Hartford Twain House
Haunted Dwelling — Hartford Twain House
351 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06105
marktwainhouse.org * Phone: (860) 247-0998 * Parking is Free
The Mark Twain Mansion Museum can be found up on a hill on Farmington Avenue, between Gillett Street and Woodland Street.
Wow! what a immense, interesting mansion; definitely one of a kind! The Clemens' dream home has 11,500 square feet. There are 25 rooms found on this three floored, expansive, immense structure. The exterior was built in the style of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture; with a steeply-pitched roof and an asymmetrical bay window layout. In the interior, the plans called for 7 bathrooms, that had hot and cold running water, and even flush toilets; no outhouses for the Clemens family! At least one of the bathrooms had a shower. The mansion was lit by gaslight. Heat was provided by duct-work that brought heated air from the basement furnaces. The Clemens also had a battery-operated burglar alarm system, and an "enunciator" bell, used to call the servants. In 1878, Samuel invested in buying an early model telephone, and put it in the kitchen.
In 1881, the interiors of the home's "public spaces", and grand entry hall were decorated by Louis C. Tiffany & Co., Associated Artists. The four interior designers; Louis C. Tiffany, Candace Wheeler, Lockwood DeForest and Samuel Coleman were all hired by the Clemens to bring their ideas and talents to create the wonderful designs that represent different parts of the world; places where they had been and studied. Design motifs from Morocco, India, Japan, China and Turkey can be found throughout the expansive first floor. The drawing room, the library, the conservatory, the first floor guest room; The Mahogany Room, the entry way, the kitchen, and the dining room can all be found on the first floor.
On the second floor, the master bedroom, the children's nursery; Jean and Clara, Suzy's room and the girls' school room were located. The third floor was Samuel's private wing, where he wrote, played billiards and entertained male guests, smoked cigars and did other manly behavior, like cussing once and awhile, out of earshot of the ladies and children.
The visitor can tour the home, and what a treat that is for the tourist. Check out their virtual tour web pages, found on the official website. Thanks to two federal grants from SAVE OUR TREASURES, totaling 3 million dollars, "the marble floor in the front hallway underwent a historic restoration, and specialists re-stenciled and painted the walls and ceilings, with the help of scanning computers."
The woodwork was refinished, in order to recover the Tiffany-decorated interiors of the mansion. The mansion has "50,000 artifacts: manuscripts, historic photographs, family furnishings, and Tiffany glass". Many of the original furnishings, including Twain's ornate Venetian bed, an intricately carved mantel from a Scottish castle, and a billiard table, remain at the house.
Famous American novelist, known as Mark Twain, who wrote such gems as Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn, was born Samuel Clemens. In 1870, Samuel married the love of his life, Olivia, called "Livy"; a young woman from a well-to-do family. This happy couple moved to Hartford, Ct., where they bought some property along Farmington Avenue In 1873, New York architect Edward Tuckerman Potter was hired to design their new mansion, to be built on the top of the hill that overlooked their land. Potter's designs included many of the ideas that Olivia came up with, with the help of some friends.
While Samuel and Olivia went to Europe, construction on their dream home was started in August of 1873. When the Clemens family moved into their new mansion on September 19th, 1874, a lot of work still had to be completed. The Clemens had quite a "punch list," and Samuel endured the same annoyances that many home owners experience; delays in the construction, and the rising costs presented to them by their contractor.
However, when the mansion was finally finished, both Samuel and his family, especially Olivia, simply adored the finished mansion. Samuel was quoted as saying, "It is a home - & the word never had so much meaning before."
This glorious, modern mansion of 1870s wound up costing a whopping $40,000 to $45,000; Olivia's inheritance money. Over the next few years, they took their time furnishing it. Meanwhile, Samuel Clemens was a very productive writer in the atmosphere of his third floor billiard room, and wrote in the years of 1874-1881, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Old Times on the Mississippi; Sketches, New and Old; and A Tramp Abroad. His creative roll also produced numerous short stories and even a play.
The billiard room served as his office, study and private man cave. After writing a project, he would organize it on the billiard table. Many a Friday night, was the scene of male bonding over games of billiards, and hot scotch.
Unfortunately, the Clemens family was not able to live there very long. In 1891, they moved to Europe, because of financial concerns. While Samuel was a great writer, managing his money was an issue for him. In 1903, though they had the money once again to live in their beloved Hartford estate, the Clemens decided to sell their beloved mansion, because it would trigger too many memories of their late daughter Suzy, who had died while they were in Europe.
The new owner was Richard M Bissell, the president of a fire insurance company. The mansion was a fixer-upper by this time, and Richard renovated the mansion to suit his family's needs, transforming the home significantly from the original design.
In 1917, the mansion was leased to the Kingwood School for Boys. The school must have finished it off, because in 1922, the mansion was sold and used as a coal warehouse, which must have caused the Clemens to collectively spin in their graves. Finally, the mansion suffered the fate of many old big homes; it was subdivided into apartments, often signaling the decline of the building.
