Antiques from the 1910 structure are being preserved
Most Hannibal historians will remember 1910 as the year that Mark Twain died. Few will note that in the same year a small shop was constructed on North Street in downtown Hannibal. Before the end of July the building at 200 North St. will become a part of history when it is demolished.
The property has been owned by Clarence and Ada Jo Bode since 1974. According to Clarence and Ada Jo’s son, Lyndon, his parents operated a souvenir shop at the site a majority of the time since then.
“She (Ada Jo) has had the gift shop off and on. She had it open in the ‘70s and rented it out in the ‘80s,” said Lyndon. “She has had it open this last time I think since ‘93.”
Especially in recent years, Lyndon said the souvenir shop was about more than turning a profit for his mother.
“She really enjoyed it, meeting the public and seeing people over the years,” he said. “The last decade it was more of a hobby business that gave her the chance to see a lot of people from across the country.”
Some of Ada Jo’s customers took home a special remembrance from her shop, provided they completed the hike up and down Cardiff Hill.
“The building is ideally located along the steps leading to the lighthouse. For a number of years she had a card that she would give out to people who went to the lighthouse and then came back down. It was like an awards card that said they had made it to the lighthouse,” said Lyndon.
With two granddaughters to enjoy, Ada Jo limited her time in the shop in recent years, according to Lyndon.
“Last year she mainly had the gift shop open during holidays. I know she was open over the Fourth of July and Labor Day, and she caught the Folklife Festival. Those were always good to weekends for her to be open,” he said.
In recent years the small white building has begun to show its age.
“For a number of years the roof has been having some pretty good problems and it is just getting worse and worse. There are two chimneys that are in pretty sad shape, too,” said Lyndon. “Basically the floors are giving out, the walls are close to giving out and the roof is just about done, too. There is a lot of leakage.
“In talking to Joey Burnham with the city (building inspector), something needed to be done, whether it was a complete renovation, or taking the building down. It is an old wood structure whose time has come is the best way you can say it.”
Demolition is planned some time next month.
“We’re working with the city to make sure when it comes down it doesn’t interfere with the July 4th celebration. Probably the middle of July would be a good time (for demolition) and we will work with the city when that comes about,” said Lyndon.
The process of removing trinkets and fixtures from the building has already commenced. On Tuesday members of the Mark Twain Museum’s staff took possession of a counter that likely dated back to when the building was new.
“They are going to restore it and use it in one of their facilities,” said Lyndon. “She (Ada Jo) was wanting to get it out because it was an antique. She also wanted to make sure it was something that was being used in the community.”
According to Lyndon, the city will handle the demolition. The Bodes will reimburse having the work done by paying off a special tax lien on the property, which the family will retain ownership of, over the next decade.
As for the site’s future, at this point the plans are simple.
“The goal is she (Ada Jo) wants to keep the property and have it as a green area,” said Lyndon. “She wants to keep it for her two granddaughters to have. They are young now, but if they want to do something in the future they would have that piece of ground in the tourism area to rebuild upon. In the meantime, we will keep it a green area, although there are other things we might look at.”
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org