Visiting the Mark Twain House and Museum

Updated on October 5, 2019
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

The Mark Twain House
The Mark Twain House | Source

Mark Twain is one of America’s most beloved authors. It may come as a surprise to many to learn that he spent a number of his most productive writing years living in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1873, Mark Twain and his wife Olivia started construction of a Victorian-style home on Farmington Avenue after moving from Buffalo, New York. The family would live in the home until 1891 when financial troubles prompted a move to Europe, although they still retained ownership of the property. The death of daughter Susy in the home in 1896 while Twain was still in Europe made it too difficult for the family to ever reside in the home again, and it was eventually sold in 1903.

Despite the sad circumstances that resulted in the sale of the house, the years that Twain spent in Hartford were among his happiest and resulted in the writing of his most notable literary works. Having a community of writers in Hartford at the time, including his next-door neighbor, Harriet Beecher Stowe, certainly helped inspired Twain to write.

Mark Twain House
Mark Twain House | Source

The House

For its day the Twain house was considered a virtual mansion. At over 11,500 square feet and containing 25 rooms it was quite large. It had all of the modern conveniences of its day including hot and cold running water, gaslight illumination, 7 bathrooms, and one of the earliest models of a new invention called the telephone. The Twain’s went to great expense to build and furnish the home, and Mark Twain is quoted as saying about his new home, “It is a home - & the word never had so much meaning before.” Over the next 12 years while living in the house Mark Twain would write The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), as well as many other books, short stories and play’s.

Mark Twain House
Mark Twain House | Source

Today, the house has been meticulously renovated and preserved so that the public can have a unique and intimate glimpse into the life of one of America’s most notable authors. Visits are by guided tour only and this is the only way to fully appreciate the experience. A rather interesting twist to the guided tour is to take a Living History tour where your guide gives the tour from the perspective of one of the family members. We were fortunate to have Mark Twain’s wife, Olivia, give our tour. It was fascinating and I highly recommend this particular tour. Other options include a Graveyard Ghost Tour and a Get a Clue Tour formatted after the game, Clue.

Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. His pen name comes from a riverboat term meaning a measured river depth of two fathoms: mark for measure and twain for two.

Mark Twain House
Mark Twain House | Source

No matter which tour you decide on, I think after seeing the house you will have a greater appreciation for the legacy of Mark Twain. He was a devoted father and husband, and certainly had a passion for traveling, which took him across the globe. His home here in the west end of Hartford is a fitting tribute to his life and a time capsule to a fascinating era in American history. From the growth of America during its westward expansion - to a nation engulfed in conflict over slavery - and then the industrialization of the country, Mark Twain was witness to it all.

The Conservatory
The Conservatory | Source

Visitor Information

Hours: ​

  • The Mark Twain House & Museum is open daily: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
  • Closed New Year’s Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and July 4th.
  • During January and February, the Museum is closed on Tuesdays.

All visits are by guided tour only. Tours are limited to 14 people on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Photography is not allowed in the house. Photos can be taken of the exterior and in the museum area.

Admission Fees:

Guided Tour

  • Adults: $20
  • Senior Citizens age 65+: $18
  • Children 6 to 16: $12
  • Under 6: Free
  • Guided Tours last about 45 to 60 minutes.

Living History Tour

  • Adults: $25
  • Seniors: $25
  • Children (1-16): $17
  • The Living History Tour lasts about 75 minutes.

Graveyard Ghost Tours are by reservation only.

  • Adults/Seniors: $25
  • Child: $17

Get a Clue Tours

  • Adults/Seniors: $25
  • Child: $17
  • On special nights only, please see Museum website for schedule.

Address:

351 Farmington Avenue,

Hartford, CT 06105

860-247-0998

There is ample free parking on the premises.

Source

To us, our house… had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with; and approvals and solicitudes and deep sympathies; it was of us, and we were in its confidence and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction.

— Mark Twain
Mark Twain House
Mark Twain House | Source

What to Expect on Your Tour

As you enter the grounds of the Mark Twain House and Museum you will first enter the newly constructed museum center. Here you can purchase your tour tickets, watch the 15-minute Ken Burns film - Mark Twain, browse the book store, and explore the museum exhibits. When your tour starts your guide will usher you from the museum and visitor lobby through the grounds to the house. Along the way, you will pass the Carriage House, which is not part of the tour.

