Friends of the Mark Twain House & Museum

The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum 35th Annual Holiday House Tour

Sunday, December 6,
11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


This is the famed-in-Connecticut weekend holiday tradition when people flock to the Mark Twain House, and to distinctive area homes, for The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum Holiday House Tour.

The tour will feature Mark Twain's 25-room home and several historic homes will be opened for viewing for the 35th year of this event. Each will be decorated for the holidays and will feature live music and floral arrangements. The Twain mansion will be decorated for a 19th-century Christmas with the Samuel Clemens family.

The tour takes about three hours and requires some driving, but all the houses are not far from one another.

HHT map

Proceeds from the tour will benefit the continued restoration, preservation, and education programs of The Mark Twain House & Museum, which is a National Historic Landmark.

Advance tickets are $30 each and may be obtained by calling (860) 247-0998 or by clicking here. Tickets will be $35 each on the day of the tour, Sunday, December 6, and can be purchased at The Mark Twain House & Museum and each participating home. Advance tickets are also available at the following retail locations:

Bella Flora (Rocky Hill) 860.563.6633

Designed To Order (Manchester) 860.432.9015

De Vars- Phillips Florist & Antiques (Hartford) 860.523.1235

Emmy Lou’s, Ltd. (Glastonbury) 860.633.9565

Flower Box (Wethersfield) 860.529.6843

Gledhill Nursery (West Hartford) 860.233.5692

Haworth Flower Shop & Greenhouses (Farmington) 860.677.1684

Horan’s Flower Shop (Simsbury) 860.651.8554

Labrazel Home (West Hartford) 860.232.6300

Moscarillo’s Garden Shoppe (West Hartford) 860.236.5487

Riverside Nursery & Garden Center (Canton) 860.693.2285


Sponsors include Viking Fuel Oil Company, Hooker & Holcombe, Pamela Dowling & James Healey, Jr., Aaron & Sandra Gersten, and Chuck and Carol Paydos.


Here are the exciting homes on this year’s Holiday House Tour:


The Campbell/Collada Home, 176 North Beacon Street, Hartford

This inviting Georgian revival home was built in 1907 by architect A. Raymond Ellis who built several houses in the West End.  The original owner, Freeman Harris, Jr, was a noted state representative and lived there until 1944.  Richard and Alex have lived here since 2011 and have created a most attractive home through their choices of paint, furniture and decorative art featuring many works by South African painter Brett Smith.

Entering the spacious foyer, you will immediately notice the French doors directly across the hallway overlooking the back terrace and gardens. These allow natural light into the home and help create an open, airy space especially enjoyed by the owners.  To the right is the spacious living room painted in deep blue with white woodwork.  Comfortable white sofas , attractive pillows and interesting seating arrangement invite you to sit and socialize with family and friends.  Directly across from the living room, the office is furnished with an impressive desk and gaming table as well as a now outmoded file cabinet which provides a clever way to display wine.   Alex collects antique maps and some of these are displayed on the walls (look for the Colosseum in Rome on the map over the mantle).

You next enter the dining room and immediately notice the impressive glass chandelier and the extensive wine collection on the wall.   You then proceed into the large, modernized kitchen with both painted and stained cabinets, a marble- topped island and a view of North Beacon Street.  The owners confide that most of their dinner parties and receptions quite often end up in this comfortable area. 


The Modifica Home, 80 Kenyon Street, Hartford

Style and taste abound in this beautiful home snuggled cozily amidst its surroundings.  This Queen Anne Victorian was completed in 1880, the third house to be built on Whitney.   The visitor first steps into an inviting continental- accented parlor which is an antiquarian’s delight with many English pieces in evidence.  To the immediate right is a portrait by Jarod Flagg next to a glass display case holding an impressive collection of Staffordshire Porcelain and Victorian Majolica.  To the left next to the staircase is an 18th century chest made with rare oyster shell wood.   Straight ahead is the den which serves as both a dining room and TV viewing area and features an impressive English gothic breakfront and a tiled fireplace, original to the house, with scenes from Homer’s Ulysses.   Passing through the hallway, the lavatory on the right displays a sink hand carved out of a block of marble.  The kitchen features cabinetry by Marty Roy, with the refrigerator and dishwasher cleverly disguised as extra cabinets.  The kitchen tiles emit a copper glow, the result of treating hand-made tile with copper glazing and then re-firing.  Passing through the kitchen, the original large porch in the rear of the house was divided to make a pantry and a three season room overlooking an inviting patio and swimming pool. 

132 140

The Kirkland/Howard and Paydos Homes, 132 and 140 Balbrae Drive: The Mansion, Bloomfield

Aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh were frequent guests at Balbrae to consult with its owner George Jackson Mead, co-founder of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and designer of the WASP aircraft engine.  Balbrae is Scottish for “home on a hill” and this sprawling English manor house is indeed snuggled amidst the Bloomfield foothills of Talcott Mountain.  Completed in 1929, the mansion and its surrounding grounds were incorporated in 1981 into a unique condominium community by Mead’s architect son.  Units 132 and 140 of the renovated mansion have retained the features and charm of the original while imbuing the separate units with their owners’ individual taste and style.

