Visiting the Homes of Mark Twain & Harriet Beecher Stowe {Connecticut}

On our last day of our New England weekend we went to visit a a corner of houses belonging to a couple of the country’s most esteemed authors. The street itself was a lovely collection of homes and gardens and seemed like a great place to live. We were commenting on the surrounding neighborhood when the striking architecture of one house on the top of a hill stopped us mid sentence as we looked in awe at the incredible detail of the building- we had arrived.

Mark Twain House & Museum

The first stop was to visit the Mark Twain House. We began with a tour of the home of Samuel Clemens, more commonly known as Mark Twain. His home has been described as part steamship, part medieval fortress, and part cuckoo clock.

Tours of the house run every day from 10:00am- 4:00pm and tickets cost $24/adult, $14/child. The interior offers an incredible look at gilded age finery. Some of said that it is Downton Abbey’s American cousin. (Sadly, they do not allow photography inside the house but you can check out some of the rooms online HERE). The tour was a fascinating look at one of the country’s greatest authors and what influenced him in his writing.

the library of Mark Twain House (

Along with his wife Olivia and their three daughters, the Clemens family called this house home from 1874 to 1891. It was here that Twain wrote his most beloved stories including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, and so many more.

Next to the house was the Mark Twain Museum that gives visitors a greater understanding of the man behind the words. He called many places home before finally settling down here in Connecticut. He had what he called the ‘vagabond instinct’ and that would fuel many great experiences and inspirations for his writing.

Twain was not known to mince his words or to temper opinions. He wrote about things as he saw them and was unapologetically true to what he believed and thought about the world. People often said that his was a pen that was warmed up in hell for the fiery unbending way of sharing his opinion.

Financial troubles came later to the family after some financial investments into some technology research didn’t pan out as it should. To recover some of the funds, Samuel Clemens began touring and giving speeches. His wife and oldest daughter accompanied him through Europe with his speaking appointments. The two youngest daughters stayed home, too young to join the family. Tragedy struck however when the youngest of the daughters became ill and passed away while the family was abroad. After that the house was sold, too painful for the family to return to, and they went abroad for the following years.

The house is an incredible work of architectural wonder and to see it and to learn about the man who created such wonderful stories was amazing.

Harriet Beecher Stowe House & the Stowe Center

Adjacent to the Mark Twain House is the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. Harriet Beecher Stowe is considered one of America’s most influential writers with her novel that brought more of the tragedy of slavery to light in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This book was cited as helping to lay the foundation of the American Civil War and continues to be a powerful example of anti-slavery writing.

This lovely cottage was Stowe’s home from 1873 till her death 23 years later, where she passed away in the upstairs bedroom surrounded by her children and sister. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and later was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 2013. While she wrote her famous novel while living in Maine, it was here that she really enjoyed the fruits of her success.

Because of Stowe’s sobering book about slave life in America, she has been a pivotal point in more modern discussions on social justice and positive change in the country. Next to her home is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center that serves as a mission center dedicated to bringing about such changes in society and understanding.

Stowe would continue writing late into her life. Her books were successful but nothing to the level that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was. She was on regular lecture tours throughout the country and assisted in the establishment of the Hartford Art School.

Katherine Seymour Day House

There is one final house here on this famous corner, that of Katherine Seymour Day. She was a grandniece of Harriet Beecher Stowe and was a preservationist and it is because of her purchase of the homes and the later efforts to preserve them as historic landmarks that saved them from being demolished to make way for development.

Her home is another wonderful example of beautiful architecture displaying the finery of the early 1900s. A visit here is not complete without a nod to the woman who gave the opportunity to see these homes of such powerful authors.

If you want to see more homes of authors I love, then you may be interested in these places:

Lucy Maud Montgomery – Canada

Nathaniel Hawthorne- Massachusetts

Thanks for joining me on this visit to the Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe homes. May your words be filled with power and compassion.

29 responses to “Visiting the Homes of Mark Twain & Harriet Beecher Stowe {Connecticut}”

  1. Wonderful post, Meg! We haven’t been to Connecticut yet, but these will definitely be on our list when we go. I had not hear of Katherine Seymour Day, but I do love the beautiful house. Thanks for sharing these with us!

  2. What a splendid literary corner you discovered and how wonderful,those three homes have been preserved. I had not heard of Katherine Seymour Day but have some of Mark Twain’s works and Uncle Tom’s cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Great post!

    • Thank you Marion 🙂 To have such influential writers as neighbors must have really been the talk of the neighborhood. The architecture and fardens of them were just incredible!

    • Thanks Hannah 🙂 The architecture of the houses was incredible! Mark Twain is a favorite of mine and a prominent figure of on my bookshelves so getting to see his house was amazing!

  3. Mark Twain’s house!! What a majestic building inside and out, plus I love that description, very apt. The no-photos inside policy would break my heart, but my god what an interior. I certainly relate to the “vagabond instinct”, though I have yet to write a blog in the same league as Huckleberry Finn. Must do better. What a sad end to the Mark Twain House story 🙁 The Harriet Beecher Stowe House is a grand old building too and actually reminiscent of some of the protected country houses we have in Britain. Well, that’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin onto our reading list. Finally, the Katherine Seymour Day House is another fine old dame and I must admit to not knowing too much about the woman herself. Another bookmark for when there’s time to investigate stuff. Cheers, Meg.

    • Cheers Leighton 🙂 His house was amazing! Honestly, I could have spent hours gazing at the incredible details inside and out. No wonder why he was so inspired while he lived there! I think we all can relate to that vagabond instinct to some degree- that desire to move, and go, and see. I would not be surprised in the least to see your name on a bookshelf next to Mr Twain’s one day and I’ll get all all the feels in thinking I knew you when you were a blogger. Uncle Toms Cabin is not a happy read, but definitely one that started an important discussion.

  4. We visited Connecticut a few years ago and also toured through the Mark Twain House. Don’t you just love the New England style of houses? Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  5. Wonderful post, Meg! Loved how you featured both authors who fought against oppression — especially Twain, who vehemently disagreed with the U.S. colonizing the Philippines.

  6. An interesting read. The houses are gorgeous. This post sent me down a rabbit hole about Stowe. I found out that critics of her work didn’t like that a white woman was writing about the black experience (and there were many other contradictions like the fact that she was anti-slavery but thought whites were superior to blacks and advocated sending them back Africa). I’m currently reading American Dirt, which is written by a white woman and is a riveting read but has been criticized because the author is writing about the Mexican migrant experience, of which she has no experience in other than her extensive years-long research. It’s all so very thorny, but interesting to see it’s been that way for a while.

    • I can see where Stowe would be so controversial, to not only be a white woman but a wealthy white woman writing about slave life. I also read that critics thought it was disingenuous since she was a northerner who didnt have slaves so its not like she was writing about what she she saw happening around her. It almost feels like using a serious social issue of the day as a quick and easy way to make money. But on the other hand, maybe she had a friend who did know and she wrote the story from that. Like the man from Kentucky who wrote Memoirs of a Geisha. Like you say, a little thorny when you start looking at the background of the story.

  7. Great read Meg, I didn’t realise Mark Twain went by another name and also that Uncle Toms Cabin was the catalyst for the Civil War. Love reading pieces like this about lesser well known historical figures.

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