Katharine Day House – 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).

I hinted last week that there was a link between that post and this one. The hint was found inside one of the quoted portions from the Harriet Beecher Stowe House website,

“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.”

Katharine Seymour Day purchase her great aunt’s house and moved from New York City to Hartford. After moving into the Stowe House, she learned that developers had plans to demolish the Twain House and build either an apartment house or a car dealership on the lot. Katherine Day organized a group known as The Friends of Hartford to save the historic home. The group quickly raised $100,000 and purchased the Twain House in 1929. In 1937 she formed the Stowe, Beecher, Hooker, Seymour, Day memorial Library and Historical Foundation, to oversee the maintenance of the houses and the development of a visitor center and library. In 1940 she bought the house now known as the Katharine Seymour Day House, which she used primarily for meetings of the various organizations she supported. Today, this houses the administrative offices of the Stowe Center.

The house was built 1884 by Franklin and Mary Porter Chamberlin. Some say, that Chamberlin built the house to upstage Twain. The Nook Farm neighborhood of Hartford, had several impressive house by that time. The house is Queen Anne in style, but in my opinion, it includes elements of Italianate and both Stick Style and Eastlake styles that preceded the Victorian era. Some of the architectural elements typically found in these styles are shown in the two photos below.

The gallery also includes some pictures from the National Registry of Historic Buildings Nomination forms for these buildings. Three images are of the Day House, and two are interior photos of the Twain House. Since you are not allowed to take pictures during the tour, these are the only interior photos I have. One is special to me. In 2018, our daughter gave me the opportunity to write for three hours in the Twain Library for my birthday.

I also included two photos that I have of the building from that evening in 2018. I think it’s nice to see it with lights on. One photo is looking in the main entrance. The door is open and barely visible.

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143 comments

  1. Yet another thorough, most enjoyable post. Thank you for the crash-course in architecture :) I do appreciate the extra time you took to label, Dan.
    What a charming home, nestled among trees. Almost hidden, shying away.

    It brought to mind:
    “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you until it seems that you cannot hold on for a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time when the tide will turn.”

    My post to follow…

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s interesting to see the three of them, as well as the auxiliary buildings, on this site. I’ve only been in the Twain House, but it was fascinating.

      I am a fan of double doors, so you hit the spot today.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It was a time where houses were homes that were built with statements. They had meaning and reflected the world around them. They were all individuals. Now we put up boxes 200 at a time and call them homes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s true, Pam. There are several more large homes in this area, but they are all different. I like the way these three are united. And I am so glad they didn’t tear down the Twain House to build a car dealership! We live in one of 200 boxes, but we’ve done our best to make it unique.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So glad you wrote about these houses — not only the architectural elements but also the update on who purchased what has ensued as a result of those property transfers. Wonderful homes to preserve, and I’m especially happy about the tie to the library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks – I’m glad you like this story. I always enjoy finding out more about the story behind the doors/houses. These all came so close to being lost, Katharine Day did us all a favor when she realized the significance of these homes. It has taken over 80 years to bring her ideas to fruition, but we have an asset in Hartford as a result.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is architecture Heaven! Once again, an interesting history. The interior you were able to share with us is as grand as the exterior! These homes reflect their original owners personalities. And they were HOMES. Today they are houses and reflect nothing of their inhabitants. So glad these were preserved.
    Too many incredible details to just single out any door!
    Ginger

    Think positive. Test negative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is an incredible area, Ginger. It’s why I decided to split it into two posts. It would have gone on forever (and you know I like to be brief ;) – The important story here is that this woman saved the Twain House from being turned into a car dealership! Can you imagine looking at pictures of what that house was and knowing that it have been torn down to sell Chevys?

      There are so many details in these buildings. I know that Twain wanted them, and The Day House may have been built in response to that. I guess keeping up with the neighbors has always been a thing.

      Like

  5. This is a grand upstaging project. A marvellous house and what a great present you got! I’m curious about what you wrote in there. I’m afraid that I’d be too overwhelmed to write but would rather roam around and try to take photos without being seen. My favourite bit is the eyebrow window. I wouldn’t notice it without your arrow and wouldn’t know how it was called. Well done.

