information on Mark Twain's final residence, Stormfield. Help
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a PowerPoint Presentation of Twain's
Time in Redding
Twain's Arrival in Redding, CT:
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.
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. “
York Times: "Do you like it here at Stormfield?"
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."
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.”
L. Clemens letter to Dorothy Quick dated June 19, 1908
Twain in Redding CT Timeline
June 18, 1908:
Arrives in Redding
Twain’s nephew drowns in NJ, he travels to NYC for funeral
& retires from NYC for good.
1908: Burglars break
in to house.
Burglary at Stormfield, September 18th, 1908. This
is quite an interesting story which is followed by the
burglar's own account.
Twain requires every male guest to leave $1 for library.
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.
Daughter Jean arrives in Redding.
May 1909: Close
friend Henry Rogers dies.
Experiences heart pain & remains in bed most of June &
Paine moves into Stormfield to aid Twain.
1909: 500 guests attend benefit for library fund.
1909: Clara’s wedding celebrated at Stormfield.
1909: Leaves for a month in “Bermooda”. Doctor’s orders.
1909: Twain returns to Redding.
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.
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....”.
of Twain in Redding shot by Thomas Edison (1909)
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.
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.
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.
entries are written by Samuel L. Clemens:
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  I only
came to spend the summer, but I shan't go away anymore.
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.
Dec. 29, 1908
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!"
Andronicus, Act I, Scene I
Keller's guestbook entry January 11, 1909:
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."
daughter of Eve. Helen Keller
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.
of Stormfield from: MEMORIES OF MARK TWAIN IN BERMUDA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
so we wandered on, beguiled by the stream, which kept on murmuring
seductively of charms farther on.
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?"
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
Mr. Clemens had no picture on his wall, except a portrait
of his daughter Jean.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
answer is as follows --
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.
must come here again-please don't forget it. We'll have another
S. L. CLEMENS.
Howells, William Dean. My Mark Twain: Reminiscences and Criticisms
(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1910; enl. BoondocksNet Edition,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Mark Twain Trail
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:
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
W.E. Grumman's House. Grumman was Twain's stenographer,
he was also the first librarian of the Mark Twain Library.
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.
The Mark Twain Library. The library officially opened
at its present location on February 18, 1911.
Stormfield Barns and Two Family House. The only original
buildings remaining at Stormfield- a two-family house, large
stable, chicken coop and outbuildings.
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.
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.
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.
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
Tour of Mark Twain's Redding via Google
Sunderlands of "Stormfield"
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.
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".
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."
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
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."
Mr. Clemens? "Ah, he was a striking figure of a man, impressive.
He was also a very sentimental person, particularly with children."
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.
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
Knaut interviewed Philip N. Sunderland in 1958 for the Redding
History of Redding pages related to Mark Twain:
Project has begun, you can track it via my Mark
Twain Stormfield Project blog. Below are some
Time in Redding:
Twain Centennial Art Collection:
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.
York Times Articles about Mark
Twain in Redding, CT
Stormfield Project has begun, you can track
it via my Mark
Twain Stormfield Project blog.
I update this blog quite often*
Connecticut Mark Twain Connections Google Map
the latest updates on our Twain 2010 projects, follow
us on Twitter.
The Burglary at Stormfield
The Mark Twain Forum (amazing insights).
a scrapbook with pictures of Stormfield from PBS. Click Here.
with links to Twain related sites
Stormfield Project has begun, you can track it via my Mark
Twain Stormfield Project blog.
The Lives of Samuel Langhorne Clemens
by Andrew Hoffman
*Includes Redding info.
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