Margaret Tobin Brown, aka the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, was born in a small cottage in Hannibal on July 18, 1867. Here she lived with her parents, John and Johanna Tobin, and five brothers and sisters. Their sixteen- by thirty-foot home was located at the corner of Denkler's Alley and Butler Street (previously called Prospect Street) in the area where many of Hannibal's Irish Catholic families congregated. Margaret lived in this house until the age of eighteen when she left Hannibal to seek her fortune in the booming mining town of Leadville, Colorado.

 

The restoration of the birthplace of Margaret Tobin was another significant project tackled by the Marion County Historical Society. Having fallen into terrible disrepair, the structure was purchased at a tax sale by Mr. and Mrs. Leo Riney, who then donated the property to the Marion County Historical Society on September 9, 1967. It was accepted by Mrs. Kate Ray Kuhn representing the Society.

Molly Brown's Birthplace and Museum in Hannibal

Molly's Birthplace prior to restoration, mid-1960s

President Kate Ray Kuhn (far right ) and other members of the Marion County Historical Society working on the restoration of the Birthplace, 1968.

Restoration of Molly Brown’s birthplace was a massive undertaking that required hundreds of hours of volunteer labor and materials. The MCHS proudly opened Molly Brown’s Birthplace as a museum on June 28, 1970. In 1998, Terrell and Vicki Dempsey led and financed a second restoration effort to keep the structure sound. Again, hundreds of hours of labor were donated by Hannibal volunteers to restore the home with historical accuracy. The Dempseys donated the structure to the City of Hannibal, who completed another restoration effort in 2011. Today the Birthplace and Museum continues to be owned by the City of Hannibal and is under the management of the Hannibal History Museum Foundation.

 

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