    Let me show you more Viterbo and its doors in the carefree afternoon February sun of last year.

    https://mexcessive.photo.blog/2021/02/11/thursday-doors-11-2-21-viterbo-3/

    Liked by 1 person

    • We took a tour of the house before the writing event. During that, there was no getting up and roaming, unless to use the modern bathroom in the lower level. The eyebrow windows are more in keeping with the Romanesque style, but they were popular on Victorian homes. They may have been added to allow light into otherwise dark rooms.

      You’ve got some wonderful doors on display this week. I hope your weather is kind to you, Manja. Stay safe.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jean. Just spending three hours in that library was an amazing feeling. To be where Mark Twain read to his children and, when they didn’t want him to read, he made up stories. I can only imagine.

      I like your old house, although I thought it was two houses.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Dan – interesting to find out that Queen Anne style – English is very different from American! But thanks for the two photos … and the others. How wonderful of Faith to give you that amazing present – how many aspiring authors would love one of those … must have been a truly wonderful experience …
    Interesting too about the history of the two women – Katherine Seymour Day certainly had her heart in the right place remembering Harriet Beecher Stowe … and now have the Centre.
    Fascinating – thank you … all the best Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you appreciate the history, Hilary. I think we owe a huge debt to Katherine Seymour Day. She was a strong woman with great vision. I’m sure it was quite a feat to raise $100,000 in those days. I don’t know the exact date, but I’m guessing it was before the Depression began. Writing in the Twain Library was a huge thrill. I hope to be able to do it again at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dan, that was a period in history when houses were built with purpose. So nice to see them lovingly preserved. What a special birthday present to spend time in the Twain library. My offering this week https://picture-retirement.com/2021/02/11/palm-beach-doors/

    Thanks for stopping by earlier this morning. I think I linked my ping-back to last week’s post. Do you have a ‘page’ to link to or should we just wait for your Thursday post to come out and link to it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Suzanne. I enjoyed your photos today. These houses, at least the Twain House, came so close to being destroyed and lost forever. We owe a lot to Katherine Seymour Day .

      Each Wednesday, you will find the Thursday Doors badge on the right sidebar of my blog. It includes the URL for the upcoming Thursday Doors post. It usually has the date when the URL will be active. You can link in advance, the pingback should appear. I know at least one person is using that link. The badge is there today, although it’s not necessary, but you can see what the link looks like.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The houses are gorgeous inside and out. The gables, bricks, and so many fine details are amazing. The craftsmanship and talent it took to make them are incredible. Do we have such talented masons today?

    Thanks for listing all the parts in the two images to start. I’m always wondering what things are called. Then you see the name and think, ” oh that makes perfect sense”! 😀

    That was a unique and cool gift to be able to write in the Twain’s library!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The eyebrow windows are interesting. You can buy them as ready-to-install units today, but they are still very difficult to shingle around. I watched them do it on This Old House and thought I might go crazy if I had to do that. The architectural details are simply amazing. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing this house.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Whether or not you like that style, you have to admit the craftsmanship and attention to detail (which might be one and the same) are amazing. Our house in Ohio was built in the 30’s and had all sorts of touches you would pay a lot to get today. It also had a number of Art Deco features.

    I’m going rouge again this week with two more gates, although I do have a door as well. :-) But talk about craftsmanship!!

    https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2021/02/11/thursday-doors-dream-doors

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t want to have to maintain either of these houses (I doubt people are going to give me money to do so) but I do enjoy seeing them. Details like balconies and eyebrow windows are expensive to add today, but some are still somewhat popular. I love Art Deco style elements, and despite the limited time they were popular, I think they still look interesting.

