One of our readers, Gary Wyatt, wrote in to tell us the unfortunate news that Grant’s Drugstore, where Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) once lived, has been placed on Missouri Preservation’s “Most Endangered Buildings” list. The writer’s father died there while the family resided in rooms over the pharmacy and he mentions it several times in his autobiography. The building, which currently houses a recreation of a period drug store and is a part of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum complex in Hannibal, was discovered to be in danger of collapse. Donations are being solicited to undertake critical restoration work. Among the many ways you can support the Twain legacy and the historic boyhood sites associated with him are by applying for a Mark Twain VISA card (a portion of all sales will be donated to the museum at no cost to the consumer), by signing a petition to designate 2010 as “The Year of Mark Twain” (2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the author’s death), or by simply donating a dollar for each Twain book you have read to contribute to the museum’s “One Book, One Buck” program.
Thanks in part to the previous donations of Twain fans, restoration work is proceeding on another important site within the Hannibal historic complex–the Becky Thatcher home. The little white frame house (which last week was revealed to have been painted beige during Becky’s time) was once the home of Laura Hawkins, Mark Twain’s childhood sweetheart and the model for Becky. The house is expected to reopen to visitors this fall.
In the meantime, visitors to Hannibal can still see the many other wonderful sites within the museum complex, including the Twain family’s small frame house at 208 Hill Street , which has been recreated with period furniture, and the Museum Gallery, originally an 1850s department store that is now home to many fascinating exhibits about Twain’s life. On display in Hannibal are many Twain artifacts like one of his famous white jackets (believed to be the only one still in existence), his writing desk, chair and typewriter.