Lovell <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 12 Jun 2012 23:12:14 -0400
text/plain (181 lines)
Dear Terrell (with apologies to all
who already know the history),

With all due respect, I cannot allow you to malign 
the late Herb Parham, whose foresight and generosity 
regarding the museum have to date been unparalleled.

1. He and his family paid for the museum gallery.

2. He and his family constructed the Huck Finn
House and dedicated it to the memory of their
son, Austin, a fine man, I am told, who died too
young at the age of cancer. To say "he should
have" done anything is disrespectful. He gave
generously of his own money. To build a memorial
to his son was his right. Having watched my own
parents bury my brother at the age of 22, I am
sensitive to parents' wishes when they've lost a
child. Just today I was visiting with Merrilyn
Parham, Austin's widow. She is a volunteer
in admissions. She was joking that when the
family saw Herb coming they would get their
checkbooks out. She is my friend, and I have great
respect for her and her extended family.

3. Several entities bid on the Becky Thatcher
House. The board won the bid. No one
"engineered" anything. Whether or not they
paid too much is a matter of opinion. I often
have buyer's remorse before leaving the Quincy

I am relatively new to the museum, but I have taken 
the trouble to learn its history. I am privy to the
maintenance of all the buildings, including that of
the Pilaster House (Grant's). It's easy to second
guess. I have done similarly. But I have been here
long enough to see the volunteer hours by the
board, the checks written by board members,
and the energy directed toward fulfilling the
mission. There is always room for 20-20 hindsight
and self-recrimination. Life is that way. No board
member set out to ruin the museum or Sam's
legacy in Hannibal, and all are working toward
a common goal that includes the careful and
speedy restoration of Grant's. We are excited
and eager to begin this project. Do we worry?
Certainly. But we also work. Grant's is entirely
made of wood (unlike the brick property you
referenced earlier today), so not only flooding,
but midwestern humidity have hastened its sag.
It's 175 years old, and we consider it a treasure.
No one here shot the parents, I promise.

You and your wife have been generous to the
community. Some would say, "Why Molly Brown?"
or "Why a dog park?" when there are so many
other ("better") needs, such as homeless families,
etc. There is always a "better" way to spend someone
else's money. I would not presume to spend yours.
I choose to donate mine to the museum as do the
board members. We put our money where our
heart is, just as you do. Nothing wrong with that.

Please do call me (386-748-1256) anytime.
You would be most welcome at a board meeting.
Your love of Twain is surely as great as ours,
and only good can come from people looking
for common solutions for the greater good.

Thank you,
From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Terrell Dempsey [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 9:00 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Response to "Sad Neglect in Hannibal" by Cindy Lovell, Executive Director, Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

