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Mark Twain Statue Returns To Its Place In Front Of Hartford Public Library


April 09, 2010

Mark Twain is back where he belongs, in front of the building that holds so many of his books.

The statue of Twain, a 5-foot-10-inch bronze showing the famous author at the wheel of a riverboat, stood in front of the main branch of the Hartford Public Library from 1994 to 1996. It was sent into storage while the library was remodeled.

After the library renovation was completed, it was discovered that no one had thought to save a spot in front of the building for Twain.

"We put him on Sheldon Street [in 2007] because there was no place for him on the terrace," said Matt Poland, chief operating officer for the library as he gestured to Twain's new spot on the northwest corner of the entrance.

Poland knew the importance of getting Twain off Sheldon Street, where he was seldom seen. So the library reached out to the Hollander family, which donated the statue to the city in 1994, to see if they'd be willing to pay for the move.

Ross Hollander said Thursday that the sculpture, by James E. Brothers of Lawrence, Kan., was one of three commissioned by a riverboat company in Missouri. The company planned to put one on a riverboat and sell the other two to Hannibal, Mo., Twain's birthplace, and to Hartford, where Twain spent his most prolific writing years.

"But Hartford couldn't afford to buy it, and I felt bad about that," Hollander said.

Hollander, whose family owns Hartford Distributors, said he spoke to his father and brother and they decided to donate the statue to the city.

Hollander said he was frustrated by the length of time it took for the statue to come out of storage, but was more disturbed it ended up on a side street.

"They put it on Sheldon Street by a trash can. I was upset by that," he said.

When library officials approached him with the idea to put Twain back in front, he quickly agreed to foot the bill.

Twain's return will be celebrated Sunday with an unveiling at 4 p.m.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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