On a whim last week we decided to go out of town for the weekend. We ended up in Hartford Connecticut. We had been there before but we weren’t able to do some of the stuff we wanted to do on previous trips so we decided that this time we would visit the places we wanted to but never could fit in.
One of those places was the Mark Twain House. In the past we drove by it and stopped and wandered the grounds, but since we had our dog we couldn’t tour the actual house. This past weekend the pooch stayed in Boston and so we were welcome on the tour.
I have always been a huge fan of Twain so I was quite curious to see the place where Samuel Clemens (Twain’s real name) worked on some of his most impressive works including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and The Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
The outside of the house looks impressive. Construction on the house began in August of 1873 and the family settled there in September of 1874. The architect was Edward Tuckerman Potter and the structure is an example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. The brickwork, the eaves and the gables makes the exterior look quite busy and at times it feels overwhelming to take in all the detail.
From the outside the house looks large but it isn’t until I toured the house did I realize just how large. It has 25 rooms, including seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, an impressive grand hall, a large library, a glass conservatory, and a billiard room. Sam worked in the billiard room and according to our tour guide he kept stuff on the pool table so he wouldn’t stop writing and play pool. Apparently he was easily distracted and if the pool table was well kept and ready to play he would put down his pen. In an effort to focus he kept odds and ends on the table so it would be an effort to clean the table to play pool. Unfortunately no photographs are permitted inside the house. However, if you are in the area I would suggest this tour!
The family resided in the house until 1891 when financial woes forced the family to live in Europe. After they returned to America the family did not return to Hartford due to the death of their beloved daughter Susy in 1896. Mrs. Clemens could not bear to live in the house with so many memories of Susy. They sold the house in 1903.