The Mark Twain House was nothing like I had imagined. The author of Huckleberry Finnand various other stories of growing up poor had quite the opulent house built for him and his family in Hartford. He did grow up poor, but by the time they had the house built, he had made quite a bit of money through writing (and his wife had family money as well).
The house itself is partly Gothic in style, with some Asian influences thrown in. You can kind of see the combination in the pictures of the outside. It is three floors (plus a basement), and had gas lamps and indoor plumbing including hot water on all floors when it was built.
No pictures were allowed inside, but a tour of the house took us through the front door and into the entryway where hand stenciled designs on wood panels lent a Moroccan feel. The drawing room and dining room were really fancy, with the butler’s pantry as big as my kitchen! The tour wound its way through the library with the attached conservatory, then upstairs to the bedrooms. The top floor had another guest room plus the billiards room that also served as a study.
Not only was the house bigger and fancier than I was expecting, but it was really interesting to learn that Sam Clemens (Mark Twain was his pen name) and his wife were active in the local social scene and loved to entertain. The house was very carefully restored with original furniture and details when possible, supplemented with antiques when nothing was available from the original house. It gave a great sense of atmosphere to the house to be able to wander into period rooms, though to protect all the items the blinds were partially drawn which made it seem very dark.
You can only get into the house through a tour, but I thought it well worth it, especially for all the stories about the family. The tour takes around an hour and there is also a vistor’s center to check out.