Sinclair Lewis’ boyhood home to be designated ‘Literary Landmark’

What do F. Scott Fitzgerald’s St. Paul birthplace and Willa Cather’s beloved Nebraska prairie home have in common with a corner tavern in New York, a cemetery in Virginia, and a courthouse in Michigan?** All are Literary Landmarks, sites with a strong historical connection to prominent American authors and recognized through a joint partnership between United for Libraries’ Literary Landmarks Association and local affiliates.

This summer, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF), together with the Sinclair Lewis Foundation, is thrilled to be such a partner and to add the Sinclair Lewis Boyhood Home in Sauk Centre to the esteemed and growing list of Literary Landmarks.

Harry Sinclair Lewis is perhaps best known for penning the great American novels “Main Street,” “Babbitt,” “Arrowsmith,” and “Dodsworth,” and for being the first writer from the United States to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (1930).

MALF and the Sinclair Lewis Foundation will dedicate a custom-made plaque at his Boyhood Home, 810 Sinclair Lewis Ave., at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16. The ceremony will be one of the lynchpin events at Sauk Centre’s Sinclair Lewis Days, an annual, week-long festival celebrating the community and its most famous native son.

A short presentation will accompany the plaque dedication. Jim Umhoefer, president of the Sinclair Lewis Foundation’s board of directors, will serve as emcee. MALF President Mary Ann Bernat and Lewis biographer Roberta Olson will deliver short addresses, followed by a keynote from local publisher and Lewis historian Dave Simpkins.

The event is free to the public, and no advanced registration is necessary. For more information about Sinclair Lewis and the plaque dedication, visit the MALF Blog and the Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce’s Sinclair Lewis Days events calendar. For more information on the national Literary Landmarks program, including a complete list of previous designees, visit ala.org.

A strong presence on the Minnesota library scene since its founding in 1979, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF) is a statewide non-profit that aims to connect the many and diverse Friends of the Library organizations located in Minnesota both to one another and to a wide array of resources supporting their advocacy and fundraising efforts. For more information, visit mnlibraryfriends.org.

**You may still be asking yourself: “How is it that a tavern, a cemetery, and a courthouse are significant to the history of American literature?” New York City’s Pete’s Tavern was a favorite haunt of author O. Henry. Bland Cemetery in Jordan’s Point, Va., is the final resting place of Revolutionary War patriot and pamphleteer Richard Bland. The Marquette County Courthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was the workplace inspiration for Judge John D. Voelker’s bestselling mystery and detective novels. You can read more about the nearly 150 Literary Landmarks at ala.org.

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