Author Author – Thursday Doors

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

One of the highlights of visiting the Asylum Hill area of Hartford, is making a stop at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. I had hoped that the center would be open by the time I posted the doors of her house, but any photos of the interior (if any are allowed) will have to wait for a post-pandemic tour. Instead, on the day that I visited the center, mine was the only car in the lot, and I walked the grounds alone. The following are two snippets from the Center’s website.

Walk in the footsteps of Harriet Beecher Stowe, internationally famous author of anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Her 1871 home — now a National Historic Landmark — reflects Stowe’s Victorian decorating choices and includes modern galleries and interactive spaces connecting Stowe’s work to the present.

The following excerpts include a bit of foreshadowing – after all, what would a post like this be without a literary device – regarding next week’s post. If you’re from Connecticut you will likely understand. Others will have to wait a week or do some research.

“The Harriet Beecher Stowe House was commissioned in 1871 as a spec house by Franklin Chamberlin, a wealthy Hartford lawyer. The design likely comes from a published plan. Stowe purchased the property in 1873, and in May of that year, moved in with her husband and adult twin daughters. The family remained there for the last 23 years of Stowe’s life.

After Stowe’s death in 1896 at the age of 85, the house passed out of family hands until 1924, when it was purchased by Stowe’s grand-niece, Katharine Seymour Day. Day lived in the Stowe house from 1927 until her death in 1964. During those years, Day collected manuscripts and objects connected to her famous aunt, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and the house’s Hartford neighborhood, Nook Farm. In 1968, after extensive renovation, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House opened to the public as a museum.”

The Stowe Center is much more than Harriet’s house. There is a research library and one very important neighbor.

“The Stowe Center Research Library offers access to a significant and substantial collection of material related to the Beecher and Stowe extended families, members of the culturally significant Hartford, CT Nook Farm neighborhood, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s groundbreaking novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Collections include more than 12,000 books, 4,000 pamphlets, and 180,000 manuscripts, as well as 12,000 images – photographs, prints, broadsides, posters and drawings.”

As for Harriet’s neighbors, they were none other than Sam and Olivia Clemens, a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Mark Twain.

“In 1873 Sam and Olivia Clemens engaged New York architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design their Hartford Home.

Construction began in August of that year‚ while Sam and Livy were abroad. Although there was still much finish work to be completed‚ the family moved into their house on September 19‚ 1874. Construction delays and the ever-increasing costs of building their dream home frustrated Sam.

Their home measures 11‚500 square feet‚ and has 25 rooms distributed through three floors. It displayed the latest in modern innovations when it was built in 1874. The couple spent $40‚000 to $45‚000 building their new home‚ so once they moved in they kept the interior simple. Mark Twain and his family enjoyed what the author would later call the happiest and most productive years of his life in their Hartford home.”

The Twain House passed through many hands from 1903 until 1963. It was divided into apartments and the first floor served as the Mark Twain Branch of the Hartford Public Library. Formal restoration of the house began in 1963, the same year the Mark Twain House was designated a National Historic Landmark. According to the website,

“The work began with the Billiards Room. Research, physical investigation, and restoration of the rest of the house continued, and all the major rooms of the home were opened in time for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the house in 1974.”

During a tour of the house in 2018, I learned that it was in the Billiards Room that Mark Twain did most of his writing. If you struggle with organizing your writing, it was said that Twain had notes and drafts scattered throughout the room at all times.

Please enjoy the gallery. Some of the pictures are from the nomination forms when these houses were added to the National Registry of Historic Buildings. After that, please step through the comments to find links to the other wonderful doors from around the world. Note: My response to your comments will be delayed today. I’ll be late, but I will get here.

If you are in a hurry and don’t wish to scroll through the comments, click to Jump to the comment form.

129 comments

    • Hahaha – I’m sorry about the socks, GP. I hope you got them back on. The funny thing about the Twain Hose is that he was upset that it cost more to build than originally estimated – with all the details in that place, it’s no wonder.

      Thanks for the visit and for making me laugh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As I understand it, when Twain moved to Hartford, he was attracted to the area after visiting Stowe and decided to build near her house. It is a magnificent house. I’m so glad they have both been purchased and restored. The Twain house suffered from neglect and misuse for many years.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Stowe has an Ohio home snd Twain had one in NY. But Twain said he liked his years in Hartford the best. I’ve toured his house, and it does fit his style. He designed it to do that 🙂

      Like

  1. It is pretty incredible to realize that you are actually walking on history when you walk the boards of these houses. These people were significant in the history of your country and you can touch them in their homes. That is amazing to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In 2018, our daughter gave me a chance to write in the library of the Twain house for 3 hours! It was fascinating. To sit in the room where he read stories to his children – so sweet. I hope to get to tour the Stowe house at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

    • My photos and the NRHB photos were all taken in winter. At other times, gardens give the homes and grounds a different view.

      Your doors are a bit on the chilly side this week, too!

      Like

  2. Hi Dan! Taking a moment out of ‘nursing’ care to read your post. Something told me it would be up my alley. Oh my I studied both these wonderful authors in high school Humanities class. You have so many historic homes up there. Wasn’t the Twain house where you did the writing day awhile back? How I would love to see those homes.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice history lesson today. Had no idea they were neighbors. Both buildings are magnificent, but Mark Twain’s home wins the prize. The stonework, roof, chimneys and balconies steal your eyes away from the doors….the point of this post! Both structures look beautifully preserved, as they should be.

    I can’t help but wonder if these two families went back and forth as neighbors often do. Or if they talked ‘shop’!
    Ginger

    Think positive. Test negative.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think they were friends, Ginger. Mark Twain decided to build his house near Harriet.

