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Tue, 12 Jun 2012 14:49:52 +0000
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
JULES AUSTIN HOJNOWSKI <[log in to unmask]>
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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Thank you Kevin and Cindy :)


-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Mark Twain Forum List Administrator
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 9:24 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Response to "Sad Neglect in Hannibal" by Cindy Lovell, Executive Director, Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

N.B.: I am posting this message on behalf of Cindy Lovell. --Kevin B.



I appreciate Terrell's concerns about the "sad neglect in Hannibal," as he put it, and have tried to address them here. As many of you visit regularly and/or receive The Fence Painter because you are members, you will already know much of this.

"I am shocked to report to you that the foundation and board have allowed the Pilaster House/Grant's Drug Store to decay horribly. It is even more appalling that the site was on the states Most Endangered Property list in
2009 -- and yet nothing has been done."

1. Grant's Drug Store was placed on Missouri Preservation's Most Endangered Buildings List in 2009 AT OUR REQUEST to raise awareness and help seek funding.

2. At that time, the house was stabilized by a team of preservationists led by Frank Salter and Bob Yapp. This was to stave off further problems until funds could be raised for the full restoration - which is in the Foundation'
s master plan and scheduled to begin as early as next year.

"It breaks my heart that while building a faux "Huck Finn" house and dolling up an old pizza parlor and store building as museums they allowed an actual historic structure that is essential to the development of Sam to rot."

1. The "faux "Huck Finn" house" was a generous gift from an already generous donor (whose family purchased the old Sonnenberg Dept. Store and funded renovations there for what is now the museum gallery). These generous people lost their son to cancer and erected the reconstructed Blankenship home on its original site using period materials and working from old photos and records as a tribute to their son's memory. This is all indicated on the plaque outside the home. The board did not seek this gift, but they gratefully accepted it from this benevolent family.

2. Yes, the Interpretive Center was once a pizza parlor. The original "dolling up" happened back in 1983. In 2004-05 it was updated to serve as the starting point for the tour of the properties.

3. The board did not "allow" Grant's "to rot." Several steps have been taken to maintain it until the restoration can begin including moisture removal, moisture barriers, etc. under the guidance of expert preservationists.

"I wish I were exaggerating, but there is no hyperbole here."

There is no exaggerating the need for Grant's Drug Store to undergo a full restoration; and without inquiring, one would have no way to know what steps have or have not been taken to preserve this important building.

"I know many of the people on the board. They are not bad people. But they assuredly are not historians or preservationists."

I agree - they are certainly not bad people. And while they may not be historians or preservationists, they do rely upon historians and preservationists for guidance, which is why Grant's is stabilized and next on our "to do" list here.

"I know they are going to say they don't have money.  The reason is that they spent their money on silly things."

The estimate to restore Grant's is just over one million dollars, which we assuredly do not have. Our members and supporters are aware that we are working with our colleagues in Berkeley, Elmira, and Hartford for the passage of the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act, which would yield roughly one million dollars apiece to the four Twain sites. The bill has passed in the House, and we are now working on the Senate. It must be passed before the election. That is one possible funding source. Our board held a special meeting on Saturday to brainstorm a major capital campaign aimed at Grant's
(now) and the Justice of the Peace building (later). The recession has not helped, but rest assured the board is concerned and proactive. They donate a lot of their own money to this cause - as do many of the forum members here.
As do I and many museum employees and volunteers. All donations are deeply appreciated, and all donors' names are published in our annual report.

As museum visitations are on the decline, we are all tightening budgets and trying to create new revenue streams. I wrote a piece on this subject here:

Terrell, I invite you to call me and have your name placed on the agenda so you can address the board directly. I think you'd be pleasantly surprised with the very responsible plans in place. We are not neglecting Grant's. We are stressing and worrying and working to ensure it is here for future generations to visit. I also encourage you to post photos to Facebook and anywhere else you can. Please help us get the word out. We will eagerly accept all the help we can get: press as well as funding.

Thank you,

Cindy Lovell, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
120 N. Main St., Hannibal MO 63401
Phone: 573-221-9010 ext. 402 | Cell: 386-748-1256 | Fax: 573-221-7975
Email: [log in to unmask] | Web site:

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"Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain