History

“A Home – & The Word Never Had So Much Meaning Before”

by Patti Philippon‚ Beatrice Fox Auerbach Chief Curator |

Samuel and Olivia "Livy" Clemens were married in 1870 and moved to Hartford in 1871. The family first rented a house on Forest Street‚ in the Nook Farm neighborhood‚ from Livy’s friends‚ John and Isabella Beecher Hooker‚ and later purchased land on Farmington Avenue. In 1873‚ they engaged New York architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design their house.

Livy had strong opinions about the design of her home; she drew sketches and sought the counsel of trusted friends on her ideas. Construction began in August 1873‚ 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. In spite of this‚ he was enamored with the finished product‚ saying‚ “It is a home - & the word never had so much meaning before.”

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. He wrote:

Financial problems forced Sam and Livy to move the family to Europe in 1891. Though he would complain about other places the family lived compared to the Hartford house (”How ugly‚ tasteless‚ repulsive are all the domestic interiors I have ever seen in Europe compared with the perfect taste of this ground floor”)‚ 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.

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