The Carriage House
The Carriage House | Source

The main house is 3-stories with no elevators so make sure stairs are not a problem for you. Your tour will take you through the house working from the first-floor Entrance Hall up to Twain's beloved Billiard Room on the third floor. It is here that Twain did all of his writing. Along the way, you will see the Library, Dining Room, Conservatory, the Drawing room, and the numerous bedrooms including the Mahogany Room (guest suite). You will certainly notice the extensive detailed woodwork throughout the house and the many furnishings gathered from the Twain‘s trips around the world

Many Thanks to our Guide, Livy
Many Thanks to our Guide, Livy | Source

After completion of the tour, you will have an opportunity to walk the grounds at your own pace and can now take as many photos as you desire. The home is a stunning example of Victorian Gothic architecture and it is clear that the Twain’s loved their home and were very happy living here. While you are here consider a visit to the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, which is right next door. What an amazing convergence of literary genius.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House
The Harriet Beecher Stowe House | Source

The formal restoration of the Twain home started in 1963 when the house was designated a National Historic Landmark. The work was completed by 1974, in time for the 100th-anniversary celebration of the house. Today, the Mark Twain House & Museum is one of the most visited historical sites in the Hartford area.

A
Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT:
351 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105, USA

get directions

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Bill De Giulio

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      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        8 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you, Flourish. The house has been beautifully restored and we found the tour very interesting. It’s very sad that their daughter died in the house, which led the Twain’s to eventually sell the house.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        8 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you, Linda. It’s a fascinating place to visit. Mark Twain was an interesting character and we thoroughly enjoyed touring his home.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        8 days ago from USA

        What a beautiful and historic homestead but sad too with the death of his daughter. Thanks for highlighting this and mentioning the Harriet Beecher Stowe house next door as well. I would love to visit.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        9 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This looks and sounds like a very interesting place to explore. I like the architecture. I didn't know that Mark Twain's house was a museum. I enjoyed learning about it.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        9 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you, Heidi. Twain was quite the character, well travelled, and certainly had a sense of humor. The home was beautiful with a lot of detail wood work and items from his travels. A very enjoyable visit.

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 

        9 days ago from Chicago Area

        Would love to see this! Twain is a favorite author of mine, but more for his wit and wisdom than his books and stories. Thanks for taking us on the virtual tour, even though you couldn't get some of your usual amazing photos of the inside.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        10 days ago from Massachusetts

        Pam, that’s great that you got to see both homes. Quite the writing legacy in that neighborhood. They have done a lot of work on the grounds in recent years. The entire visitor center and museum I believe are fairly new. Glad it brought back some good memories.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        10 days ago from Sunny Florida

        Several years ago my sister and I toured both of these homes. It sounds like maybe even more work has been done or perhaps I don't remember it all. You wrote an excellent review of this home. It is a gogeous home and your pictures are good as well. Thanks for bringing back some good memories for me also.

      • lizmalay profile image

        Liza 

        10 days ago from UT,USA

        That's great! I should put this in my itinerary list next year!

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        10 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you, Peggy. We really enjoyed the tour, especially from the perspective of Twain’s wife, Livy. The interior has been restored and is just as gorgeous as the exterior. Have a great weekend.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        10 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you, Liza. There are a number of other historical sites in southern New England. The Springfield Armory is just across the border in western Massachusetts as well as the Dr Sues Memorial and Museum. Boston is just 90 minutes away and loaded with historical sites.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        10 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thanks, Mike. He certainly did have quite a life. He loved to travel and spent a lot of time touring the world. The inside of the house is a reflection of his adventures with artifacts from all over the world.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        10 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you, Bill. The detailed wood work in Twain’s home was absolutely amazing. I wish they allowed photos of the interior, but you get an idea by looking at the exterior. Have a great weekend.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        10 days ago from Massachusetts

        Hi John. I’ve lived in the area most of my adult life and just got around to seeing the house and museum. Not sure why it took so long, when things are close by I guess we take them for granted. Have a great weekend.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        10 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you, Mary. It was an interesting experience visiting the house where Mark Twain wrote most of his great works. Southern New England has much to see, right now the foliage is changing and it’s a wonderful time to visit this part of the country.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        10 days ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you, Louise. They did a wonderful job restoring the house. It’s definitely worth a visit.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        10 days ago from Houston, Texas

        That is one gorgeous home! Thanks for photographing the exterior and telling us about it. It would be fun to take a tour and see the interior.

      • lizmalay profile image

        Liza 

        10 days ago from UT,USA

        I have never been to Connecticut, Bill. Mark Twain's house looks historical and architecturally gorgeous! I would love to visit the house that has converted as a museum. Is there any other historical landmark around this area? Thanks for sharing!

      • Readmikenow profile image

        Readmikenow 

        10 days ago

        Excellent article. I enjoyed reading it and the pictures are very good. Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors of all time. Many people don't know his birth name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He had quite a life.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        10 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Those two homes are spectacular! My God the craftsmanship that went into them...stunning! Thanks for the tour, my friend.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        10 days ago from Queensland Australia

        This is one place I would really love to visit, Bill. Mark Twain was a wonderful writer and real inspiration. The house looks magnificent. Thank you for sharing.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        10 days ago from Ontario, Canada

        I would love to visit this place. It's a beautiful house but it is also quite an experience to be where Mark Twain wrote. I will be interested to see what's around it, too.

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 

        10 days ago from Norfolk, England

        How interesting. I had no idea Mark Twain lived in such a lovely house. I'd love to visit here.

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