History of Redding Connecticut (CT) Header
Audio Files & Oral History
Books about Redding
Branchville, CT History
Churches in Redding
Churches in Georgetown
Daily History Archives
Donate to the H of R
Early Families of Redding
Early Settlement History
Early Manufacturers
Famous People of Redding
First Telephones in Redding
Flood of 1955
Georgetown, CT History
Georgetown Redevelopment
Gilbert & Bennett History
Hiking Trails in Redding
History of Schools
Huntington Park
Indian Paths thru Redding
Landscape- Farms, Waterways, Geology
Mark Twain in Redding, CT
Little Brick Schoolhouse
Maps of Redding, CT
My brother Sam is dead
News 1966-1992
Old Homes of Redding
Parish History (1729-67)
Pictures of Redding, CT
Putnam Park
RBGC History
Redding Center History
Redding Country Club
Redding Remembered
Redding Ridge History
Summary of Land Use
Wars- Revolutionary, Civil
West Redding History
Sponsors Page
Redding Businesses
Redding Builders
Redding New Construction
Redding Real Estate
Redding Restaurants
Redding Organizations
Redding Town Site
Redding Pilot
Redding Elementary
John Read Middle School
Joel Barlow High School
Region 9 Schools
RBGC Web site
Redding Fire & EMS #1
Mark Twain Library
League of Women Voters
Redding Neighbors & Newcomers
About the Designer
Contact Us

Wedding Planning Professionals right here in Redding CT

Mark Twain's Redding, Connecticut Home: Stormfield  

This information on Mark Twain's final residence, Stormfield. Help me add to this section. Submit your ideas or articles to bcolley@snet.net

View a PowerPoint Presentation of Twain's Time in Redding

Mark Twain's Arrival in Redding, CT:

“On the 18th of June, 1908, at about four in the afternoon we left New York City by an express train that was to make its first stop in Redding that day. With Mr. Clemens were my father, a reporter or two, a photographer and that most fortunate little girl, myself, whose boarding school closed that day so that I, too, was homeward bound to Redding.

Waiting for us at the Redding station was a proud array of carriages, flower trimmed, and filled with smiling people who waved warmly. I knew I would never forget it. Mr. Clemens waved in return, then stepped into his own carriage and drove toward the beautiful house that was to be his last home. “

-Louise Paine

New York Times: "Do you like it here at Stormfield?"

Samuel Clemens: "Yes, it is the most out of the world and peaceful and tranquil and in every way satisfactory home I have had experience of in my life."

“I was never in this beautiful region until yesterday evening. Miss Lyon and the architect built and furnished the house without any help or advice from me, and the result is entirely to my satisfaction.

It is charmingly quiet here. The house stands alone, with nothing in sight but woodsy hills and rolling country.”

-Samuel L. Clemens letter to Dorothy Quick dated June 19, 1908

Mark Twain in Redding CT Timeline

  • June 18, 1908: Arrives in Redding

  • August, 1908: Twain’s nephew drowns in NJ, he travels to NYC for funeral & retires from NYC for good.

  • September 18, 1908: Burglars break in to house.
    The Burglary at Stormfield, September 18th, 1908. This is quite an interesting story which is followed by the burglar's own account.

  • October 1908: Twain requires every male guest to leave $1 for library.

  • December 1908: Just before Christmas Samuel L. Clemens at his place here got word from his friend Robert J. Collier of New York, that the latter would send him an elephant as a present. This caused much anxiety at the Clemens household, especially Miss Lyon who contacted Mr. Collier to explain there was simply no room for an elephant at Stormfield…Collier replied “oh, just put him in the garage.” The ‘elephant’ arrived on Christmas morning. It turned out to be a toy elephant about as large as a good sized calf and mounted on wheels.

  • April 1909: Daughter Jean arrives in Redding.

  • May 1909: Close friend Henry Rogers dies.

  • June 1909: Experiences heart pain & remains in bed most of June & July.

  • August 1909: Paine moves into Stormfield to aid Twain.

  • September 1909: 500 guests attend benefit for library fund.

  • October 6, 1909: Clara’s wedding celebrated at Stormfield.

  • November 19, 1909: Leaves for a month in “Bermooda”. Doctor’s orders.

  • December 20, 1909: Twain returns to Redding.

  • December 24, 1909: Daughter Jean dies while taking a bath. 40 acre parcel of land Jean had called the Italian Farm sold to build a Jean Clemens Wing on the Mark Twain Library.

  • January 1910: He returns to Bermuda.

  • April 14, 1910: Twain returns to Redding in very poor shape.

  • April 21, 1910: Twain woke suddenly, took Clara’s hand and said: “Goodbye dear, if we meet....”.

Video of Twain in Redding shot by Thomas Edison (1909)

Post-Twain Highlights of Stormfield and Related Properties

  • May 8, 1910: The last will and testiment of Samuel L. Clemens filed in Redding. The will was dated Aug. 17, 1909, and covers eight typewritten pages. It was drawn in Redding and witnessed by Mr. Clemens's secretary, Albert Bigelow Paine, Harry Lounsbury, Superintendent of Mr. Clemens's estate, and Charles G. Lark of New York.

