Albert B. Paine It was through Paine that Twain discovered Redding. During the last four years of Twain's life, Paine became a virtual member of the family. Paine's house was an antique saltbox, which burned down in February 1972, one building remains at the base of Diamond Hill. In the Stormfield Guestbook Sam wrote: I bought this farm… 2 years ago, on the suggestion of Albert Bigelow Paine, who said its situation and surroundings would content me- a prophecy which came true…I only came to spend the summer, but I shan't go away anymore.
Paine on the porch of Markland, a gift from Sam that Paine used as his study.
March 19, 1906 Mr. Paine spoke to me about a piece of land with an old farm house on it in Redding… $2,000.00 is the price- and when I told Mr. Clemens about it, he closed in with the idea as a good investment, and Mr. Paine has sent off the first $100.00 to bind the bargain. I didnt think he would want it, because I couldnt think he would want anything that I want. With an aching heart I reached out for that farm for I dont ever want to go back to Farmington again. ~Isabel Lyons Journal
May 23, 1907 During the ground breaking ceremony, Isabel, John Howells, Paine, Lounsbury, and several others pour a bottle of whiskey down the first hole dug. Clemens wanted no part in it, he refused even to discuss the subject of new construction. He wont allow himself to be informed or consulted; he will pay the bills and thats all he will do, but when the house is finished then he will go to it… He doesnt want to see it, or hear anything about it. ~Isabels Journal
Call me when its done and send me some visitors!!
Isabel Receives Lobster Pot Just before Sams departure to London, in appreciation for her services, Clemens deeded to Miss Lyon the Lobster Pot. On June 13 th, Isabel visited her dear little home and found it Oh…so darling, and planned to make it beautiful in the near future. But Stormfield was first priority and when she discovered it was being built on the wrong spot she quickly halted construction. *Clemens was in London to receive an Oxford degree.
Stormfield project almost halted By mid-July, Clemens returned from London with second thoughts about living so far away from the city. In addition, the site had to be moved for the second time and building plans were in need of alteration to accommodate Claras wishes. Architect John Howells advises Twain to continue the project noting: Arresting work at Redding at this time would probably make you liable for between $10,000 to $15,000.
Stormfield Project Team Architect: John Mead Howells Builders: W. W. Sunderland and his son Philip, of Danbury, Connecticut Assistant Builder: Harry Lounsbury Construction Management & Interior Decoration: Isabel Lyon *Albert B. Paine and Clara Clemens played roles as well.
Isabels Managerial Style? Kept em on their toes The workmen were not slow in learning that the little woman who was likely to appear suddenly in their midst [on] any day, had knowledge, sympathy, tact, taste, and executive ability of a high order. Under her leadership they worked amazingly. Simultaneously, she was supervising Eugene Adams, who was renovating the Lobster Pot.
View from the Rear of the Lobster Pot after Renovation No Patio
Construction drew much interest Twain's great house, in the process of being built, had been a mighty curiosity. Families drove in from miles around on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon to look at it... It was the chief topic of conversation… it was designed…in the style of an Italian Villa, which, to us, meant palace. There were no other palaces around. Everyone wondered why the famous old man wanted to build a great mansion in such a lonely, isolated place; the land wasn't good for anything but grazing, and it had hundreds of red cedar trees to prove it was useless. ~Coley Taylor
Redding, Connecticut was a simple farming community in 1910 Billiards (pool, to the village loafers) was rather frowned upon by the solid citizens of Redding. But one of the biggest rooms in the Twain house was the billiards room! ~Coley Taylor
Redding, Connecticut 1900-1910 Population 1900: 1,426 Population 1910: 1,617 +191 180 Visited Twain in 1908 Alone
Mark Twains Arrival On the 18th of June, 1908, at about four in the afternoon we left New York City by an express train that was to make its first stop in Redding that day. With Mr. Clemens were my father, a reporter or two, a photographer and that most fortunate little girl, myself, whose boarding school closed that day so that I, too, was homeward bound to Redding. Waiting for us at the Redding station was a proud array of carriages, flower trimmed, and filled with smiling people who waved warmly. I knew I would never forget it. Mr. Clemens waved in return, then stepped into his own carriage and drove toward the beautiful house that was to be his last home. -Louise Paine
Platform where he arrived West Redding Station & General Store circa 1920 (I used this photo because it included a view of the platform)
This side now enclosed How West Redding General Store Looked in 1908
Park across the street from the station, likely where people lined up to view the arrival of Clemens.
