A Literary Masterpiece – Mark Twain House

Okay, I admit it. I am guilty of something many of us do. We fail to appreciate what is in our own backyard and fail to visit the places that tourists visit.

I am not talking about tourist traps. I am speaking about places of historic value; places that celebrate a place or person that helped shape this culture.

A few months I posted how you could plan a trip around a book or author you enjoyed and mentioned the Mark Twain House located in Hartford, Connecticut.  I lived in the Hartford, Connecticut area for over 12 years and always said I would go soon. Finally, in the planning of the college road trip, Sam reminded me we had a few hours after our visit to UConn and he knew I where I wanted to go.

Hartford was a publishing city in the late 1800s and so Samuel Clemens was drawn there. He purchased land at Nook Farm (elderly neighbor was Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin) and spent the outrageous sum of $45,000 to build the 25-room house. That $45,000 is inflation adjusted to a million dollars now, but to build the house now would cost many times more because of the intricate architectural detailing and painting throughout requiring artisan technique now.

Sam Clemens loved the latest technology, so his house had an intercom system, telephone, inside flush toilets, and electricity. He had his manuscripts typed for submission to the publisher. It was his love for the latest technology which ended up ruining him financially, as he invested again and again into an invention that was never a commercial success.

Library - source: Torrington CT Board of Education

The house, while decorated in a style that seems over the top to me, is very livable.  Sam needed a place to write, and his wife Livy had him put his desk up in the 3rd floor billiards room, away from a window so he would not be distracted.

Billiards Room - source: Torrington CT Board of Ed

Mark Twain loved this house. He had to leave it, planning to but never returning, to head to Europe where he could earn more money on the lecture circuit. 


Addendum April 18, 2012

Gunta, in Oregon sent me this photo from her past travels. Twain traveled quite a bit early days…spent a lot of time in Nevada also. He hung out with Bret Harte in Angels Camp and the Jumping Frog story was written there. Note the difference in living style with the mansion he built later in Hartford

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4 Responses to A Literary Masterpiece – Mark Twain House

  1. Gunta says:

    Twain was such a fascinating character. Somewhere around here I have a shot of the rather primitive cabin he lived in near Angels Camp, California. It’s been “preserved”. Can’t remember if it’s part of a park or what…

  2. Deborah Hankins says:

    Love this house..Milt and I visited a number of years ago and it seems you can hear Mark Twain’s voice there!

  3. The place is stamped with his personality…the way we have been lead to think of him…vibrant, striking, yet very comfortable.

  4. I’ll have to check into whether they hold an annual jumping frog celebration there!

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