  • July 10, 1910: Mrs. Clara Clemens-Gabrilowitsch, daughter of the late Samuel L. Clemens, (Mark Twain,) has formally notified the directors of the Mark Twain Free Library here that she will present to that institution practically the entire library of her father, now in the Redding residence, Stormfield. The gift includes nearly 2,500 volumes.

  • February 19, 1911: The Mark Twain Library, built as a memorial to Miss Jean L. Clemens, daughter of the humorist, who was drowned in a bathtub in her father's home, Stormfield, on Dec. 24, 1909, was formally dedicated this afternoon. Addresses were made by the Rev. Joseph H. Twichell of Hartford and the Rev. Frederick Winslow Adams of Schenectady, N. Y.

  • July 20, 1912: The public library founded by the late Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) in Redding, Conn., where he spent the latter years of his life, has been endowed by Andrew Carnegie with a fund sufficient to support it. The library is to be known as the Mark Twain Memorial Library.

  • July 2, 1917: Humorist's Daughter Finds Connecticut Place Too Isolated. Stormfield, Mark Twain's old home near Redding, Conn., has been advertised for sale. He built it with the idea of getting a country home which should be near enough to New York, and yet not too near, in Summer and Winter; but his daughter, Mrs. Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, to whom it passed after his death, found it too far away for the needs of an artist whose affairs required frequent presence in the metropolis.

  • October 25, 1918: Stormfield, the estate at Redding, Conn., which was the home of Mark Twain, has been given by his daughter, Clara Clemens (Mme. Ossip Gabrilowitsch) for the use of convalescent soldiers and sailors of the artistic professions. Mme. Gabrilowitsch, though admitting that she had turned Stormfield over for the use of wounded men would not discuss the subject further, saying that the affairs of the organization which was to control the estate were not yet complete.

  • March 23, 1923 Mark Twain Estate Sold. The trustees of the Samuel L. Clemens estate have sold "Stormfield," near Redding, Conn., to Mrs. Margaret E. Given. The property contains abut 200 acres, with a stucco residence of Italian architecture, containing eighteen rooms and five baths built in 1907 and occupied by Mr. Clemens (Mark Twain, the world famous humorist) until his death in 1910. Hamilton Iselin & Co. were the brokers in the deal.

  • July 25, 1923: Stormfield - the home of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), in the closing years of his life - was burned early today. The picturesque villa on the ridge of this town was unoccupied for many years after Mr. Clemens's death, but was bought in December by Mrs. Margaret E. Givens of New York, as a Summer home.

  • April 18, 1924: The Mark Twain property, where stand the ruins of the former home of the author(house burned down), has been sold to George Leland Hunter, who, it is understood, represents a wealthy New York man who is expected to erect an elaborate residence on the site. Mr. Hunter recently purchased and occupies the house known as The Lobster Pot, given by Mark Twain to his social secretary, Miss Virginia Lyon. He is author of several books on tapestries.

  • October 8, 1953: A defective oil burner was blamed today for a $100,000 blaze that destroyed a two-century-old house once owned by Mark Twain known as the Lobster Pot. The estimate of the damage was made by the present owner, the Rev. Anson Phelps Stokes Jr., rector of St. Bartholomew's Protestant Episcopal Church, New York, who acquired the twelve-room landmark in 1952 as a summer home. The blaze yesterday afternoon destroyed many antiques, including family heirlooms, according to the owner, who said the loss was partially covered by insurance.


Stormfield Guestbook

Guestbook entries are written by Samuel L. Clemens:

Guestbook's Opening Pages- I bought this farm of 200 acres three years ago, on the suggestion of Albert Bigelow Paine, who said its situation and surroundings would content me- a prophecy which came true 3 years later, when I arrived on the ground. John Howells, architect and Clara Clemens and Miss Lyon planned the house without help from me, and began to build it in June 1907. When I arrived a year later it was all finished and furnished and swept and garnished and it was as homey and cozy and comfortable as if it had been occupied a generation. This was the 18th of June in the present year [1908] I only came to spend the summer, but I shan't go away anymore.

We installed a guest-book June 27th and used it until four days ago, when this new and more satisfactory one arrived from the hand of my niece Mary Rogers and put it out of commission. I have transferred the names from that one to this one. The autographing of signatures will now be resumed. Has been resumed, I should say: that charming Billie Burke was the first guest to arrive after the coming of the book, and she inaugurated the resuming, her signature heads the page under the date of December 27.

S.L. Clemens
Dec. 29, 1908

"In peace and honor rest you here, my guest; repose you here, Secure from worldly chances and mishaps! Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells, Here grows no damned grudges; here are no storms, No noise, but silence and eternal sleep: In peace and honor rest you here, my guest!"

Titus Andronicus, Act I, Scene I

Helen Keller's guestbook entry January 11, 1909:

"I have been in Eden three days and I saw a King. I knew he was a King the minute I touched him though I had never touched a King before."

