Reconstructed home of real ‘Huck Finn’ opens as museum

Saturday, May 26, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:31 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

HANNIBAL — Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer’s incorrigible buddy, is finally getting his due.

Tom and Huck were fictional characters based on boys young Samuel Clemens knew growing up in Hannibal, boys he immortalized in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Huck was based on Tom Blankenship, the son of a drunkard who lived in a ramshackle house a couple of blocks from the Mississippi River.

On Saturday, the building known as the Huck Finn House will open to the public. It is immediately behind the home where Clemens — Mark Twain — grew up.

The Huck Finn House sits at the site where the Blankenship family lived. The original house was demolished in 1911, said David Mobley, president of the Mark Twain Home Foundation.

The land was owned by Christina Coons. When she died, her family donated it to the foundation. The family of Herb Parham, a retired attorney who served as the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum board’s president from 1989 to 2005, donated money to pay for the reconstruction.

Parham recruited architects, stonemasons and builders to ensure historical accuracy, said Megan Rapp, marketing manager for the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum.

The reconstruction of the exterior “was based upon photographs taken from that period,” Mobley said.

Logs were donated by a family that had a cabin in nearby Frankford. Granite stones, retrieved from a demolished Hannibal home, formed the foundation for the dwelling.

There were no known photos of the interior of the Blankenship home. Preservationist architect Lauret Torno designed the inside to represent “what the interior of a house in Hannibal would have looked like during Sam Clemens’ youth and time in Hannibal,” Mobley said.

In Twain’s novels, Huck was a good-hearted boy, independent and unrestricted, who always managed to find his way into trouble.

Museum officials say the Huck Finn House provides visitors to Hannibal with a missing element, a look into a poor family’s life along the Mississippi in the early 19th century.

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