… as he entered the leafy way [Mark Twain Lane] he said, This is just the kind of a lane I like, thus completing his acceptance of everything but the house and the location. Then came the housesimple and severe in its architecturean Italian villa, such as he had known in Florence, adapted now to American climate and needs. How beautiful it all is? I did not think it could be as beautiful as this. Mark Twains Arrival
How Sam would have seen the house upon his arrival
He was taken through the rooms; the great living room- the splendid, glowing billiard-room. Then to the floor above, with its spacious apartments and a continuation of color. When he had seen it allwhen he had completed the round and stood again in the billiard-roomhis especial domainonce more he said, as a final verdict: It is a perfect houseperfect, so far as I can see, in every detail. It might have been here always.
I was never in this beautiful region until yesterday evening. Miss Lyon and the architect built and furnished the house without any help or advice from me, and the result is entirely to my satisfaction. It is charmingly quiet here. The house stands alone, with nothing in sight but woodsy hills and rolling country. Samuel L. Clemens letter to Dorothy Quick dated June 19, 1908
Clemens Redding house was reported on (almost daily) by newspapers and magazines Worldwide.
Stormfield had a 100 light system, below is the only other building in Redding that had modern lighting. Miss Lyon is going to put a couple powerful reflector-lamps in there for night service- the glare will make the place look like a light-house…the house already looks like a factory thats running overtime to fill rush-orders. ~Twain letter to Frances Nunnally, Oct. 29, 1908
Twain thanks Construction Workers from the back terrace Check out the size of the cigars!!
The Party Begins! There were guests that first eveninga small home dinner-partyand so perfect were the appointments and service, that one not knowing would scarcely have imagined it to be the first dinner served in that lovely room. A little later; at the foot of the garden of bay and cedar, neighbors, inspired by Dan Beard, who had recently located near by, set off some fireworks. Clemens stepped out on the terrace and saw rockets climbing through the summer sky to announce his arrival.
The Party Begins! That first evening closed with billiardsboisterous, triumphant billiardsand when with midnight the day ended and the cues were set in the rack, there was none to say that Mark Twains first day in his new home had not been a happy one.
The Party Begins! After that- the visits from his friends & beloved Angel Fish begin and he could not have been more pleased as his letters below show: Two angel-fishes arrived this afternoon, to stay a week, and we shall have good times. How Livy would love this place! How her very soul would steep itself thankfully in this peace, this tranquility, this deep stillness, this dreamy expanse of woodsy hill & valley! It is the most satisfactory house I am acquainted with, & the most satisfactorily situated... I have dismissed my stenographer, & have entered upon a holiday whose other end is the cemetery.
The Angel Fish He had a little group of schoolgirl friends whom he called his "Angel Fish." Each one of us was given a small enamel angel fish pin from Bermuda, and each was assigned one of the charming collection of fish pictures which used to hang on the walls of his billiard room. He inscribed each name carefully on the picture. Collectively, we were referred to by him as "Members of the Aquarium." One of the obligations of the membership was to write regularly to the "Curator of the Aquarium." His replies were prompt, and in longhand. ~Mark Twain As I Knew Him by Louise Paine Moore
Good Company was Always a Priority Letter to Dorothy Quick August 10, 1908 …I only have Tammany & her kittens, Miss Lyon & Mr. Ashcroft. But they are all good company. Yesterday we played hearts several hours or at least 3 of us did…Ashcroft plays the orchestrelle for me a great deal; and he has improved so much that…if I dont see him I think it is Miss Lyon. And he plays good billiards now.
Twain the Naturalist Half a mile from the house there is a deep little gorge spanned by an antique stone bridge with a singe arch under it. I am going to stop up the arch & make water flow over the bridge & make a cataract, to be called the Aquarium cataract. Miss Lyon and I walked down (by the way of the old bridge) to your house day before yesterday & climbed those cliffs that fence your clearing. It is to be repeated tomorrow. Yesterday morning after the rainstorm I went down to the gorge to see the results. You cant think what a cataract was raging past the Brushwood Boys seat!
Burglars toss some water on the fun September 18 th, 1908 letter to Margaret Blackmer …I have had the most pleasant 3 months here, with delightful guests coming & going, some staying a day or two & some a week…And as soon as we can arrange the date, you & your mother must come. Postscript: Burglars in the house after midnight this morning. They are on their way to jail this afternoon. We are buying a couple of bulldogs & hoping they will call again.
12 midnight Burglary, 7:30am Captured, 9:00am Arraigned, 12 noon Off-to-Jail Thats swift justice…moral of the story? Dont mess with Twain! Danbury Evening News, Friday, September 18th, 1908: "Crooks carry off Humorist's Silverware. Caught while fleeing by train. One jumps from car while other uses revolver."
Library Effort Begins October 11 th, 1908 letter to Margaret Blackmer …We are all to help open the Mark Twain Library about an hour from now. It wont be a very formidable ceremony. *Clemens gave a large collection of his surplus books to the Town of Redding to be used as the nucleus for a public library.