-A daughter of Eve. Helen Keller
Jan. 11

The guestbook at the Mark Twain Library is in fair shape and it is a copy. It is noted as being given to the library in 1935. The original is with UC Berkeley.

Description of Stormfield from: MEMORIES OF MARK TWAIN IN BERMUDA

Many minutes before we reached it we could see the peaceful white Italian villa, from whose many windows we knew we could look for miles over the country. The grounds were unspoiled by the hand of the landscape gardener, and bushes grew everywhere, while the graveled road, that led up to the entrance, was not yet hardened by excessive travel. We drove up to the door. It opened, and there stood Mr. Clemens. It might have been yesterday that I had seen him last, for he had not changed. His suit was as white and immaculate as ever, his hair as silvery. There was only one change. He had tied a bow of pink ribbon to the top locks of his head, in honor of the guest. He extended both hands in cordial greeting, and I knew then that the Happy Island had not been a dream. The bow of pink ribbon was gently referred to, with proper acknowledgment of its hospitable significance. Mr. Clemens received the thanks gravely, and then the ornament placed there whimsically was apparently forgotten, but remained coquettishly pert all the rest of the evening.

Even before I went to my room I must look over the house. So we went from living room to loggia and back again to the dining room, and then down to the pergola, back again to the house and into the billiard-room, then upstairs to catch a glimpse of the view from Mr. Clemens' room before the twilight should close in upon it. Then Clara Clemens's charming suite of rooms must be visited, then the other bed-rooms, and the guest rooms. We must have a peep also into the servants' quarters, but finally, we stopped, before reaching the attic, which was reserved to another time.

The house was designed by the son of his life-long friend, Mr. W. D. Howells, a fact which gave Mr. Clemens great satisfaction. It was singularly in keeping with the dark, straight cedars which nature had foreseeingly disposed in decorative lines and groups. In side there was spaciousness, light, perfect comfort, and simplicity: while outside there was all the beauty of a New England landscape at its best, with nothing abrupt or harsh in the undulating curves of its hills and valleys; with something maternal in its soft, full outlines -- where it would seem a sweet and restful thing to lay one's tired body down and let this mother Earth soothe and enfold you.

Mr. Clemens told me, almost with glee, that he had never seen either house or land until one day, the preceding June, when he came and took possession of a fully furnished and settled kingdom. All the instructions he had given were, that his room should be a quiet one, that the billiard-room should be big enough so that when he played he would not have to jab his cue into the wall, and that there should be a living-room at least forty by twenty feet. He was perfectly satisfied with the result, and wandered delightedly from room to room as he pointed out this and that particular charm.

As twilight fell, we gathered about the big fireplace in the living-room. Mr. Clemens asked me if I noticed anything very peculiar about the room. I vainly tried to perceive some eccentricity, but could not, for everything was in perfect harmony. "Haven't you noticed," said he, "that there isn't a picture on the walls?" I had to confess that I hadn't. We sat and talked of our friends of the Happy Island -- of the Rajah, and of Margaret and the other Angel-fish, until it was time to go and dress for dinner.

This was a function where conversation was as important as food. Mr. Clemens grew restless before many courses had been served, and rose, to walk up and down the dining-room, discoursing the while on some favorite topic. This he often did at meals. For he was not a hearty eater, except spasmodically, and so he would often suddenly rise, still talking, and continue his tirade while pacing the floor. Then, if another course tempted him, he would come back and partake of it.

There was a big organ at one end of the living-room, with a self-playing attachment, and after dinner we had some music. One of the guests played while we sat in the fire light, and Mr. Clemens in his big armchair smoked and was perfectly happy.

Mr. Clemens spent half of each morning in bed, and sometimes he did not appear until lunch-time; but the morning after Thanksgiving he was downstairs at ten, and proposed that we take a walk over the hills, his hills. It was a gloriously bright, crisp, cold day, and the atmosphere was so limpid that we could see far away. Mr. Clemens put on a fur-lined great-coat and his gray cap, saw that there was a goodly supply of cigars in his pockets, and we started off down the walk, through the pergola, and picked our way to a winding path that led us to all sorts of charming places.

Just as we were starting from the house, Mr. Clemens had stopped me and had said: "I want you to look at this view." I looked at the slope below, that dipped down into a pretty valley, and then at the gentle hills beyond, where winter had forced the trees to drop their sheltering screens, so that unexpected houses and isolated farms were here and there revealed. Mr. Clemens asked, "Do you see that white building over there?" pointing, at the same time, to what was unmistakably a country church. He went on: "We've just discovered that it is a church. It's the nearest one. Just at a safe distance. All summer we thought that it was a wind mill."

That morning walk in the white November sunlight will always remain a vivid memory. We scrambled down the hillside and came to the stream, which Mr. Clemens pointed out to me with the proud gesture of a discoverer. It was just what a New England stream should be, winding and clear, flowing at times turbulently over obstructing stones, and then pausing to form a still, golden-brown pool. We followed its windings with happy delight, finding new beauties to show to each other and to exclaim over. Mr. Clemens told me Indian stories and legends he had heard in his boyhood days.

