Sunday, October 12, 2008

Historic Homes Struggling with the Economy

"The lack of money is the root of all evil." ~ Mark Twain

CBS Sunday Morning had an excellent story this morning on the plight of house museums all over the country struggling with large debt and decreasing donations and visitors. I've posted in the past about The Mount (previous post), Edith Wharton's historic home which was again featured in this story along with several other notable homes.

In this post I wanted to call your attention to The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, CT. Financial problems are nothing new for the home. Twain had to sell it in 1903 due in large part to his own financial problems.

The Mark Twain House and Museum was the home of Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Langhorne Clemens) from 1874 to 1891 in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. The architecture of the 19-room house is Victorian Gothic. Twain wrote The Gilded Age, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi, Huckleberry Finn, A Tramp Abroad and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court all while living in the home.

Here's an abbreviated history of the house after the Clemens sold it from the homes' website:
The house was privately owned until 1929 when the "Mark Twain Memorial and Library Commission" was chartered to restore and manage the Twain House.

In 1955, the mortgage was paid in full and the trustees began a 20 year restoration of the house to its former glory during the Clemens 17–year residency.

The Mark Twain House was given a National Historic Landmark designation in 1963.
A visitor's center and museum adjacet to the hosue was completed in 2003 at great expense, and is largely responsible for the current financial problems facing the museum, though the Robert A.M. Stern designed museum looks like a great building in its own right. It also has the distinction of being the first LEED certified museum in the country.

Please consider making a donation to this historic home, or one closer to where you live as they need our help.

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