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.
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