We came to a tiny cave, at the side of the road, where there were some baby stalactites, and Mr. Clemens stopped there to discourse on the wonders of geology. He told me he had lately been investigating the subject of the formation of the earth, and he had found it so wonderful that he wanted to know more about it. He had found some old treatises on geology which amused him greatly, but he wanted to get some more modern and scientific information.

And so we wandered on, beguiled by the stream, which kept on murmuring seductively of charms farther on.

We talked of the Angel-fish and their many attractions. Mr. Clemens told me of Margaret's last visit to Stormfield and of what good times they had had together. "She is a dear womanly child," said Mr. Clemens, "and we had one conversation together which convinced me more than ever of her sweet consideration for others. She was telling me how she intended to bring up her children, and what were her plans for their education. There were to be two, a boy and a girl. The girl was to be named after her mother. I asked her what the boy's name would be, and she replied, with a reproachful look in her brown eyes: 'Why, Mr. Clemens, I can't name him until I know what his father's name is.' Now, wasn't that truly thoughtful?"

We finally had to leave the stream, for it was the lunch hour, so we made an abrupt turn and approached Stormfield by the opposite side from which we had left it. As we climbed the hill, Mr. Clemens paused a moment to say: "I never want to leave this place. It satisfies me perfectly."

AT luncheon Mr. Clemens spoke of his lasting gratitude to Captain Stormfield. For it was to the success of his Heavenly Experiences that the building of the loggia was due. And that was the reason the peaceful house was thus christened.

Our meal was somewhat hurried by the announcement, made by the deeply-interested butler, that the people were beginning to come. We were to have that afternoon the first entertainment of a series for the benefit of the Library Fund of the village. Mr. Clemens had offered to tell stories, and the entrance fee was to be twenty-five cents. Chairs had been hired from the local under taker, and had been placed in close rows in the big living-room, in the loggia, and out in the hall.

The first who arrived had walked five miles. More came. They came in buggies and in other handy vehicles. They entered the house solemnly and took their places silently, re fusing to make themselves comfortable, and held on grimly to fur overcoats and fleece lined jackets. Soon the big living-room was filled to overflowing, and then Mr. Clemens stepped up to the improvised platform at one end of the long room and bade them welcome. As usual, he made a most picturesque appearance. On the wall behind him was a very large square, of carved, rich, old Italian oak which filled the space between the two windows and formed an effective background for the white-haired, white-clad figure of the speaker. Mr. Clemens told story after story in his happiest vein -- how he became an agriculturist, how he was lost in the dead of night in the black vastness of a German banqueting hall. He was brilliant, wonderful. He seemed determined to bring a ripple into the faces of that silent audience. Once in a while stern features would relax for a moment, but the effort seemed to hurt, and the muscles would become fixed again.

In the back of the room there sat some of the younger generation, who suffered from occasional apoplectic outbursts. And yet we knew that everyone there was enjoying it deeply, hugely, only, as Mr. Clemens said afterwards, "they weren't used to laughing on the outside." And they were proud, too, proud almost to sinning, of their illustrious fellow-townsman, and they would have shouted with laughter, if they only could.

When Mr. Clemens had finished, after an entertainment of an hour and a half, there was no lack of applause. This they could give. The audience dispersed slowly, many of the number stopping to look, with open mouthed but inarticulate admiration, at the beauties and luxuries of this home, so different from theirs.

That evening Mr. Clemens rested himself by playing billiards. Before beginning, he showed me his collection of fish. Charmingly colored pictures of Angel-fish and other varieties were framed and hung low around the billiard-room. He told me that each real Angel-fish who came to visit him could choose one of those and call it her coat-of-arms. There were other very remarkable sketches and caricatures hung on the walls, but Mr. Clemens seemed most interested in the piscatorial collection.

It was sometimes a wonderful and fearsome thing to watch Mr. Clemens play billiards. He loved the game, and he loved to win, but he occasionally made a very bad stroke, and then the varied, picturesque, and unorthodox vocabulary, acquired in his more youthful years, was the only thing that gave him comfort. Gently, slowly, with no profane inflexions of voice, but irresistibly as though they had the head-waters of the Mississippi for their source, came this stream of unholy adjectives and choice expletives. I don't mean to imply that he indulged himself thus before promiscuous audiences. It was only when some member of the inner circle of his friends was present that he showed him this mark of confidence, for he meant it in the nature of a compliment. His mind was as far from giving offense as the mind of a child, and we felt none. We only felt a kind of awe. At no other time did I ever hear Mr. Clemens use any word which could be called profanity. But if we would penetrate into the billiard-room and watch him play, we must accept certain inevitable privileges of royalty.

The next morning as I was going down stairs, Mr. Clemens called to me from his room, in a tone that made me hurry. He was standing by one of the many windows, and he said: "Come quickly and look at the deep blue haze on those barberry bushes! They have never looked quite like this before." Then he went on to say: "When they built this house they had the inspiration to put in these small panes. See how each one frames a wonderful picture, and I can have a different one every time I change my position. No man-made pictures shall ever hang on my walls so long as I have these."