Cindy, =0A        I appreciate your reply and will gladly attend any board =
meeting at any =0Atime at which I am welcome.  However, you are a bit disin=
genuous about the Huck =0AFinn house and the "generous family."  In fact, t=
he Huck Finn House was paid for =0Aby Herb Parham who was president of the =
board for sixteen years from 1989 until =0A2005 if I recall correctly.  He =
engineered the purchase of the Becky Thatcher =0AHouse for a very steep pri=
ce in addition to paying for the Huck Finn House.  He =0Ashould have more p=
roperly paid attention to the Pilaster House.  Your veiling =0Ahim in this =
manner continues the long sad tradition of whitewashing in Hannibal. =0A It=
 is just not true that the board was not part and parcel of the development=
 =0Aof the Huck Finn House. =0A        I have no quarrel with you or anyone=
 on the board.  But the board is =0Aresponsible for the sad state of the Pi=
laster House.  After twenty-five years I =0Aam very, very tired of hearing =
about the board's plans and experts and how much =0Abetter things are going=
 to be in the future. Like a physician, your first =0Aresponsibility is to =
do no harm.  It is shocking that the board did not do the =0Aannual mainten=
ance to keep up the Pilaster House.  =0A        Put any positive spin on th=
e story you like, but the board has failed =0Amiserably. Your seeking to re=
scue the house is much like the man who shot his =0Aparents and begged the =
mercy of the court because he was an orphan.=0A=0ATerrell Dempsey=0A=0A=0A=
=0A________________________________=0AFrom: Mark Twain Forum List Administr=
ator <[log in to unmask]>=0ATo: [log in to unmask]: Tue, June 12, 201=
2 8:41:07 AM=0ASubject: Response to "Sad Neglect in Hannibal" by Cindy Love=
ll, Executive =0ADirector, Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum=0A=0AN.B.: I am=
 posting this message on behalf of Cindy Lovell. --Kevin B.=0A=0A~~~~~=0A=
=0A=0AAll,=0A=0AI appreciate Terrell=E2=80=99s concerns about the =E2=80=9C=
sad neglect in Hannibal,=E2=80=9D as he=0Aput it, and have tried to address=
 them here. As many of you visit regularly=0Aand/or receive The Fence Paint=
er because you are members, you will already=0Aknow much of this.=0A=0A=E2=
=80=9CI am shocked to report to you that the foundation and board have allo=
wed=0Athe Pilaster House/Grant's Drug Store to decay horribly. It is even m=
ore=0Aappalling that the site was on the states Most Endangered Property li=
st in=0A2009 -- and yet nothing has been done.=E2=80=9D=0A=0A1. Grant=E2=80=
=99s Drug Store was placed on Missouri Preservation=E2=80=99s Most Endanger=
ed=0ABuildings List in 2009 AT OUR REQUEST to raise awareness and help seek=
=0Afunding.=0A=0A2. At that time, the house was stabilized by a team of pre=
servationists led=0Aby Frank Salter and Bob Yapp. This was to stave off fur=
ther problems until=0Afunds could be raised for the full restoration =E2=80=
=93 which is in the Foundation=E2=80=99=0As master plan and scheduled to be=
gin as early as next year.=0A=0A=E2=80=9CIt breaks my heart that while buil=
ding a faux "Huck Finn" house and dolling=0Aup an old pizza parlor and stor=
e building as museums they allowed an actual=0Ahistoric structure that is e=
ssential to the development of Sam to rot.=E2=80=9D=0A=0A1. The =E2=80=9Cfa=
ux =E2=80=9CHuck Finn=E2=80=9D house=E2=80=9D was a generous gift from an a=
lready generous=0Adonor (whose family purchased the old Sonnenberg Dept. St=
ore and funded=0Arenovations there for what is now the museum gallery). The=
se generous people=0Alost their son to cancer and erected the reconstructed=
 Blankenship home on=0Aits original site using period materials and working=
 from old photos and=0Arecords as a tribute to their son=E2=80=99s memory. =
This is all indicated on the=0Aplaque outside the home. The board did not s=
eek this gift, but they=0Agratefully accepted it from this benevolent famil=
y.=0A=0A2. Yes, the Interpretive Center was once a pizza parlor. The origin=
al=0A=E2=80=9Cdolling up=E2=80=9D happened back in 1983. In 2004-05 it was =
updated to serve as=0Athe starting point for the tour of the properties.=0A=
=0A3. The board did not =E2=80=9Callow=E2=80=9D Grant=E2=80=99s =E2=80=9Cto=
 rot.=E2=80=9D Several steps have been taken=0Ato maintain it until the res=
toration can begin including moisture removal,=0Amoisture barriers, etc. un=
der the guidance of expert preservationists.=0A=0A=E2=80=9CI wish I were ex=
aggerating, but there is no hyperbole here.=E2=80=9D=0A=0AThere is no exagg=
erating the need for Grant=E2=80=99s Drug Store to undergo a full=0Arestora=
tion; and without inquiring, one would have no way to know what steps=0Ahav=
e or have not been taken to preserve this important building.=0A=0A=E2=80=
=9CI know many of the people on the board. They are not bad people. But the=
y=0Aassuredly are not historians or preservationists.=E2=80=9D=0A=0AI agree=
 =E2=80=93 they are certainly not bad people. And while they may not be=0Ah=
istorians or preservationists, they do rely upon historians and=0Apreservat=
ionists for guidance, which is why Grant=E2=80=99s is stabilized and next=
=0Aon our =E2=80=9Cto do=E2=80=9D list here.=0A=0A=E2=80=9CI know they are =
going to say they don't have money.  The reason is that=0Athey spent their =
money on silly things.=E2=80=9D=0A=0AThe estimate to restore Grant=E2=80=99=
s is just over one million dollars, which we=0Aassuredly do not have. Our m=
embers and supporters are aware that we are=0Aworking with our colleagues i=
n Berkeley, Elmira, and Hartford for the=0Apassage of the Mark Twain Commem=
orative Coin Act, which would yield roughly=0Aone million dollars apiece to=
 the four Twain sites. The bill has passed in=0Athe House, and we are now w=
orking on the Senate. It must be passed before=0Athe election. That is one =
possible funding source. Our board held a special=0Ameeting on Saturday to =
brainstorm a major capital campaign aimed at Grant=E2=80=99s=0A(now) and th=
e Justice of the Peace building (later). The recession has not=0Ahelped, bu=
t rest assured the board is concerned and proactive. They donate a=0Alot of=
 their own money to this cause =E2=80=93 as do many of the forum members he=
re.=0AAs do I and many museum employees and volunteers. All donations are d=
eeply=0Aappreciated, and all donors=E2=80=99 names are published in our ann=
ual report.=0A=0AAs museum visitations are on the decline, we are all tight=
ening budgets and=0Atrying to create new revenue streams. I wrote a piece o=
n this subject here:=0A=0A
wain-words-music-a-_b_1576051.html=0A=0A=0ATerrell, I invite you to call me=
 and have your name placed on the agenda so=0Ayou can address the board dir=
ectly. I think you=E2=80=99d be pleasantly surprised=0Awith the very respon=
sible plans in place. We are not neglecting Grant=E2=80=99s. We=0Aare stres=
sing and worrying and working to ensure it is here for future=0Agenerations=
 to visit. I also encourage you to post photos to Facebook and=0Aanywhere e=
lse you can. Please help us get the word out. We will eagerly=0Aaccept all =
the help we can get: press as well as funding.=0A=0AThank you,=0ACindy=0A=
=0ACindy Lovell, Ph.D.=0AExecutive Director=0AMark Twain Boyhood Home & Mus=
eum=0A120 N. Main St., Hannibal MO 63401=0APhone: 573-221-9010 ext. 402 | C=
ell: 386-748-1256 | Fax: 573-221-7975=0AEmail: cindy.lovell@marktwainmuseum=
.org | Web site:=0A your ordered "Mark=
 Twain: Words & Music" yet?  Details here:=0A
/index.php/community-projects/mark-twain-cd=0A=0A"Let us endeavor so to liv=
e that when we come to die even the undertaker=0Awill be sorry." ~Mark Twai=