      You’re right about the houses eclipsing the doors. The doors are nice, but there are so many details on the Twain House that the doors get lost.

      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What beautiful and distinctive structures. I am always amazed to think such structures were functioning homes. The creativity within those walls must have been something to behold. I love a house that allows room to stretch the creative muscle. I never realized they were neighbors. Their conversations must have been interesting. A lovely enjoyable read, Dan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you liked this post. During the tour, they told us that Twain routinely had guests for dinner and conversation. He was somewhat of an activist as well. I think the part I would have wanted to be there for was when he would read or make up stories for his children. During the tour, we learned what the family did in the rooms. It was fascinating. He designed the house with many things that were state-of-the-art and a little beyond.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What beautiful structures and fascinating histories! Thank you, Dan, for another great post (with great door!). Hope you get some sunshine today. 🌞

    Liked by 2 people

    • The front door, of which my picture did not turn out well, is under the thing that looks like a carport. It is quite large. I will be back in this neighborhood next week. Maybe I can dig up a better picture of the Twain House front door.

      I am sucker for stone buildings, so I loved your doors today.

      Like

  6. They’re both lovely houses. I love the gables on The Stowe house and all the ornamental details on the Twain’s. The two are so different from each other. I really do need to stop and see Mark Twain’s cabin when heading or leaving Baby Girl’s house to see how simple the cabin is compared to his house.

    Interesting history and buildings today, Dan. I enjoyed it and hope you can get in to see the Stowe house’s interior this year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • They are interesting. Stowe’s was already standing when Twain designed theirs.

      I hope you get to visit the cabin. I know he had a house in upstate New York but I didn’t know of anything out west.

      Like

  7. Such beautiful homes. And both are huge! The brickwork alone in Mark Twain’s home would probably cost a fortune today. If there are still people who could do that. You know, with both Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain being such famous and historical figures, I am surprised that I only know they lived near each other from your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I never knew that until I moved here, Lois. Apparently, Twain moved here and liked the area where Harriet’s house was (Nook Farm) and decided to build his house on a nearby lot.

      We are lucky to have these homes to tour. I hope to be able to get inside the Stowe House later this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Dan – gosh what a set up … and I’d love to see it one day … fascinating and I look forward to learning more from you – hope that snow isn’t making life too difficult for you … all the best – Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Hilary. The complex is quite nice. I visited the Twain House, but it was prior to an evening session so I wasn’t able to tour the Stowe House that night.. Of course I was thinking “I can do that any time…” not anticipating the circumstances in which we are living. The snow has been pushed to the side and life goes on. I hope all is well with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow both houses are luxurious and humongous! This sheds a different light on Mark Twain. Did not know that he was from a wealthy family. Read a book from Jonathan Cahn, the Jewish Rabbi (The Oracle ) where Mark Twain plays a role in history. Here’s mine, Jesh
    https://wp.me/p9EWyp-2Cc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Twain wasn’t from a wealthy family, but he became wealthy. He also made some very bad investments and became much less wealthy. That’s interesting that Twain plays a role in history in that book.

      I love seeing the sun in your photos. Bright and colorful – both are in short supply here right now.

      Like

      • Did I misinterpret – I thought you wrote that his parents build that house?
        That’s the Californian sun! I have still about a 1000 images from there in my archives, and my computer told me my space is almost nil, so it will be California for some time, so I can create more space:)

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I like the fancy brick work and have a question. Why do some houses have the white painted background and then board work designs on them? Is that a historical design that was popular at certain times? I ask because I have a game that I play online that features these board designs often on older homes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I toured the Twain House in 2018, but photography was not allowed. I hope to tour the Stowe House later this year, but I’m not sure if interior photography is allowed there. The interior of the Twain House is beautiful.

      Like

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the tour, Teagan. Next week, I hope to take a look at the reason we have these homes to look at today. You’re certainly right about the effort involved in being famous back then, especially the journey that Twain (Clemens) made.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Well you know how we Missourians feel about ol’ Mark Twain :) And if he was that ‘organized’ back in the day, I have to think he would have loved post-its! lol Your post was extra good this week!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • They were both avid abolitionists, anti-racists, so I imagine social causes were part of the conversation. The Twain House is an amazing structure. I toured it in 2018. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but you can almost feel his presence.

      I loved the doors you shared today!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always liked Mark Twain’s books. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was one of those books that was assigned in school and has that stigma attached to it, but it is a wonderful book. Both Stowe and Clemens were supported the abolitionist and emancipation movements. I never knew they were neighbors until I moved here.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. How interesting! I never knew that the Stowes and the Twains were neighbors. I wonder if they ever spoke, writer to writer, when they got stuck or frustrated with their drafts. They were both such pivotal writers–the thought of them sharing a cup of coffee (or a beer) together as they hashed everything out together is certainly an attractive one. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was bittersweet. On the one hand, I was able to get some nice pictures. On the other hand, I was the only person there. I hope these houses are able to open again. I’d like to tour the Stowe House.

      Like

  13. I really enjoyed this post, Dan. Thank you. I wonder if they were friends as well as neighbors. The activity on both homes seemed to have happened at the same time. Which is your favorite?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I understand it, Jennie. Twain was visiting Stowe while here on business and decided to build his house near hers and move to Hartford. I like the Twain House. I think it’s eclectic – like him in many ways – and, I’ve been inside for a tour and for a writing opportunity. I hope the Stowe House reopens for tours this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved this post. How interesting that two amazing authors were close neighbors. Kind of like Louisa May Alcott and Emmerson and Henry David Thoreau. Such beautiful homes too. I need to get out and do some doors!

    Liked by 1 person

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