And Mr. Clemens had no picture on his wall, except a portrait of his daughter Jean.

That afternoon we took a long drive over the hills. Mr. Clemens kept no coachman and no carriage at that time, but when he wished a "rig" he sent word to the friendly farmer near by, who would soon appear with a surrey and a team of horses.

I remember that much of the talk that afternoon turned on the strange manifestations of genius and the tragic lives of many of those who were thus fatally endowed.

When evening came that day we asked Mr. Clemens to read Kipling to us again, and thus revive some of the memories of the Happy Island. And so we sat around the big blazing fire, and again the King's voice swept us out to visions of mighty action. More favorites were added. The Three Decker was read with unction, and The Long Trail was read twice over before the audience was satisfied. We wished that Mr. Rogers were there, and, happily, we did not feel the chill prophecy that some of us were never to see him again. An hour before luncheon, on Sunday, we gathered together in the living-room. Some one proposed that Mr. Clemens read aloud to us from his book, What Is Man? Into this work Mr. Clemens had put some of his deepest convictions as to the meaning of life and the principles that guide the human soul. What ever may be their philosophical value to others, he, at least, believed in them utterly, and when he read aloud to us the clear, trenchant dialogue, we, too, were convinced, for a time, of their truth. He grew so earnest that he would often repeat a phrase, twice, in a deep, solemn voice, and he so utterly forgot his pipe that it went out completely.

Our afternoon's peace was somewhat invaded by calls from the outside world and demands that Mr. Clemens should allow himself to be photographed. I often wondered how many thousand times the camera must have turned its eye upon him.

That last evening we played Hearts, for it still continued to be Mr. Clemens' favorite game. Again we missed Mr. Rogers sorely, and wished for his bantering. For no one else of us dared to chaff Mr. Clemens in quite the way that he had done. Besides, we knew that it wouldn't have been in the least humorous. We lengthened the hours as long as we could, for it was to be the last evening together, as the early morning train was to take me away. Since we knew how averse Mr. Clemens was to saying good-by to anyone, we parted that evening with a simple good-night. I did not expect to see him again, but the next morning as I went down to my hurried breakfast I heard his voice calling me. I went to his room. He was lying in his big carved bed, propped up by pillows. On the little table beside him were crowded together pipes, cigars, matches, a bottle or two, and a number of books. He handed one of the books to me, and said, " You must have one of my souvenirs." It was a copy of Eve's Diary, with a kindly dedication in it on the fly-leaf. Then he said good-bye. The November sunshine had gone. The chill of winter had come into the air, and as I drove over the hills to the station I felt that I was going away from something very wonderful and very precious. For the love and friendship of those who have their faces turned towards the sunset is sometimes as rare and sweet and unworldly as that of little children. Perhaps they both are nearer the infinite, and so can understand.

AFTER the happy visit at Stormfield we never saw Mr. Clemens again, but from time to time precious letters came from him, so characteristic that they vividly evoked his presence. He always wrote them in his own hand.

The first one preserved is one that he wrote in answer to an incident of which I had written him an account. I had been lecturing to a class of students on Victor Hugo, and I had dwelt upon the enthusiastic appreciation of Frenchmen for their great men of letters. I had added, as I remember, that we had not yet attained that advanced stage of civilization where we could make heroes of our literary men, and, warming up to my subject, I said that were I to ask the class sitting then before me who was the most beloved American writer, I much doubted if they could, spontaneously, name anyone. Seeing nods of dissent, I challenged them, and a dozen or more responded, "Mark Twain!" while the rest nodded approval.

His answer is as follows --


April 22/09.

Dear Betsy: It is not conveyable in words. I mean my vanity-rotten joy in the dear and pleasant things you say of me, and in my enviable standing in your class, as revealed by the class's answer to your challenge. So I shall not try to do the conveying, but only say I am grateful -- a truth which you would easily divine, even if I said nothing at all.

You must come here again-please don't forget it. We'll have another good time.

Affectionately, S. L. CLEMENS.


Citation: Howells, William Dean. My Mark Twain: Reminiscences and Criticisms (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1910; enl. BoondocksNet Edition, 2001).

To the period of Clemens's residence in Fifth Avenue belongs his efflorescence in white serge. He was always rather aggressively indifferent about dress, and at a very early date in our acquaintance Aldrich and I attempted his reform by clubbing to buy him a cravat. But he would not put away his stiff little black bow, and until he imagined the suit of white serge, he wore always a suit of black serge, truly deplorable in the cut of the sagging frock. After his measure had once been taken he refused to make his clothes the occasion of personal interviews with his tailor; he sent the stuff by the kind elderly woman who had been in the service of the family from the earliest days of his marriage, and accepted the result without criticism.

