Hannibal to upgrade Becky Thatcher home

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

HANNIBAL, Mo. (AP) -- The home of Tom Sawyer's sweetheart is about to get an upgrade.

Plans call for spending up to $1.4 million to improve the Becky Thatcher House in Hannibal's historic district. The house sits across Hill Street from the boyhood home of Mark Twain, who based "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and other works on the characters he knew growing up in the northeast Missouri town.

Gov. Matt Blunt announced Monday that $250,000 in tax credits to the Mark Twain Home Foundation will help fund the project.

"The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum is a wonderful historic tourist attraction and these improvements will help preserve a national treasure," Blunt said.

Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens in 1830, moved to Hannibal from Florida, Mo., as a young boy. The town continues to draw hundreds of thousands of tourists annually, mostly to visit the Twain sites.

The house was the childhood home of Laura Hawkins, who attended school with Clemens and was the role model for Becky.

Regina Faden, executive director of the Mark Twain Museum, said the improvements are among several planned in the historic area. Upgrades are also planned at the building that housed the justice of the peace office for John Clemens, Samuel Clemen's father, and to Grant's Drug Store, at the corner of Hill and Main.

Improvements to the Becky Thatcher home will include a ramp to make it accessible to the disabled.

In May, another home dedicated to a character of Twain's fiction was dedicated when the Huck Finn House was opened to the public. That house sits immediately behind the home where Clemens grew up.

Huck Finn was based on Tom Blankenship, Clemens' childhood friend. The Huck Finn House sits at the site where the Blankenship family lived. The original house was demolished in 1911, but the reconstructed home was based on photos of the original.

Information from: Hannibal Courier-Post, http://www.hannibal.net

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