Angelfish attend Mark Twain Library dedication in style
The Chapel that was used as the first Mark Twain Library
Mark Twain Library Opened to Public in 1908 Location- Corner of Umpawaug & Diamond Hill Open Wednesdays & Saturdays, 4pm to 7pm First librarian was Twains neighbor William Grumman
The Guests Keep Coming… I am keeping a hotel, and no train comes or goes without bringing me a guest or robbing me of one. Mr. Howells is coming & he is a love (but you mustnt flirt with him) and Colonel Harvey is coming; if there is a spare bed I hope your mother will come, too. A week ago I drifted over the 73-year frontier safely & entered my second childhood in good shape. It was like passing a milestone in the dark- I couldnt notice anything was happening. We have had a good many guests since the burglar days.
The Power of Attorney Document On November 14, 1908 Clemens appoints Ashcroft and Lyon his true and lawful attorneys…to exercise a general supervision over all my affairs and to take charge of and manage all my property both real and personal… Later, in 1909 this power would come into question, yet in the seven months that they had this power over all Sam owned there is no proof (to-date) that they exploited it. Ashcroft did incorporated the Mark Twain Company on Dec. 22, 1908 with $5,000 capital stock but that was to Sams benefit.
The Angel Fish Come Through for Christmas Stormfield, December 26, 1908 Letter to Dorothy Sturgis- All the 12 were heard from yesterday except you and one other. The missing pair were heard from to-day & the tale is complete & I am glad. Stormfield, January 2, 1909 Letter to Dorothy Quick- We had a pleasant Christmas in spite of Robert Colliers Elephant. Miss Lyon and Mr. Ashcroft were horribly worried…
Hartford Courant December 28, 1908: Elephant for Mark Twain Redding- Just before Christmas Samuel L. Clemens at his place here got word from his friend Robert J. Collier of New York, that the latter would send him an elephant as a present. This caused much anxiety at the Clemens household, especially Miss Lyon who contacted Mr. Collier to explain there was simply no room for an elephant at Stormfield…Collier replied oh, just put him in the garage. The elephant arrived on Christmas morning. It turned out to be a toy elephant about as large as a good sized calf and mounted on wheels.
I have been in Eden three days and I saw a King. I knew he Was a King the minute I touched him though I had never touched a King before. ~ A Daughter of Eve. Helen Keller Jan. 11
February- Isabel falls ill, Ashcroft is in England, Paine is in the Mediterranean, Clara arrives & applies some pressure on Sam to review the finances. I.L. R.A.
Sams longs for the good ol days With Ashcroft, Paine and Lyon away, day after day Clara followed Sam… from his bedroom to his billiard room, arguing that he needed an impartial review of his finances and reminding him of past trusted aides that had swindled him. Paines wife wrote to her distant husband that the poor old man is being driven crazy by the accusations and told her until three weeks ago he thought he was happy and well off, but since then it has been Hell and that if things did not get better he would cut his own god damn throat.
The Ashcroft-Lyon Scandal Until early April 1909 Ashcroft & Lyon remain two of Sams favorite people. Below are notes appearing in letters about them in 1909: Major General Sir Ralph Ashcroft, Lord Bishop of Benares, has gone to England on business for me & we do miss him so! Miss Lyon has been sick in bed several weeks, and has gone to Hartford…indeed she needs it. We have had guests all the time & she has overworked herself.
The Ashcroft-Lyon Scandal Howells visited in March and noted: the Ashcrofts watch over him with tender constancy. Recalling the Ashcroft-Lyon wedding, March 18, 1909, Sam stated: The Ashcrofts & I were soon very friendly and sociable again, and I hoped and believed these conditions would continue, then he adds Clara hoped the opposite.
Hubris…the root of all downfalls Ralph Ashcroft made three mistakes. 1.He challenged Clara. Before he left for England, Clara suggested to him that an objective person review her fathers books. He replied: Are you sure you want to, since it will reveal your expenditures? 2.He bragged about his power of attorney. I can sell his house, over his head, for a thousand dollars, whenever I want to! 3.He lied to Sam. In a move to make Clara look unreliable he lies about the butler being fired.
The Ashcroft-Lyon Scandal Ashcroft agreed to turn over the ledgers in April, 1909. Sam turned to Henry Rogers hoping he might find something less damning than Claras suspicions, a discovery that would relieve Sam of having to hate two people he had loved only six weeks before. In mid-May, Sam went to NYC to meet with Rogers and discuss his ledgers. At Grand Central Clara met him with horrible news: Roger was dead. The expression of grief in Fathers face was pitiful to behold Clara wrote.
Jean Comes Home On April 26 th Jean wrote her name in the Stormfield guestbook. Her Doctor had finally agreed, full of apprehension, to allow Jean to make a one-week trial visit to Redding. She would never leave again. An adjoining 125 acre farm became hers complete with barns and livestock. Ironically, this property was purchased for Clemens by Ashcroft in one of his final transactions as business manager.
