Sunday, January 24, 2010

Full Circle (A Thirst for Connectiveness - Part II)

Our friend Don sporting the last of the Becky Thatcher House T-shirts.

In our last post where we attended an open house for the Becky Thatcher house, everyone in attendance was told of what would be in store for the restored structure. Here’s the high-level plan as we understood it:

Restore each room to reflect Becky era activities in accordance to times of the day. The ground floor rooms will be dioramas, each one accentuating morning, midday, and evening activities. The 2nd floor will be used for classes and other learning activities held or sponsored by the Mark Twain Museum.

 These figurines that once belonged to the
Becky Thatcher House went on auction in August 2008.
Here is the link to the auction post:

I’m relieved that the Becky Thatcher House will not be doing exactly the same thing as the Laura Hawkins House. Originally, the first floor of the Becky Thatcher House was a bookstore and the 2nd floor was a period room for viewing only. The latter is our vision of the Laura Hawkins house with all rooms exhibiting the d├ęcor and furnishings related to the Victorian era of Laura’s later years. Included will be the parlor, dining room, bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, and even the attic. Eventually, we want to expand use of the house to include Victorian themed art shows. After this, who knows?

 This old postcard shows the 2nd floor period room before it was gutted.


After expressing dismay at the lack of photos (published or otherwise) that exist of Laura Hawkins, Henry Sweets, curator of the Mark Twain Museum and emcee of the open house invited us to visit him in his office in the Mark Twain Museum. Eager to see his cache of photos, we accepted and a week later, found ourselves wandering the upper floor office area.

For anyone who hasn’t been to the museum (and I can’t imagine a local not visiting at least once), it is a must see. The original Norman Rockwell paintings illustrating Twain’s book Tom Sawyer are alone worth the price of admission, which is $9.00 for adults, $7.50 for seniors, and $4.00 for children 6-12 years old. A child under 6 years of age gets in free. Admission includes access to 8 different buildings including the childhood homes of Mark Twain and Laura Hawkins (aka Becky Thatcher).

Norman Rockwell paintings in the Mark Twain Museum
(Photographed by Dr. Cindy Lovell, Mark Twain Museum Director)

We were shown the direction to Henry’s office – a corner suite overlooking Main Street. He opened his cache for us and indeed we recognized some of the better known photocopies that exist of Laura. There were a few we were not that familiar with. Here are some of the photos...

 This photo has been published in countless publications when it came out in 1925. In this photo, Laura is shown commemorating Mark Twain’s 90th birthday in 1925 at the Mark Twain Museum. The museum back then and for many years afterwards was housed in Mark Twain’s boyhood home.

Here is the same event, with Mrs. George Mahan. George Mahan was a prominent Hannibal attorney who bought Mark Twain’s boyhood home as a gift to Hannibal...

Here is Laura standing on the porch of a house I believe she occupied for many years on the 500 block of steep Rock Street. More research is needed to confirm this.

Here’s another photo showing Laura standing at a fence, possibly on a farm she lived on in Palmyra. Again, more research is needed.

I recall as a teen seeing a photo once showing Laura tending an antique store in downtown Hannibal. So this is one photo I intend to search out.

As we come closer to our goal to preserve and display the Laura Hawkins House, it is our wish to join hands with the Becky Thatcher House in displaying Laura’s life full circle.

Our next post will show the kitchen of the Laura Hawkins house in its various stages of work. Here are a couple of teaser photos:

This was the sink cabinet - very 1960's - that has since been removed.

EEYEOW! What were they thinking with this color scheme?