Interior & Grounds

Sam Clemens found the details of building and decorating a house frustrating. He complained of being “bullyragged” by plumbers and carpenters. His wife‚ Livy‚ however‚ enjoyed the challenges of domestic life and much of the house reflects her tastes and sensibilities.

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. It was lit by gaslight; it had seven bathrooms with hot and cold running water and flush toilets – and at least one bathroom had a shower. Rudimentary ductwork carried warm air from the furnaces in the basement‚ and in 1878 Clemens had an early model of the telephone installed in the kitchen. There were also two features that ran on batteries: a burglar alarm system and an ”enunciator” bell for calling the servants.

The couple spent $40‚000 to $45‚000 building their new home‚ so once they moved in they kept the interior simple. Over the next few years Olivia sought advice on what to do with the interior‚ made plans and shopped for the new home. Between 1874 and 1881, 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.

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.

Donations for Restoration

We are constantly working to restore The Mark Twain House to the time when the Clemens family lived here‚ and can use your help.

Virtual Tour

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