Twain House director: Poe House can be saved

February 11, 2011

As noted in your recent commentary ("Saving Poe's House," Feb. 8) The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Conn. is no stranger to the fiscal challenges that Baltimore's Edgar Allan Poe House is facing. In fact, Samuel Clemens built the house, spent 17 years (1874-1891) there writing some of his most famous works and then was forced to move out as a result of his own financial problems.

In 2008, when The Mark Twain House & Museum went public with its fiscal challenges and the possibility of closure, there was a public outcry. How could we let Mark Twain's home shut down? The house was fortunate that multiple entities — from the state of Connecticut to foundations, individual donors and corporations — stepped in to give the organization the time to re-group and strategize a solution.

In 2011, we are now moving forward with our third subsequent year with a modest surplus, a balanced budget, record annual attendance in 2010 (more than 70,000 — the recent article misstated our attendance as 50,000) and 19 percent growth in ticket revenue versus the prior year.

We were fortunate that hundreds of Twain fans, members and donors from across the United States believe that his home is a national treasure. The Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore is, similarly, a national treasure, and we encourage the city of Baltimore, funders, Poe fans and preservationists to work together to make an important investment in maintaining this landmark home, tourism destination and international symbol of our literary heritage. We hope that our story and progress speak to the value of making an investment in preserving our cultural legacy.

Jeffrey Nichols, Hartford, Conn.

The writer is executive director of the Mark Twain House & Museum.

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