      You door and gates were amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. These are gorgeous, Dan. Thank goodness for someone like Katharine Seymour Day for believing these homes should be preserved. Thank you for the outline giving the names of all the various home features. I learned from you the term ‘eyebrow window’ and keep on the lookout for those–I love them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember your asking about the eyebrow windows, Lois. I think I may have steered you wrong about the circular decoration inside a gable of a different house. I found a description that called that ‘cresting’ but when I looked up cresting for this post, I found that it’s only called that when used on roof peaks. The decorations around the gables are Bargeboards or Verge Board – according to some. In any case, I love the details on this house, and I’m very glad that Katharine Seymour Day had the will and foresight to purchase and preserve these houses.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes Virginia carpenters do work in ginger bread, brick-a-brack, and icing. But are they castles or houses ? Yes. And when you think of it it is an incredible miracle that they have survived together as they have. Thank goodness that only a few people said this would make a lovely site for a car dealership. Thank goodness that door was kept locked and shut. Thanks Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can you imagine, John? Seeing a car dealership and knowing that Mark Twain’s house used to sit there. In addition to every other reason, the site is on top of a hill that is virtually inaccessible from the road. The parking lot for the Twain Center is about 1/4 mile west of the house.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Two thoughts here. First, most of the grand homes were built before income taxes and they could afford to build whatever they desired and have the help to serve them and the money to maintain them……Second, it is usually a woman that goes on to save a building they deem historical……Just sayin! Thank you for placing the details on the photos, so interesting and I know nothing about architecture! I shall look for the eyebrow window, that was my favorite term! Even today, in many pocket neighborhoods in the larger cities and even in our small village they are tearing down the older vintage cottages and replacing them with very modern affairs! it is just awful! Here is the Big Picture from Oslo!https://thecadyluckleedy.com/2021/02/11/thursday-doors-the-big-picture-in-oslo-norway/

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re lucky Twain had the money to build this house, because he lost most of his money later in very bad investments in printing technology. I don’t know about women in general (I’ll take your word for it) but Katharine Seymour Day gets a hat tip from me for saving the buildings that now make up this great historic site in Hartford.

      I know we can’t save every historic building, but tearing down Mark Twain’s house to build a car dealership sounds like a very bad idea.

      Your doors are enormous (well the buildings are). Those were fun to look at.

      Like

  13. Many thanks for adding the markers of this style, Dan, since in most of Europe and Asia, that style is not common. What a great thing Katherine Seymour did to save the Twain house, so we can still enjoy it! Here are mine, and thank you for your comment about the Hornblower!A few months before the pic was taken I had met someone from New Zealand whose last name was Hornblower, and whose hubby worked for Microsoft. We hit it right off as best friends:)
    https://wp.me/p9EWyp-2Il

    Like

    • There may well be. People have reported seeing a female floating apparition in the Twain House that they guess is his daughter Susie, who died in the house at a very young ages. And, there is the “Spirits at Stowe tour” held in the Stowe house, where spirits have been reported. None appeared the night we were there.

      Like

    • It was a wonderful gift. I love the details on Victorian houses. they put so much into what other architects leave as mundane functional features.

      I love the bridge you shared. It’s so good to see it restored for pedestrian use.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been in the Twain House, and I hope to be able to tour the Stowe House later this year. The Day house isn’t normally open for tours, but I do hope to see the inside at some point. The exterior is magnificent.

      Like

    • Perhaps. I think we hold a special fondness for Twain. Also, the Day House is a somewhat traditional Queen Anne house, but Twain’s house has a few eclectic elements that I think reflect the image we hold of him.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve seen the Stowe House but I think it was being renovated when we were there . We went through the Twain house . Fascinating that plans were to tear it down back in the 1920s . Great bits of history preserved .

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Okay Dan
    this might be one of the best birthday gifts EVER
    In 2018, our daughter gave me the opportunity to write for three hours in the Twain Library for my birthday.

    cheers to that

    and loved the follow up form last week and I enjoyed your little diagrams for learning
    Especially now knowing what an eyebrow window is – aren’t those cool?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The eyebrow window seems to be the favorite feature. They are nice to look at, and probably functional for letting light in, but they are difficult to build and put shingles over. Writing in the Twain Library was a great experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Your doors were a special delight for me, Robbie as I have been very near that setting.

      I am so glad that Katharine Day had the foresight and the ability to raise the funds necessary to save these homes.

      Like

      • I really like Suffolk, Dan, but it is quite cold there compared to other places in the UK. Mind you, for a South African, everywhere is cold. We have a lot of family in Bungay so I haven’t actually seen all the places I would like too yet. I would definitely want to help preserve places of historical interest and I’m really glad people have had the foresight to do this in the past.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Wow! I keep looking at these photos. Love the detailed brick work, gables, and the eyebrow window. So, this house is in the same area as the Stowe and Twain houses? I remember that you had the opportunity to write for three hours in Mark Twain’s library. Thank you for a fabulous doors post, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

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