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Hannibal seeks solution for Molly Brown Home

Hannibal seeks solution for Molly Brown Home

October 24th, 2012 in News

HANNIBAL (AP) - Molly Brown may have been unsinkable, but the house where she grew up is barely staying afloat.

Brown was one of the heroes when the Titanic went under in 1912 for demanding the crew of her lifeboat return and search for survivors.

The little house in Hannibal, where she spent her childhood has been owned by the city since 2007 and is operated by the Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau. But the Hannibal Courier-Post reports that for the past two years, the operating budget has ended in the red. Overall for 2012, the house has lost $4,637.

Tourism bureau director Gail Bryant said it didn't help that the air conditioning had to be replaced over the busy Fourth of July weekend.

Since the tourism season started in May, fewer than 1,400 people have visited the house. Civic leaders are trying to come up with solutions.

"We never anticipated big gains or losses with Molly Brown's Home," said Doug Warren, finance director for the city. "If it enhances the tourist visit and can be run near the cost of operating it, then I think we have done our job. This loss is not insurmountable and could be turned into a positive number with better weather and perhaps more advertising."

Molly Brown was born in Hannibal in 1867, the daughter of Irish immigrants. She moved to Colorado as a teenager and there married James Joseph Brown, who became rich by inventing a way to reach gold at the bottom of mines.

Molly Brown was a socialite and activist, but is famous for heroism after the Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk in the Atlantic 101 years ago.

Town leaders say there are several things working against her house as a tourist attraction. It isn't quite in the downtown historic area, sitting a few blocks away from the boyhood home of Mark Twain. It is situated on a hill with no place for tour buses to park or turn around.

There has been talk in the past about relocating the home to a more accessible spot in the historic district. Bryant said that isn't currently under consideration.

The house is open this weekend, then it will close for the winter, reopening in May.