Mark Twain lived his last years at Stormfield, an isolated Italianate villa in Redding, Conn. Twain bought the expansive property sight unseen and asked not to be saddled with the construction plans. All he wanted was space for an orchestrelle and a red billiard room, and the rest he left up to his daughter, Clara, and his secretary, Isabel Lyon. Twain lived at Stormfield from 1908 until his death in 1910. The home is privately owned these days, but we were lucky enough to have a look at the first floor and the grounds of the house. In 1923 the house burned down, and a smaller version of Stormfield was rebuilt shortly after. It’s difficult to say if anything remains from Twain’s era. However, the garden wall is thought to be original.
While living at Stormfield, Twain decided the town needed a library. He placed a collection sign on his mantel and pressed Stormfield male visitors to donate a dollar to his cause. The library opened in late 1910, after Twain’s death, and still operates today. Before his death, Twain donated a collection of about 1,000 books as a core collection to a temporary library; some remain at the present library, many of those with interesting Twain marginalia. Library Director Beth Dominianni and former library director Heather Morgan showed us a few Twain artifacts, including his billiard balls, traveling cigar case and a homemade writing table.