During the 9th Quadrennial Conference on The State of Mark Twain Studies, the Center For Mark Twain Studies presented a series of awards, including two for service to CMTS. This year we inaugurated the Jervis Langdon Jr. Award for members of the local or regional community who “further Langdon Jr.’s vision,” first articulated in 1982, to preserve Quarry Farm as a retreat for scholars studying Twain’s life, work, legacy, circle, and world.
The inaugural Langdon Jr. Award was given this past weekend to Elise Johnson-Schmidt of Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, Preservation Architects. Johnson-Schmidt and her team have been essential to the ongoing preservation of Quarry Farm and the Mark Twain Study. As Director Joe Lemak put it during the awards presentation,
“There is no one who knows Quarry Farm better than Elise. She is the principal author of the Quarry Farm Historic Structures Report…She is responsible for organizing and prioritizing almost all of our preservation projects, most importantly fire suppression and water drainage surrounding the main house. She and her team have designed gutter systems, drainage systems, and the new bookshelves on the second floor. She has helped us pick out new and older pieces of furniture for everyday use. She used her interior decoration skills to help us redesign the second floor. She has consulted with us on specific colors, wallpapers, plants, rugs, and curtains. Our newest project completion is the acquisition of the 1920’s old hickory furniture on the porch, which has transformed the space, not only to improve its historical accuracy but to increase its function as a workspace, both important strategic goals. This is just a small sample of her work at Quarry Farm.”
The other service award is named for Henry Nash Smith, the original director of the Mark Twain Project. This award, which has been presented at every quadrennial conference since 1989, is given to a member of the broader Twain Studies scholarly community who has made special contributions to CMTS’s goals during the years immediately preceding the conference.
On this occasion, the Henry Nash Smith Award for Service was presented to Lawrence (Larry) Howe, Emeritus Professor from Roosevelt University. Foremost, during his term as President of the Mark Twain Circle of America, Howe prioritized and formalized collaboration between CMTS and MTC, an effort which has helped the two organizations to create new initiatives and co-sponsor new programs, marshaling our collective resources to serve Twain Studies more effectively. Some of the near-term fruit of such collaboration include the current Graduate Student Workshop, two special issues of Mark Twain Annual based on Quarry Farm Symposia, and the Mark Twain Circle Series here at MarkTwainStudies.org.
Moreover, since the last quadrennial conference, Howe co-organized the 2018 Quarry Farm Symposium, contributed to three more symposia, consulted on strategic planning documents, and wrote several essays for this website, including the very popular “Black Lives Matter at Quarry Farm.”
And even beyond this formal service contributions, as Dr. Lemak put it, Howe consistently delivers “simply good fellowship” and is “a positive force,” even “pitching in” unprovoked to set up for events. “This means something,” Lemak said, “to Steve [Webb] and myself.”
Much thanks from all of us at the Center For Mark Twain Studies to Elise Johnson-Schmidt and Lawrence Howe.