News / Arts & Entertainment

Economic Downturn Impacts Mark Twain's Boyhood Home

Museum officials appeal to author's fans for money

Author Mark Twain's boyhood home is now preserved as a museum in Hannibal, Missouri.
Author Mark Twain's boyhood home is now preserved as a museum in Hannibal, Missouri.

Multimedia

Kane Farabaugh

The American writer Ernest Hemingway once said, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called, "Huckleberry Finn."

Visitors from around the world come to the small town of Hannibal, Missouri on the banks of the Mississippi River to see Twain's hometown.

The town includes many of the places Twain made famous in books like, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn."  

The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Twain's death and the 125th anniversary of "Huckleberry Finn."

The town of Hannibal is celebrating both milestones by appealing to literary fans worldwide, hoping they'll donate funds to help maintain some of the landmarks made famous in Twain's books.

Hometown Boy

Referring to Hannibal, Twain once remarked "It had me for a citizen, but I was too young then to really hurt the place."

Of all the places he would inhabit, visit or write about, Hannibal, Missouri held a special place for Mark Twain.

"After he left Hannibal, I think Hannibal never left him," says Henry Sweets, curator of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. "I think the exposure that he had to everything from school to church to slavery to many of these childhood experiences are what enriched his writings later on."

The places Twain immortalized in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn,"  are preserved by the museum.

The house where he lived attracts tourists from around the world, and so does the white-washed fence that his fictional character, Tom Sawyer, reluctantly painted.

The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain's death and the 125th anniversary of the publication of "Huckleberry Finn."
The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain's death and the 125th anniversary of the publication of "Huckleberry Finn."

"During the course of a year, we will have (people from) 70 or 80 different countries who will sign our guest register," says Sweets.

Feeling the pinch

According to Sweets, about 300,000 people visited Hannibal last year. About 20 percent visited the museum.

The number is down from previous years, and more visitors are local or from neighboring states than from foreign countries.

Museum Executive Director Cindy Lovell attributes the downturn to the global recession.

Twain museum officials say tourism was down last year.
Twain museum officials say tourism was down last year.

"The tourism economy doesn't just impact us at the museum," says Lovell. "It impacts everyone here with hotels motels, restaurants, the shops, all these things depends on Mark Twain bringing tourists to visit us."

Lovell says with fewer tourists, the museum has less money to spend on repairs to buildings, like Grant's Drug Store which figures in several of Twain's stories.

"This building has been placed on Missouri Preservation's most endangered buildings list, and it's critical for us to get it preserved so yeah, we need a lot of money."

The museum hopes to raise $10 million by the end of 2010 for the upkeep of buildings that were important to Mark Twain.
The museum hopes to raise $10 million by the end of 2010 for the upkeep of buildings that were important to Mark Twain.

Fundraising appeal to fans

The museum hopes to raise $10 million by the end of 2010 for the upkeep of buildings that were important to Twain.

Lovell is appealing to the general public. "We're trying to reach one million Mark Twain fans around the world and we're asking each of them to donate just ten dollars a piece."

Lovell admits the Twain fundraiser borrows from Barack Obama's fundraising philosophy during his presidential campaign by appealing to a large number of people for small donations.

"It sounds exactly like that, and of course, I'm taking my lead from his success," she says. "I was one of those small time donors. I think a lot of us were."

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."