As we come upon the 150th Birthday of Molly Brown on July 18, we need to not just celebrate the event on Saturday at her Birthplace (sadly, it is only open two days a week during the tourist season), but work to remind everyone of all the things she’s responsible for, or was involved with, in addition to helping rescue fellow Titanic survivors.
As we come upon the 150th Birthday of Molly Brown on July 18, we need to not just celebrate the event on Saturday at her Birthplace (sadly, it is only open two days a week during the tourist season), but work to remind everyone of all the things she’s responsible for, or was involved with, in addition to helping rescue fellow Titanic survivors. Her endeavors towards women’s rights, helping create the groundwork for what became our juvenile justice system, and even running for political office had far-reaching effects from just a single person born in a little three-room house in Hannibal.
Those of you who’ve visited the Molly Brown Birthplace know that those visiting for the first time will realize that her parents built a home in a “difficult environment”. Carving out homesteads on steep hillsides was done primarily out of financial necessity for a poor Irish family. The lower level of their home only included space for their animals and a tiny kitchen with a wood-fired stove. Upstairs was literally one tiny bedroom and one “common room” where everything else occurred (The upstairs shed-roof addition was built later). Finally, of course, the bathroom was the outhouse out back….
Molly Brown should be celebrated, and her Birthplace regularly promoted, as a rare combination of person and place as part of Hannibal’s Heritage. There are not that many locations around the country where a person with great impact upon our country and society has a Birthplace you can visit to learn more about their life and their impact on ours.
Recently there has been some public discussion or commentary regarding a possible future that could see the Molly Brown House moved to a more “friendly” environment. Historic tourism is not like going to visit Epcot Center. The physical location or topography lends a feeling of history to visiting a place like the Molly Brown Birthplace. Imagine if you would, standing next to her birthplace and visualizing other homes nearby and commercial businesses at the bottom of the mountainous “street” (Denkler’s Alley) that they lived on — what a dramatic difference from the manner in which most people live today and all the daily challenges they faced just to survive.
It’s a horrifying thought to willfully destroy the historic provenance of the opportunity in our state to visit the real place where someone important to our history was born.
As a City owned Historic Site, it’s “hours of operation” should not be dictated by a balance Sheet. We have many public areas we support that never “pay for themselves”. If everything needed to pay for itself, we’d have pay toilets downtown and entry fees to parks. That brings us to a nice segue….regardless of who visits the site, doesn’t it make more sense for Parks & Rec to staff (and maintain) the Molly Brown Birthplace since they staff our other public attractions each year? Of course, the CVB should continue to promote it along with everything else.
— Lou Barta, Hannibal