Hannibal history at stake

Meanwhile pieces of Hannibal's history also are on the line.

You'll recall Grant's Drug Store in Hannibal was also listed on the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation's '2009 Most Endangered Buildings List.' But it's just one of three historic structures related to Mark Twain facing an uncertain future because of the lack of funding.

We want to leave as much historical significance as we can intact.

Preservation and stabilization work is underway here at the Becky Thatcher home. And Cindy Lovell says she's doing everything she can as the Executive Director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum to keep it progressing.

One of the structural problems at the Becky Thatcher home can be seen by all visitors to the downtown. As you can see the foundation is literally crumbling beneath the building.

Meanwhile time and gravity are taking a toll on nearby historic buildings, such as the Clemen's Justice of the Peace building, which now leans to the right. Next door is Grant's Drugstore now listed on the state's most endangered list.

Lovell said, "Recently we discovered a lot more leaning and plaster cracks and took a look and realized we had some urgent issues."

If you look closely, you can see the walls and the roof actually buckling. The problem is so bad, recently local volunteers braced the second floor with the steel beams you see here to keep it from collapsing even more.

But despite the passion for preserving the past here in Hannibal, there's one roadblock - funding. For years, museum officials used revenues from its gift store and donations to maintain structures. The price tag on restoration efforts of all three buildings is around four million dollars. The Museum raised about a fourth of that through donations and an auction. That money allowed them to begin renovations here at the Becky Thatcher Home.

But now $3.1 million is left and Museum officials hope for some help from Uncle Sam...via Missouri Stimulus money. Without it....the bottom line is if funding disappears, work here at the Becky Thatcher house may grind to a halt.

Lovell said, "I feel it's a moral obligation we share as Americans and Hannibalians. It's a legacy worth preserving. It's an international destination, people come from everywhere and expect to see the story of Sam Clemens' boyhood home."

Lovell says if those dollars trickle down, children will be able to enjoy these pieces of history for years to come.

By the way, Mark Twain's Boyhood home in Hannibal isn't the only place where Samuel Clemen's family lived.

During tough financial times, his parents rented the second level of Grant's Drugstore and squeezed the family into a couple of rooms.

Lovell says in the 97 years the Mark Twain Museum has been open, the Government has only pitched in $400 thousand to keep it running.

Lovell says you can help by sending a short e-mail to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, advocating stimulus money for the Mark Twain historical structures.