Jean enjoys Redding, Redding enjoys Jean Whenever she saw us, she stopped to talk. Somewhat later she told us that she had bought the farm across the road from us, gave us permission to roam all over it, and asked us to visit her. In the autumn she asked us to drive off any hunters we caught there. We exchanged information, in season, about the best berry patches or where to find the best hazelnuts, butternuts, and hickory nuts…she would explain the mysteries of nature to us: the size of the earth, the distance of the sun and moon from us, and how ancient the different colored layers of stone in the ledges of the glen were. We children were devoted to her. ~Coley Taylor
In bed most of the Summer/Fall 1909 I can answer your question definitely, now, Francesca Dear. It is heart- disease…what I have termed- tobacco heart…it has taken 63 years to build this disease. I was immune that long anyway. …it subjects you to many, many, many inconveniences…you can make no journeys, even short ones; you must spend about 20 of the 24 hours in your room & and mainly in bed; you must smoke only 4 times a day instead of 40; and finally you must do very little work. If you neglect anyone of these things, the blood pressure increases and the pains come.
525 Guests at MTL Benefit Concert On September 21, 1909- Detachments and squads and groups came from everywhere; some in motor car, some in buggies and carriages, and a swarm of farmer-young-folk on foot from miles around. The artists were received with great welcome and it woke them up, and I tell you they performed to the Queens taste! The program was an hour and three-quarters long and the encores added a half-hour to it. The enthusiasm in the house was hair-lifting. -Twains recap of the event
October 6, 1909 Clara & Ossip exchange vows at Stormfield Joe Twitchell officiated, Jean was the bridesmaid and Jervis Langdon was the groomsman.
Jean Dies at Christmas Clemens returned from Bermooda a few days before Christmas, where he watched Jean decorate the house, buy and wrap presents, and manage household affairs with her usual energy. On December 23, after a quite evening, they said good night to one another. Up early to make the final preparations for Christmas, she entered the bathroom at 7am and never returned. Christmas Day- A snow-storm is raging. Clara is in Germany. She lies in her coffin at the other end of this room, beautiful in death.
Jean Dies at Christmas Clemens wrote in The Death of Jean: Possibly I know now what the soldier feels when a bullet crashes through his heart. I lost Susy thirteen years ago; I lost her mother five and a half years ago; Clara has gone away to live in Europe; and now I have lost Jean. How poor I am, who was once so rich! Seven months ago Mr. Roger died--one of the best friends I ever had.. Jean lies yonder… She lies there, and I sit here--writing, busying myself, to keep my heart from breaking. How dazzlingly the sunshine is flooding the hills around! It is like a mockery.
Twain retreated to Bermuda from January-April 1910 The Boys' Life of Mark Twain by Albert Bigelow Paine Chapter LXIX. The Return to Redding: "As we turned into the lane that led to Stormfield he said: Can we see where you have built your billiard- room? The gable of the new study showed among the trees, and I pointed it out to him. It looks quite imposing, he said"
On April 21, 1910, Samuel L. Clemens died in Redding, Connecticut at the age Of 74. The New York Times, April 22, 1910 Samuel Langhorne Clemens, "Mark Twain," died at 22 minutes after 6 tonight. Beside him on the bed lay a beloved book - it was Carlyle's "French Revolution" - and near the book his glasses, pushed away with a weary sigh a few hours before. Too weak to speak clearly, "Give me my glasses," he had written on a piece of paper. He had received them, put them down, and sunk into unconsciousness from which he glided almost imperceptibly into death. Mark Twain born, Nov. 30, 1835. Last perihelion of Halley's comet, Nov. 10, 1835. Mark Twain died, April 21, 1910. Perihelion of Halley's comet, April 20, 1910.
Bouton & Son Funeral Home West Church Street, Georgetown, CT April 23, 1910 Mahogany Casket $450.00 Mahogany Box $100.00 Professional Services $50.00 Embalming $50.00 Hearse at Redding $8.00 Hearse at New York GCD to 37th Street $6.00 Hearse from 37th Street to D,L,W $7.00 Transferring Box to Hoboken $3.50 Four Porters at $3.50 each $14.00 Coach from 37th Street to 22nd Street $4.00 Conveyor for Flowers $3.50 Corpse Ticket Redding to New York City $1.20 Corpse Ticket New York City to Elmira, NY $6.10 Total: $703.30
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated
Twains legacy is alive and well at the Mark Twain Library in Redding where we do our best to promote his time here in Redding.
Early view of the Jean L. Clemens Memorial Buildings interior.
Stormfield A personal favorite as it shows Stormfield and the Library
Sold in late 1922, Stormfield burned to the ground July 25, 1923 Margaret E. Givens had purchased Stormfield as a summer home … At least she got to enjoy the 4 th of July there.