Mark Twain House, Hartford

Mark Twain House, Hartford (must see)

The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, was the home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) and his family from 1874 to 1891. It was designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter and built in the American High Gothic style. Clemens biographer Justin Kaplan called it "part steamboat, part medieval fortress and part cuckoo clock."

Clemens wrote many of his best-known works while living there, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Tramp Abroad, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Mark Twain first came to Hartford in 1868 while writing The Innocents Abroad in order to work with publisher Elisha Bliss, Jr. of the American Publishing Company. Hartford was a publishing center at the time, with twelve publishers. He moved into a substantial home in Buffalo, New York after marrying Olivia Langdon; however, he considered moving to a more opulent house in Hartford within two years, partly to be closer to his publisher.

The family first rented a house at what was called Nook Farm in 1871 before buying land and building a new house. Twain said of Hartford, "Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see, this is the chief…. You do not know what beauty is if you have not been here." He was attracted to the town which had the highest per-capita income of any city in the United States at that time.

The house was designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter, an architect from New York City. When it was being built, the Hartford Daily Times noted, "The novelty displayed in the architecture of the building, the oddity of its internal arrangement and the fame of its owner will all conspire to make it a house of note for a long time to come."

The home is in the style of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, including the typical steeply-pitched roof and an asymmetrical bay window layout. Legend says the home was designed to look like a riverboat. According to A Field Guide to American Houses the house was built in the Stick style of Victorian architecture.

The Clemens family moved into the home in 1874 after its completion. The top floor was the billiards room and his private study where he would write late at night; the room was strictly off limits to all but the cleaning staff. It was also used for entertaining male guests with cigars and liquor. Twain had said, "There ought to be a room in this house to swear in. It's dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that."

Clemens worked on many of his most notable books in this home, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Life on the Mississippi (1883). The success of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer inspired him to renovate the house, and he had Louis Comfort Tiffany supervise the interior decoration in 1881. He also was fascinated with new technologies, leading to the installation of an early telephone.

However, a string of poor financial investments made by Clemens prompted the family to move to Europe in 1891 where the cost of living was more affordable. He began lecturing across the continent to recoup some money for their family. Unable to afford living in the house, Twain rented it out, returning only once in 1895. "As soon as I entered this front door I was seized with a furious desire to have us all in this house again & right away," he wrote, "& never go outside the grounds any more forever. . . It is the loveliest home that ever was."
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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Mark Twain House on Map

Sight Name: Mark Twain House
Sight Location: Hartford, USA (See walking tours in Hartford)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Hartford, Connecticut

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