First entering 140 through the original foyer, you walk through a paneled hallway passing the dining room with a striking R. C. Gorman lithograph and grand stairway leading to the upper quarters.  Further on the left is the original butler’s pantry which has been transformed into an attractive kitchen and cozy lunch nook retaining the spirit of the building’s period.  Just ahead is a light-filled western accented den, originally Mead’s office, looking north with Auer Farm in the distance.  The painting over the fireplace is by Meri Nordstrom and is titled “The Two Mittens”.

Passing through the living room- which served as the dining room in the original residence- you exit through the rear door stepping out onto a flagstone patio with a view overlooking Hartford to the east.

A few quick paces to the right and you enter the rear of 132 stepping into a stylish and inviting den and TV room which was added to the mansion during the renovation. Walking through the comfortable and remodeled kitchen and along an artwork- studded hallway, you pass the dining room on the left and cross the entry foyer. Straight ahead, a grand piano stands sentinel over a spacious and exquisitely decorated living room which overlooks a large roofed patio with an English sunken garden beyond.  Truly, Balbrae reflects the spirit and vision of both its original and new owners.


The Bicknese/Quinteiro Home, 223 Terry Road, Hartford

Built in 1922, this Colonial Revival home, designed by the renowned architect, Russell Barker, was formerly the home of several prominent Hartford families, including the Einsteins and Bonees.  Purchased in 2011, the present owners have lovingly restored it.  This colonial’s soft colors and clean lines offer a modern flair to a traditional setting.

When you enter the grand foyer of this updated three-story home, you will immediately be captivated by the focal point of the entrance, a large window that captures the beautifully landscaped yard, the stunning Oriental carpets, the gleaming hardwood floors, and the well-preserved antique lighting. To the left of the foyer is a welcoming living room that has an airy feel.  The room offers a decorative fireplace, lovely artwork, and a treasured collection of white McCoy pottery that the owners have personally acquired over the years.  The adjacent sunroom, which was once a summer porch, has been winterized and now gives the owners another comfortable area for lounging and entertaining.  The large dining room to the right of the foyer creates a seamless extension, in both scale and proportion, to the rest of the first floor.  Its beautifully refurbished hardwood, carefully chosen paint shades, dark furnishings and well-preserved sconce and chandelier not only complement the feel and tone of the other living spaces, but, again, give thoughtful consideration to some of the historic details of the original house.

The new kitchen, which is located in the back of the house, was completely redesigned, gutted, and rebuilt this fall.  A major goal of the renovation was to create a modern kitchen with a larger footprint and ample storage as well as to incorporate the kitchen in the flow of the existing house.


The Stampul/Newton Home, 258 North Whitney Street, Hartford

This year marks the 100th anniversary of this home’s completion.  Interestingly enough, this striking colonnaded colonial was originally built for a widow who changed her mind and never moved in, buying a home on Scarborough Street instead!   Situated across from Elizabeth Park, its inviting circular drive leads to a doorway opening to a large and inviting foyer.   To the right is a spacious front to back living room with a whimsical Del Visco painting of Popeye over the fireplace mantel.

A lovely sunroom, once an outdoor porch, is off the living room and provides a view of a tree-shaded flag stone patio.  Unique to the sunroom is a near- spherical copper fireplace which provides heat and charm to the room.  Returning past the foyer through the dining room, note the intriguing and unusual artwork which reflects the owners’ varied tastes.  The formal dining room leads to a functional and eclectic kitchen with an embossed copper ceiling. The entire home speaks of comfort and genial hospitality.


The Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) lived here with his wife Olivia (Livy) and daughters Susy, Clara and Jean in this 25- room Victorian mansion from 1874 to 1891.  Designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter and Alfred H. Thorpe, This National Historic Landmark features an interior dcor by L.C. Tiffany’s Associated Artists as well as furnishings, decorations and artifacts that belonged to the Clemens family.  Enjoy the Museum Center built in 2003 where you will find the Mark Twain Store featuring Mark Twain coffee blends for sale.


The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum is the volunteer organization that has supported the museum for more than 50 years.

It began as the Women’s Committee in 1952 when, according to then-President Walter K. Schwinn, the Board of Trustees sought to add to its membership “women with the time for and interest in planning benefits, cataloguing acquisitions and organizing membership campaigns.”

In 1993, the Women’s Committee celebrated its 41st anniversary. At that time, the name was changed to Friends of The Mark Twain Memorial, reflecting a membership that now included men. From 40 initial members, the membership had grown to over 200 diversified members. In 2003, the organization adopted the name Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum.

Today, the Holiday House Tour is sponsored by Friends of the Mark Twain House & Museum and features Mark Twain’s own 25-room mansion as well as several impressive private homes in the area. Since 1967, this successful event and other fundraising efforts have allowed the Friends to contribute approximately $1,000,000 to the operating funds of The Mark Twain House & Museum.

For more information on membership please contact our Membership Co-Chairpersons:

Chuck Paydos (860) 242-4825
Dee Peters (860) 233-4066

Officers 2014 – 2015

PresidentAnnette Bolt
Membership Co-ChairsDee Peters, Chuck Paydos
Vice PresidentKaren Licht
Recording SecretaryJoDee Krejmas
Corresponding SecretaryBarbara Zyla
TreasurerCarolyn D. Vallieres
Program ChairLynne Lumsden



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