The Mark Twain House & Museum board of trustees approved a three-year strategic plan, welcomed a new board member and honored funders and volunteers at its annual meeting on Thursday, January 24, 2019.

Paul Eddy, president of the museum’s board, Pieter Roos, its executive director, and guest speaker Briann Greenfield, executive director of The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, spoke of the importance of maintaining the  historic properties and of the institutions’ working closely together to continue important conversations begun by the two authors who were neighbors in Nook Farm.

“Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe were the two figures that most dominate the U.S. literary tradition in the 19th century, ” Greenfield said. “They give us access to so many important topics — politics, religion, race, friendship, domesticity, and power. That’s what make us truly special neighbors.”

Eddy welcomed new board member Mark Maybury, the first chief technology officer of Stanley Black and Decker. Outgoing trustees Frank Lord and Duby McDowell were saluted for their many years of service. Also leaving the board are Jessica Ritter, David Jimenez, Jamie McDonald and Susan Herbst.

The Samuel Clemens Awards (The Sammies) were given to Allstate, for its assistance in updating lighting in the Gift Shop and improvements in the HVAC system, and The Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and fund advisor David Polk, for support of the restoration of the Carriage House exterior. Twain House Gardens and Grounds Coordinator Christie Kuriger awarded Sammies to volunteers Cindy Curry, Sue Israel, Rebecca Nisely, and Gail and Ed Thibodeau for their contributions in restoring two gardens, including the Fran Gordon Memorial Garden.

Director Roos reported on continuing and upcoming physical plant improvements to the historic house and museum, a robust jump in public programming, and author programs with Larry Wilmore, Matt Taibbi, Jodi Picoult, and Janet Evanovich in 2018. Eddy and Roos noted better sales in the Mark Twain Store and that The Mark Twain House & Museum was voted “best event venue” by Hartford Magazine.

“Mark Twain was a juggernaut in American history,” Roos said. “This is one of the only places in the country where the general public can recognize and celebrate his remarkable and still fresh and timely legacy.”