The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum announces it is taking steps to preserve Grant's Drug Store by closing it to the public until funds can be raised to undertake a complete renovation. Grant's, also known as the Pilaster House, was named to Missouri Preservations' Most Endangered Buildings list in 2009. Local preservationists volunteered their time and talent to make emergency repairs at that time, but 175 year-old building now requires a complete restoration. The public will still be able to view the exhibits through the windows, but preservation experts fear the daily walking through the home is doing further damage. Walking through the building is not necessary to view the display, so the doors will be closed immediately.
"While we don't like having to close Grant's, it's an important first step towards saving it," said Museum director, Cindy Lovell. "The next step is to raise funds to save and restore this important building. Fundraising has been a challenge in this economic climate, especially since we're still working towards completing the Becky Thatcher House renovations and asking for donations on that front as well."
The Clemens family lived in Grant's Drug Store briefly when they fell on hard times and were forced to rent rooms from Dr. Grant. John M. Clemens died in Grant's Drug Store on March 24, 1847. The impact this had on the family ultimately led to Sam having to leave school and earn his own keep. The building is historically significant for its close ties to Sam Clemens and its unusual construction. It was preassembled in Cincinnati, Ohio, taken apart, shipped here, and erected in 1836 by James Brady, who would later become Hannibal's first mayor.
The Mark Twain Museum is aggressively pursuing grants and donations to maintain and preserve this historic building along with its seven other properties. For more information contact the Museum.