Named by National Geographic as “one of the 10 best historic homes in the world,” the Mark Twain House & Museum is a must-see in Connecticut. Home to Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), his home is a National Historic Landmark. This gorgeous Gothic architecture styled home is the magnificient place in which Twain wrote some of his most famous novels—hint, hint: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and other classics.
The Mark Twain House & Museum offers its visitors a chance to learn more about the author and his legacy. Take a guided tour with one of the experts to see what the hype is all about.
A Bit About the Man Himself
Born in Florida, Missouri, Samuel Clemens was influenced by the rapid changes happening in America throughout his entire life. Experiencing some of the most consequential events in American history from an eyewitness perspective, Samuel distilled his insight into his novels. Watching the US evolve into industrialization, the end of slavery, advancements in technology, and torn by government and foreign wars, Samuel observed and reported on his surroundings. It is truly remarkable just how much his writing has allowed readers an honest, eye-opening view into the past. Reading novels from the mindset of an individual in the late nineteenth century can be a truly remarkable and insightful experience.
A Glimpse into the House
Marrying Olivia “Livy” Clemens in 1870, she and Samuel decided to move to Hartford in 1871. In 1873, they began to design their house with the help of New York architect Edward Tuckerman Potter. Unlike Sam, Livy had very strong opinions on the overall design and drew sketches and sought counsel of trusted friends on her ideas. She enjoyed the challenges of domestic life and much of the house reflects her tastes and sensibilities.
The home is about 11,500 square feet and has 25 rooms throughout three floors. Included in the house are modern features of the time such as gaslight, bathrooms with hot and cold water, ductwork to carry warm air from the furnaces in the basement, and also an early model of the telephone. The interior of the house is grand, contracted by Louis C. Tiffany & Co. Associated Artists to decorate the walls and ceilings of the public spaces.
Between 1874 and 1881 while living in this house, Mark Twain published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Old Times on the Mississippi; Sketches‚ New and Old; and A Tramp Abroad as well as numerous short stories and a play.
Opened in 2003, the 45,000-square-foot Webster Bank Museum Center at The Mark Twain House & Museum offers visitors a spectacular experience to learn about the author’s legacy. Dive deeper into Mark Twain’s life, his family, the historic house and everything in between.
During your visit, you can see the Aetna Gallery, which houses an exhibit of Twain’s life and work, The Hartford Financial Services Theater showing a Ken Burns mini-documentary on Mark Twain, The Mark Twain Store, and the majestic Hal Holbrook Hall. There is also The Nook Cafe, classroom space, and the Lincoln Financial Auditorium.
The Must-See Collections
Naturally, the most important part of this museum is the meticulously restored National Historic Landmark of Mark Twain’s home.
In addition to the home, there about 16,000 artifacts to explore. These include pieces that originally belonged to the Clemens family such as Samuel Clemens last pair of spectacles, family textiles, and a watercolor painting which was a birthday present from Sam to Olivia in 1878. There is also an archival collection which consists of documents and photographic images, such as a love letter by Sam to Livy on her birthday in 1888, and photographs of the Clemens daughters performing theatricals. Additionally, there are special collections of notable pieces such as the 12 volume set of Mark Twain’s works in Russian.
Now until January 24, 2017, make sure to check out an exhibition titled “In Their Father’s Image: Susy, Clara, and Jean Clemens”. This in-depth look at Samuel’s three daughters offers a perspective of just how much their father influenced them with his wondrous storytelling and his fame—in both the good and the difficult times.
Living History Tours
Costumed members of the Clemens Family or the serving staff lead the tour. This one hour and fifteen minute tour allows special access to the basement and photo opportunities with the character. Each story told by the character is unique so check out the site to see which one interests you the most!
Address: 351 Farmington Avenue Hartford, CT 06105
Phone Number: 860-247-0998
Hours: Daily from 9:30am to 5:30pm, Last tour leaving at 4:30. The museum is closed Tuesdays in January, February, and March, as well as on major holidays.
Tickets and Pricing: Include the tour of the house and admission to the museum center. Buy tickets online (tours do sell out so this is recommended!).
Senior Citizens (ages 65+): $16
Adults (ages 17-64): $19
Children (ages 6-16): $11
Under 6: FREE!
Museum Only (Does not include the tour of the Mark Twain House): $6
Tips: The house tour takes about 45 to 60 minutes, but the suggested time is about two hours for the entire visit to see the film and the exhibits.
To ensure an optimal experience, the main house tours are limited to 16 people, so if your group is larger than 10 people, please call (860) 280-3130 or fill out the online group tours form to reserve a discounted Group Tour in advance of your visit.
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