But the white serge was an inspiration which few men would have had the courage to act upon. The first time I saw him wear it was at the authors' hearing before the Congressional Committee on Copyright in Washington. Nothing could have been more dramatic than the gesture with which he flung off his long loose overcoat, and stood forth in white from his feet to the crown of his silvery head. It was a magnificent coup, and he dearly loved a coup; but the magnificent speech which he made, tearing to shreds the venerable farrago of nonsense about non-property in ideas which had formed the basis of all copyright legislation, made you forget even his spectacularity.

It is well known how proud he was of his Oxford gown, not merely because it symbolized the honor in which he was held by the highest literary body in the world, but because it was so rich and so beautiful. The red and the lavender of the cloth flattered his eyes as the silken black of the same degree of Doctor of Letters, given him years before at Yale, could not do. His frank, defiant happiness in it, mixed with a due sense of burlesque, was something that those lacking his poet-soul could never imagine; they accounted it vain, weak; but that would not have mattered to him if he had known it. In his London sojourn he had formed the top-hat habit, and for a while he lounged splendidly up and down Fifth Avenue in that society emblem; but he seemed to tire of it, and to return kindly to the soft hat of his Southwestern tradition.

He disliked clubs; I don't know whether he belonged to any in New York, but I never met him in one. As I have told, he himself had formed the Human Race Club, but as he never could get it together it hardly counted. There was to have been a meeting of it the time of my only visit to Stormfield in April of last year; but of three who were to have come I alone came. We got on very well without the absentees, after finding them in the wrong, as usual, and the visit was like those I used to have with him so many years before in Hartford, but there was not the old ferment of subjects.

Many things had been discussed and put away for good, but we had our old fondness for nature and for each other, who were so differently parts of it. He showed his absolute content with his house, and that was the greater pleasure for me because it was my son who designed it. The architect had been so fortunate as to be able to plan it where a natural avenue of savins, the close-knit, slender, cypress-like cedars of New England, led away from the rear of the villa to the little level of a pergola, meant some day to be wreathed and roofed with vines. But in the early spring days all the landscape was in the beautiful nakedness of the northern winter. It opened in the surpassing loveliness of wooded and meadowed uplands, under skies that were the first days blue, and the last gray over a rainy and then a snowy floor.

We walked up and down, up and down, between the villa terrace and the pergola, and talked with the melancholy amusement, the sad tolerance of age for the sort of men and things that used to excite us or enrage us; now we were far past turbulence or anger. Once we took a walk together across the yellow pastures to a chasmal creek on his grounds, where the ice still knit the clayey banks together like crystal mosses; and the stream far down clashed through and over the stones and the shards of ice. Clemens pointed out the scenery he had bought to give himself elbow-room, and showed me the lot he was going to have me build on.

The next day we came again with the geologist he had asked up to Stormfield to analyze its rocks. Truly he loved the place, though he had been so weary of change and so indifferent to it that he never saw it till he came to live in it. He left it all to the architect whom he had known from a child in the intimacy which bound our families together, though we bodily lived far enough apart. I loved his little ones and he was sweet to mine and was their delighted-in and wondered-at friend. Once and once again, and yet again and again, the black shadow that shall never be lifted where it falls, fell in his house and in mine, during the forty years and more that we were friends, and endeared us the more to each other.

My visit at Stormfield came to an end with tender relucting on his part and on mine. Every morning before I dressed I heard him sounding my name through the house for the fun of it and I know for the fondness; and if I looked out of my door, there he was in his long nightgown swaying up and down the corridor, and wagging his great white head like a boy that leaves his bed and comes out in the hope of frolic with some one.

The last morning a soft sugar-snow had fallen and was falling, and I drove through it down to the station in the carriage which had been given him by his wife's father when they were first married, and been kept all those intervening years in honorable retirement for his final use. Its springs had not grown yielding with time; it had rather the stiffness and severity of age; but for him it must have swung low like the sweet chariot of the negro "spiritual" which I heard him sing with such fervor, when those wonderful hymns of the slaves began to make their way northward.

Go Down, Daniel, was one in which I can hear his quavering tenor now. He was a lover of the things he liked, and full of a passion for them which satisfied itself in reading them matchlessly aloud. No one could read Uncle Remus like him; his voice echoed the voices of the negro nurses who told his childhood the wonderful tales. I remember especially his rapture with Mr. Cable's Old Creole Days, and the thrilling force with which he gave the forbidding of the leper's brother when the city's survey ran the course of an avenue through the cottage where the leper lived in hiding: "Strit must not pass!" Out of a nature rich and fertile beyond any I have known, the material given him by the Mystery that makes a man and then leaves him to make himself over, he wrought a character of high nobility upon a foundation of clear and solid truth. At the last day he will not have to confess anything, for all his life was the free knowledge of any one who would ask him of it. The Searcher of hearts will not bring him to shame at that day, for he did not try to hide any of the things for which he was often so bitterly sorry. He knew where the Responsibility lay, and he took a man's share of it bravely; but not the less fearlessly he left the rest of the answer to the God who had imagined men. It is in vain that I try to give a notion of the intensity with which he pierced to the heart of life, and the breadth of vision with which he compassed the whole world, and tried for the reason of things, and then left trying. We had other meetings, insignificantly sad and brief; but the last time I saw him alive was made memorable to me by the kind, clear judicial sense with which he explained and justified the labor-unions as the sole present help of the weak against the strong.

