Restoration Projects

Work Completed on the Clemenses’ Best Guest Room

Mahogany Room Restoration

Restoration work began on the first-floor guest suite‚ known as the Mahogany Room‚ in the Mark Twain House during the summer of 2016. This was the principal guest room for the Clemens household‚ where friends such as Clemens’ editor‚ William Dean Howells‚ and Grace King‚ a writer famed for her Louisiana stories‚ would stay when they came to visit. (The New York Times recently published an article about the progress of the restoration.)

But the room also played an important role in the family life of the household. During the Christmas season‚ Livy would use it to “do up” her baskets for the poor. The Clemens daughters also used it as a “green room” for storing costumes and props for their amateur theatrical presentations.

All furnishings and other museum objects were moved out of the mahogany bedroom‚ dressing room and bath to prepare for the restoration. The elements of a prior restoration--reproduction wallpaper in the bedroom‚ painted vinyl canvas in the bathroom and painted canvas in the dressing room‚ as well as post-Clemens era flooring--were also removed.

To get ready for the new restoration‚ specialists performed a series of tests on the space‚ including paint and finish analyses on the walls and ceilings to try to determine the original color scheme for the rooms‚ and analysis of several carpet fibers that were found beneath the post-Clemens flooring. We also contracted with a historic preservations consultant to synthesize all the past research that has been performed and augment it with additional investigation to clear up any inconsistencies.

We worked with David Scott Parker Architects, an architectural firm that specializes in historic preservation and has extensive background knowledge of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Associated Artists who are known to have decorated the bedroom. Little is known about the decoration of the suite, as the contract between the Clemenses and Associated Artists states that the bedroom will have its “walls and ceiling papered.” It is difficult to determine if the dressing room and bathroom were decorated by them as well. The firm is using their knowledge of Associated Artists and the practices of the time period to determine the best approximation of how the room may have been decorated.

We have enjoyed hearing the wonderful sounds of repairs and restoration throughout summer and into the fall. We eagerly opened this room to the public in December 2016. Visitors will see several Clemens objects that were in this room, including the mahogany bed set which was custom made for the Clemenses.

Donations to continue restoration efforts to the Mark Twain House are most welcome.


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Donations for Restoration

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