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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

With over five million records sold worldwide, singer-songwriter MIKA is best known for his hit single “Grace Kelly.” MIKA joins "Border Crossings" to perform live and to talk with host Larry London about his latest CD “The Origin Of Love.”