Next I saw him dead, lying in his coffin amid those flowers with which we garland our despair in that pitiless hour. After the voice of his old friend Twichell had been lifted in the prayer which it wailed through in broken-hearted supplication, I looked a moment at the face I knew so well; and it was patient with the patience I had so often seen in it: something of puzzle, a great silent dignity, an assent to what must be from the depths of a nature whose tragical seriousness broke in the laughter which the unwise took for the whole of him. Emerson, Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes -- I knew them all and all the rest of our sages, poets, seers, critics, humorists; they were like one another and like other literary men; but Clemens was sole, incomparable, the Lincoln of our literature.

2004 Aerial of Jean's Farm and Stormfield
(it's on the
left side of road, the right is Lee Lane and Glen Hill Road)

The Mark Twain Trail

The Mark Twain Trail is a map of people and places connected to Mark Twain's years in Redding, Connecticut that Susan Durkee prepared in 2006. Susan Durkee is a very talented artist and a huge fan of Twain that just happens to live in a house that sits on the foundation of the Lobster Pot (which was lost to fire in 1953). I have added an online version of Susan's map via Google Maps. The map contains the following:

1. Stormfield. Mark Twain's last home. Twain, encouraged by his biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, bought the 248 acre property in 1906, sight unseen. A year later, he hired John Mead Howells to design an 18 room, two story Italianate Villa. Mark Twain's daughter, Clara Clemens, selected the location for the house, and Isabel Lyon, his secretary, helped supervise its construction.

2. The Lobster Pot. A circa 1720 saltbox located on Mark Twain Lane, a part of Twain's 248 acre Stormfield property. He called the house the "Lobster Pot" as it reminded him of lobster pots he had seen in Maine...the name may also tie-in to Twain's Aquarium as Isabel Lyon lived in this house and it's possible Twain or one of his Angelfish may have playfully referred to Isabel's house as the Lobster Pot. Original house was lost to fire in 1953, but the gardens and patios remain.

3. Markland. Twain gave his biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine a seven acre parcel of land upon which to build a studio, yet insisted that Paine adapt the studio to accommodate a billiards table; "then when I want exercise. I can walk down and play billiards with you, and when you want exercise you can walk up and play billiards with me."

4. Albert Bigelow Paine's house. It was through Paine that Twain discovered Redding. During the last four years of Twain's life, Paine became a virtual member of the family. Paine's house was an an antique saltbox, which partially burned down in the 1960's, one original wing remains on Diamond Hill Rd.

5. Umpawaug Chapel. On October, 28, 1908, Twain dedicated a nearby chapel as the temporary location for the Mark Twain Library. He donated thousands of books from his personal collection. The library was actively used, and a librarian was on hand Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

6. W.E. Grumman's House. Grumman was Twain's stenographer, he was also the first librarian of the Mark Twain Library.

7. A.H. Lounsbury House. Lounsbury was Twain's caretaker and livery man at Stormfield. Lounsbury along with Sheriff Banks, helped capture the two burglars who robbed Stormfield in 1908. Twain always gave credit for the success of their capture to Lounsbury.

8. The Mark Twain Library. The library officially opened at its present location on February 18, 1911.

9. Stormfield Barns and Two Family House. The only original buildings remaining at Stormfield- a two-family house, large stable, chicken coop and outbuildings.

10. Jean's Farm. Twain purchased this farm, which abutted his own property, for his daughter Jean Clemens. Jean joyfully filled the farm with a collection of poultry and domestic animals during her time in Redding. Tragically, she died on Christmas eve, 1909 and Twain promptly had the property sold to build a wing in her honor at the new Library.

11. Theodore Adams' House. Mr. Adams donated the land where the Mark Twain Library sits today at the corner of Diamond Hill Rd. and Route 53. Of course, he needed a little coaxing from the founder himself.

12. Dan Beard's House. Dan Beard was Twain's illustrator and devoted friend. Among the many books and stories he illustrated for Twain included: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Following the Equator, American Claimant, Tom Sawyer Abroad. He designed the wreath for Twain's funeral and published a eulogy to him in the American Review of Reviews.

13. West Redding Train Station. On June 18, 1908, just before 6pm, the Berkshire Express out of NYC made a special stop for Mark Twain's first visit to Redding, Connecticut. The railroad continued to make this special stop from that day on in order to accommodate Twain and his many visitors to Stormfield.

View Tour of Mark Twain's Redding via Google Maps.

The Sunderlands of "Stormfield"

Mr. Philip Nichols Sunderland, looking back on a long and active life, takes particular joy in remembering two things: that he is one of the relatively few people still alive who voted for Grover Cleveland, and saw Mark Twain arrive in Redding. It takes a rather particular talent to have been able to do these two things, but Mr. Sunderland has it- he turned 87 on June 1, 1958, and to all appearances will be able to recall these memorable happenings for a good many years to come.

