The Grounds of The Mark Twain House

Historic Garden Tour


The Carriage House

Completed in 1874, the Carriage House – often called “the barn” or “the stable” by the Clemens family — was designed by architects Edward Tuckerman Potter and Alfred H. Thorp as a companion structure to the house. “Its massive size and its generous accommodations” — for coachman Patrick McAleer and his family, who lived there from 1874 to 1903 — “mark this structure as an unusual carriage house among those intended for a single family’s use,” according to the Library of Congress’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

“The building has the wide overhanging eaves and half-timbering typical of the Chalet style popular in the late 19th century for cottages, carriage houses, and gatehouses,” says the Buildings Survey. From under one eave on the north side of the roof, a carved wooden griffin glares out.

For the Clemens girls, the barn was a place of wonder, and McAleer its presiding spirit. “They conferred their society freely upon him in the stable, and he protected them while they took risks in petting the horses in the stalls and in riding the reluctant calves,” Samuel Clemens wrote. McAleer also “allowed them, mornings, to help him drive the ducks down to the stream which lazily flowed through the grounds, and back to the stable at sunset.”

Clemens himself set up a study in the hayloft in the spring of 1875. His friend William Dean Howells said that “he took the room above his stable, which had been intended for his coachman. There we used to talk together, when we were not walking and talking together, until he discovered that he could make a more commodious use of the billiard-room at the top of his house.” This hayloft study was possibly in one of the two second-floor rooms with access to a balcony at the south end of the building, now facing the modern Visitors Center, says the Buildings Survey.