A Visit to Mark Twain’s House

Should you find yourself in or near Hartford, Connecticut, make time for the Mark Twain House & Museum. I visited last week and was awed by its beauty. Twain (or Clemens) and his wife, Livy, relocated to Hartford in 1871 and engaged architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design the 25-room abode. They moved in three years later. Even if you--or members of your travel party--have only read one Twain novel, back in high school, the house alone will delight. One sign I noticed called it ‘America’s Downton Abbey.’ Not quite, but you get the point.

Twain House.jpgAmong our favorite rooms was, of course, the very plush library. There’s no photography allowed inside the house, so you’ll have to picture patterned wallpaper, an elaborate oak mantelpiece, and a Tiffany chandelier. The wooden bookshelves that line the room do not contain Twain’s books, but they do hold titles he owned in contemporary editions. (Writers, take note: you can rent this room for a three-hour writing session.)

We also admired the conservatory, just a nook off the library really, filled with sunlight and hanging plants and a small fountain set in the floor.

But it’s the billiard room that best evokes Twain the writer, in my opinion. Up on the third floor, the large room is dominated by a billiard table--one that was actually owned by Twain--but tucked into the corner is a desk where the author wrote his most famous books, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, among others.

The family, which included three daughters, lived in this home for seventeen years. After that, it became an apartment building and a branch library. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963, and since that time, a series of renovations has returned it to the space that Twain knew and loved.

Image credit: Rebecca Rego Barry

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