A Home – & The Word Never Had So Much Meaning Before
The Mark Twain House
In 1873 Sam and Olivia Clemens engaged New York architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design their Hartford Home.
Construction began in August of that year‚ while Sam and Livy were abroad. Although there was still much finish work to be completed‚ the family moved into their house on September 19‚ 1874. Construction delays and the ever-increasing costs of building their dream home frustrated Sam.
Their home measures 11‚500 square feet‚ and has 25 rooms distributed through three floors. It displayed the latest in modern innovations when it was built in 1874. The couple spent $40‚000 to $45‚000 building their new home‚ so once they moved in they kept the interior simple. Mark Twain and his family enjoyed what the author would later call the happiest and most productive years of his life in their Hartford home.
Financial problems forced Sam and Livy to move the family to Europe in 1891. The family would never live in Hartford again. Susy’s death in 1896 made it too hard for Livy to return to their Hartford home‚ and the Clemenses sold the property in 1903.
Interior Design – Tiffany’s Associated Artists
Sam’s mounting success as a writer and lecturer enabled the Clemenses to do up their new house in grand style. In 1881‚ they contracted with Louis C. Tiffany & Co.‚ Associated Artists‚ (Tiffany was the son of the founder of the famed jewelry store‚ Tiffany & Co.) to decorate the walls and ceilings of the public spaces in their home‚ particularly the newly enlarged entry hall.
Associated Artists were members of the Aesthetic movement‚ and were known for their exotic interiors. The same year they decorated the Mark Twain House interior they were hired by U.S. President Chester Arthur to redecorate the state rooms of the White House. The company was made up of four designers: Louis C. Tiffany‚ Candace Wheeler‚ Lockwood DeForest and Samuel Coleman. Each brought ideas from different parts of the world where they had traveled and studied‚ and each had a hand in the design of the Mark Twain House interior. The first floor of the house is filled with design motifs from Morocco‚ India‚ Japan‚ China and Turkey.
"To us, our house… had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with; and approvals and solicitudes and deep sympathies; it was of us, and we were in its confidence and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction."
— Mark Twain