By Ashley Szatala Herald-Whig
HANNIBAL, Mo. — Last May the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department said that the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse would undergo its first major renovation since 1994.
Those plans have changed.
Parks Director Andy Dorian said at the Hannibal City Council meeting Tuesday that the lighthouse will be replaced entirely.
MECO Engineering was hired in November to perform a structural study and reported that “due to deterioration of a significant portion of the components comprising the structure, it does not appear feasible for the lighthouse to be repaired.”
The firm recommended that the structure be removed and a new lighthouse built on the current foundation.
“This isn’t something that shocked us. We’ve been Band-Aiding it for a while now,” Dorian said. “The lighthouse is a basic, hollow wood frame, and it’s easy for water to get in. We don’t want it to fall down, and with the bicentennial coming up, we think it’s time to get the lighthouse replaced.”
The Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse — purely ornamental and not meant for river navigation — was built in 1935 to commemorate Mark Twain’s 100th birthday. Strong winds leveled it in 1960, and three years later it was rebuilt. The lighthouse underwent a two-year renovation in 1994, and since then, severe water damage and rotting wood have taken a toll on the structure.
MECO estimates that the cost of building a new lighthouse is between $30,000 and $60,000. Dorian said the difference between the two figures arises because the city hasn’t discussed what materials to use in the rebuilding.
When the new structure is finished, the Hannibal Board of Public Works will install a new lighting component that will allow the city to illuminate the entire structure in different colors at night.
“Imagine seeing the lighthouse lit up in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July, pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, blue for Autism Awareness Month and so many more options,” Dorian said.
The council approved a resolution for the city to enter into an agreement with MECO Engineering to provide the design, bidding and construction phase of the reconstructed lighthouse.
Dorian said he thinks the lighthouse might be rebuilt by the end of this year. He added that the lighthouse is the city’s most vandalized object, and a new security camera has been purchased to help protect it.