Of the building of Mark Twain’s Redding home, father says, in the Biography: “Innocence at Home” as the place was originally named, was to be ready for its occupant in June, with every detail in place, as he desired. He had never visited Redding; he had scarcely even glanced at the plans or discussed any of the decorations of the new home. He had required only that there should be one great living room for the orchestrelle, and another big room for the billiard table, with plenty of accommodations for guests. He had required that the billiard room be red, for something in his nature answered to the warm luxury of that color, particularly in moments of diversion…His one other requirement was that the place should be complete. “I don’t want to see it, until the cat is purring on the hearth.” He wanted the dramatic surprise of walking into a home that had been conjured into existence as with a word.”

 And that is exactly how it was.  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.

Mark Twain As I Knew Him by Louise Paine Moore

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The Boys’ Life of Mark Twain
by Albert Bigelow Paine
Chapter LXV- The Removal to Redding

June 18, 1908, Mark Twain’s removal to his newly built home, “Stormfield,” at Redding, Connecticut.

The house had been under construction for a year. He had never seen it– never even seen the land I had bought for him. He even preferred not to look at any plans or ideas for decoration.

“When the house is finished and furnished, and the cat is purring on the hearth, it will be time enough for me to see it,” he had said more than once.

He had only specified that the rooms should be large and that the billiard-room should be red. His billiard-rooms thus far had been of that color, and their memory was associated in his mind with enjoyment and comfort. He detested details of preparation, and then, too, he looked forward to the dramatic surprise of walking into a home that had been conjured into existence as with a word.

It was the 18th of June, 1908, that he finally took possession. The Fifth Avenue house was not dismantled, for it was the plan then to use Stormfield only as a summer place. The servants, however, with one exception, had been transferred to Redding, and Mark Twain and I remained alone, though not lonely, in the city house; playing billiards most of the time, and being as hilarious as we pleased, for there was nobody to disturb. I think he hardly mentioned the new home during that time. He had never seen even a photograph of the place, and I confess I had moments of anxiety, for I had selected the site and had been more or less concerned otherwise, though John Howells was wholly responsible for the building. I did not really worry, for I knew how beautiful and peaceful it all was.

The morning of the 18th was bright and sunny and cool. Mark Twain was up and shaved by six o’clock in order to be in time. The train did not leave until four in the afternoon, but our last billiards in town must begin early and suffer no interruption. We were still playing when, about three, word was brought up that the cab was waiting. Arrived at the station, a group collected, reporters and others, to speed him to his new home. Some of the reporters came along.

The scenery was at its best that day, and he spoke of it approvingly. The hour and a half required to cover the sixty miles’ distance seemed short. The train porters came to carry out the bags. He drew from his pocket a great handful of silver.

“Give them something,” he said; “give everybody liberally that does any service.”

There was a sort of open-air reception in waiting–a varied assemblage of vehicles festooned with flowers had gathered to offer gallant country welcome. It was a perfect June evening, still and dream-like; there seemed a spell of silence on everything. The people did not cheer–they smiled and waved to the white figure, and he smiled and waved reply, but there was no noise. It was like a scene in a cinema.

His carriage led the way on the three-mile drive to the house on the hilltop, and the floral procession fell in behind. Hillsides were green, fields were white with daisies, dogwood and laurel shone among the trees. He was very quiet as we drove along. Once, with gentle humor, looking out over a white daisy-field, he said:

“That is buckwheat. I always recognize buckwheat when I see it. I wish I knew as much about other things as I know about buckwheat.”

The clear-running brooks, a swift-flowing river, a tumbling cascade where we climbed a hill, all came in for his approval–then we were at the lane that led to his new home, and the procession behind dropped away. The carriage ascended still higher, and a view opened across the Saugatuck Valley, with its nestling village and church-spire and farmhouses, and beyond them the distant hills. Then came the house–simple in design, but beautiful–an Italian villa, such as he had known in Florence, adapted here to American climate and needs.

At the entrance his domestic staff waited to greet him, and presently he stepped across the threshold and stood in his own home for the first time in seventeen years. Nothing was lacking–it was as finished, as completely furnished, as if he had occupied it a lifetime. No one spoke immediately, but when his eyes had taken in the harmony of the place, with its restful, home-like comfort, and followed through the open French windows to the distant vista of treetops and farmsides and blue hills, he said, very gently:

“How beautiful it all is! I did not think it could be as beautiful as this.” And later, when he had seen all of the apartments: “It is a perfect house–perfect, so far as I can see, in every detail. It might have been here always.”

There were guests that first evening–a small home dinner-party–and a little later at the foot of the garden some fireworks were set off by neighbors inspired by Dan Beard, who had recently located in Redding. Mark Twain, watching the rockets that announced his arrival, said, gently:

“I wonder why they go to so much trouble for me. I never go to any trouble for anybody.”

The evening closed with billiards, hilarious games, and when at midnight the cues were set in the rack no one could say that Mark Twain’s first day in his new home had not been a happy one.

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“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

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I bought this farm of 200 acres [actually 195 acres] three [actually two] years ago, on the suggestion of Albert Bigelow Paine, who said its situation and surroundings would content me- a prophecy which came true 3 [actually two] years later, when I arrived on the ground.

John Howells, architect and Clara Clemens and Miss Lyon planned the house without help from me, and began to build it in June 1907.

When I arrived a year later it was all finished and furnished and swept and garnished and it was as homey and cozy and comfortable as if it had been occupied a generation.

This was the 18th of June in the present year [1908] I only came to spend the summer, but I shan’t go away anymore.

-Mark Twain’s Entry in the Stormfield Guestbook June 27th, 1908

1906 Land Purchases  Equaled 195 Acres:

First Purchase:
03-24-1906, 75 Acres from William F. and Catherine Kearney

Second Purchase:
05-07-1906, 110 Acres from Albert B. and Arthur S. Hill

Third Purchase:
09-04-1906, 10 Acres from Estate of Sarah E. Jones

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