The vote for Grover Cleveland was cast in 1892, when he had just turned 21. Mark Twain's arrival came 16 years later, and Mr. Sunderland had good reason to be present: he and his father William Webb Sunderland, built the house Mark Twain moved into, the "Stormfield".

The Sunderlands (three generations) never in their many years of building in and around the Danbury area had a job quite like this one. "The first time I ever saw Mr. Clemens, was in the house on Eighth in New York, when I went there with John Meade Howells, the architect, to get the contract signed. The house was designed by that time, the plans were all ready, but the site had not been selected. Mr. Howells came out a little later and approved it. Mr. Clemens I did not see again until the day he moved in. He never saw the site, or the house while it was being built; all he did was sign the contract. His first sight of the entire project was the finished place, painted, furnished and ready for occupancy right down to the cat purring on the hearth."

As Mr. Sunderland recalls it today, "it was really Mr. Paine, his friend and biographer, who planned the whole thing. He and Harry Lounsbury found the site, and I could feel the influence of Mr. Paine on the whole performance. Miss Lyon, Mr. Clemens secretary at that time, decided all the interior decoration. She picked out everything; Mr. Clemens had complete confidence in her, and left everything to her discretion. "I remember once," Mr. Sunderland continued with a smile, "when we had the whole interior finished, painted white, and Miss Lyon decided she didn't like it. The house was supposed to look like an Italian Villa; she felt we had made it look like a New England Colonial place. She said what it needed was a dark stain- so we did the whole place over again in the dark stain..."

It was a big house, Mr. Sunderland recalls- big, comfortable and friendly. Of particular importance was the billiard room. "Mr. Clemens loved billiards; the game was really his hobby, and he played there a great deal with Mr. Paine and the little girls." And there were parties there which he recalls, having been a guest in the house he helped to build. "The biggest party I ever saw there, was when Ossip Gabrilowitsch gave a concert there one evening (09/21/09), who married Clara Clemens. There were lots of people from New York, and a very well known singer (David Bispham) of the time whose name now escapes me.; and I recall particularly the Gabrilowitsch, having recently been operated on for a mastoid infection, still had a patch of sticking plaster over one ear."

And Mr. Clemens? "Ah, he was a striking figure of a man, impressive. He was also a very sentimental person, particularly with children."

"The day he arrived, I went down to be present, as a representative of my father, at his entry into the house. It was all rather informal, I recall; there were quite a lot of people who came out with him on the train from New York and we all drove up from the Branchville station (he says Branchville but that's incorrect, unless a photo surfaces to prove otherwise, Twain arrived in West Redding) in buggies. And it was all there, just as he had wanted it, even to the cat and I believe that he was very pleased.

"I've never been back there since Mr. Clemens died. We've done a great many things since then, of course, and incidentally, my association with John Meade Howells grew into a lifelong friendship and led to his designing several buildings in this area, including the First Congregational Church in Danbury- but I will always remember Mr. Clemens' house. It was a unique experience."

Percy Knaut interviewed Philip N. Sunderland in 1958 for the Redding Times.

Other History of Redding pages related to Mark Twain:

The Stormfield Project has begun, you can track it via my Mark Twain Stormfield Project blog. Below are some posts.

Twain's Time in Redding:


Mark Twain Library:

Mark Twain Centennial Art Collection:

Mark Twain's "Lobster Pot" Studio & Gallery is honored to present a special limited edition "Centennial Collection" of prints commorating Mark Twain's last years in Redding, CT and his death at Stormfield, his Redding home, April 21, 1910. Portrait Artist, Susan Boone Durkee, who lives on the original property which Mark Twain called "The Lobster Pot" is pleased to present this exclusive limited edition of prints using the highest quality of archival inks and paper available. Please view the Mark Twain Gallery of her artwork honoring America's most famous writer and humorist.

Photos of Stormfield

New York Times Articles about Mark Twain in Redding, CT

The Stormfield Project has begun, you can track
it via my Mark Twain Stormfield Project blog.
I update this blog quite often*

The Connecticut Mark Twain Connections Google Map

For the latest updates on our Twain 2010 projects, follow us on Twitter.

The Burglary at Stormfield

www.twainquotes.com Great Resource

www.twainweb.net The Mark Twain Forum (amazing insights).

Here's a scrapbook with pictures of Stormfield from PBS. Click Here.

Resource with links to Twain related sites

The Stormfield Project has begun, you can track it via my Mark Twain Stormfield Project blog.


Inventing Mark Twain:
The Lives of Samuel Langhorne Clemens
by Andrew Hoffman
*Includes Redding info.

Back to TOP | Back to Redding Section | Back to Georgetown Section



History of Redding is a not a business or an organization..It's one person working to promote the history of his hometown
and surrounding areas. All costs are out-of-pocket so donations and/or sponsorships will allow me to dedicate more time
and effort to research and updates.