Only a hop, skip and a jump away from having a date with the wrecking ball, the Clemens' home was saved in 1929, by a group of dedicated preservationists, forming the Mark Twain Memorial and Library Commission that bought the mansion and its property Just-In-Time. The ground floor was rented out to help pay the bills. Though restoration didn't begin until 1955, the surviving daughter, Clara Clemens, donated a lot of furniture and family artifacts to the commission, to be used when the museum was opened.
While still restoring the home, the first floor was opened as a museum in the 1960s, to help to raise funds. To help the restoration process along, the mansion was made a National Historic Landmark in 1963, opening up avenues to the funds needed to restore the property, and freeing funds to pay off the mortgage, buy back artifacts, furniture, furnishings and the Clemens' personal possessions. This restoration and acquiring of items for the museum was completed in 1974, just in time for the mansion's 100th anniversary. The folks who worked so hard in the restoration/gathering process must have been very gratified to earn the David E. Finley Award, in 1977, for all their efforts and accomplishments. Work continued in restoring many of the interior highlights and grounds to preserve historically what the home looked like between 1881 and 1891, a period of time when the Clemens family lived there, and really loved their home.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
People who love their homes/places of service and have many happy and memorable moments during their lifetimes, sometimes choose to spend their after-life there, willing to coexist with the living. Restoration of their former mansion often draws them back. Perhaps they had to leave their beloved home or building before they were ready to, and had longed to come back.
( Brumder Mansion * Loveland Castle * LeDuc Mansion * Donaldson House * Kelton House )
Samuel and Olivia were unlucky in raising their children. Out of 4 offspring, only one, Clara, grew up and married. Samuel's son died at the age of 2, a death that he blamed on himself, for not dressing the boy warmly enough. Their middle daughter Jean, was born with a condition that caused seizures. She died from a seizure she had in the bath tub, by drowning. The death that traumatized both Samuel and Olivia, however, was of his favorite older daughter, Suzy, who died of spinal meningitis at the young age of 24. Suzy was gifted as well in writing, and Sam considered her a prodigy, who was a ball of energy and life, much like her father.
Three known Spirits reside here. There may be more still to be discovered.
Suzy Clemens - Perhaps Suzy wants to keep her mother company ( Stranahan House * Lilburn Mansion ), as well as enjoy her old childhood home, and all the fine memories she had living there and playing with her two sisters.
Olivia Clemens - Livy, who spent her inheritance money creating a home of their dreams, had to leave her home, because of financial issues. When the Clemens did have the money to return, she didn't feel like living there after their daughter, Suzy died, because of all the memories. Now that she herself has passed on, and the living have restored her home, she can stay there with her beloved daughter, Suzy, and perhaps Samuel as well, who may be hiding up in the billiard room.
Perhaps her other children come to visit as the sounds and touches of children have been reported.
Sometimes spirits show themselves at an age where they had the most happiness. Sometimes spirits appear or manifest as children.
( Hotel Bethlehem * Kehoe House * Robert E. Lee Mansion )
Personal maid of Olivia - Servants who have spent a large portion of their life serving an employer, sometimes want to continue to do so in their afterlife. ( Morgan House * Hampton House )
As reported by ELAINE KUZMESKUS - Spiritualist medium
Sitting on the round velvet sofa in the entryway - There are often three entities of Victorian Ladies, waiting to greet guests.
1) Susan Clemens, Mark Twain's 24 year old daughter.
2) Olivia, Mark Twain's wife; dressed in black, with a black velvet bonnet.
3) Maid of Olivia; an older woman, wearing a more plain outfit, signifying her station in life; as a servant/personal attendant.
All three of these female entities appreciate and love attention from the living.
When visitors or staff members don't pay attention to them, a small cool breeze may suddenly be felt.
The lights may gently flicker.
A cat may suddenly come into the room.
An apparition has been seen, looking out an upstairs window, captured in a still picture.
Many personal experiences from tour guides and staff have been reported, especially around and in the following rooms: the drawing room, library, Suzy's bedroom, the master bedroom and nursery.
One male docent reported clearly seeing a transparent female dressed in a hoop skirt floating down a hallway.
Others report hearing laughter and voices.
Others see the apparitions of young girls playing, feel their clothes being tugged by children.
A young woman in a flowing white dress likes to float up and down the halls.
PARANORMAL FINDINGS AND REPORTS
Since 2009, after GHOST HUNTERS captured some positive findings, many groups have investigated this grand old mansion. The museum now has special series of tours of the Mark Twain House Museum, called the "Graveyard Shift" tours. During these tours, the Clemens' fascination with spiritualism and seances is discussed, and some of the findings of paranormal investigations conducted in the mansion are shared.
A big YES INDEED! The many personal experiences and the hard evidence captured strongly suggest that there are Clemens family members in residence.
by Elaine Kuzmeskus
Schiffer Publishing, 2006
marktwainhouse.org * en.wikipedia.org * marktwainhouse.org * marktwainhouse.org