Writers and tourists flock to Mark Twains house

Image Source: Crashing the Globe

The Mark Twain House in Hartford, Conn., is experiencing a reawakening after years of financial turmoil. PHOTO: marktwainhouse.com

To us, our house was not unsentient matter. It had a heart and a soul, and eyes to see us with and approvals and solicitudes and deep sympathies. It was of us, and we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction.

Mark Twain

Mark Twains house in Hartford, Conn., has always been troubled with problems dating back to the 1870s.

However, thanks to its current caretakers and an increasing number of visitors (many with famous names), the home seems to have found more peace than it has known in more than 140 years.

The Hartford Courant reports the house on Farmington Avenue, now a museum and tourism site, faced severe financial difficulties in recent years including the embezzlement of more than $1 million over eight years by a former controller as well as the cost of a building and operating a new museum and visitors center.

Samuel Mark Twain Clemens would appreciate such problems.

Construction on the hosue began in August 1873. Clemens and his family moved into the house in September 1874 even though there was a lot of work left to be done amidst staggering cost overruns.

Clemens financial problems forced the family to leave the house in 1891. They would never return. They sold the property in 1903, unable to face living in it again after their daughter Suzy died there in 1896.

To many writers, however, the Mark Twain House borders on sacred.

It very much is holy ground, David Baldacci, a best-selling writer of thrillers and a member of the houses board of trustees, tells the Courant.

That sort of sentiment among writers has been the key to houses financial and tourism comeback.

Last year, authors such as Stephen King, Scott Turow, Alice Hoffman, Sue Grafton, Christopher Moore, Penn Jillette, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Anita Diamantgave presentations at the house giving it renewed prestige as a literary center.

It has become a living, breathing experiment with a forward-looking vision as to how history and the future can work as one, Baldacci tells the Courant. The future is represented in all the amazing programs now offered there, as well as the innovative events designed to broaden and deepen awareness about Twain and his career.

National Geographic named the Twain House one of the Worlds 10 Best Historic Homes in 2012.

The Courant reports that this years slate of visiting authors includes Dan Brown, Debbie Macomber, P.J. ORourke, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Pete Hamill and William Mann.

From April 25 to 27, the houses host its third annual Writers Weekend. More than 20 writers will given presentations. Admittance is $150. The fourth annual Mark My Words, where three famous authors are interviewed by a celebrity host, comes in the fall.

The Courant reports that the house went from 10 programs in 2009 to more than 100 in 2013. Former Executive Director Jeffery Nichols tells the Courant the hiring of Jacques LaMarre as the director of communications and special projects was a huge boon to house.

We were dead in the water in 2008, but when Jacques LaMarre showed up, things really began to take off, Nichols tells the Courant. He brought that spark.

More information on the house is available by going to www.marktwainhouse.org.