Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Trip To The Mark Twain House

In May 2006 my children and I toured the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut. Another homeschooling mother had arranged for a "school group trip". They give homeschooler-groups the same generous discount that they give school group trips.

I had not realized that Mark Twain's children were homeschooled (tutored at home) and part of the tour included a trip to their 'school room'. I liked that my children saw that homeschooling is not a modern "thing". In reality children learning at home has been the norm for more years than institutional schooling has in Connecticut. Connecticut has been a state for over 350 years and public schooling was first put into use in this country in Massachusetts in the year 1850. And yet after public schooling existed in Connecticut some families still chose to perform their "duty" (a term I have taken directly from the Connecticut law)and home educated their children for a number of years.

The house was lovely and was fully restored. They did not allow visitors to take photographs inside the house, so I have none to share with you. If visitors want to take home images they'd have to buy the images in postcard or in one of the books that the gift shop sells.

(The house is situated backwards on the lot. These two views from the street shows what is the back of the house. The niceer looking front of the house is viewable from what we normally would call a "back yard". Twain wanted the living quarters to look out over the rolling hills of the countryside which were in the back of the house--and he put the kitchen and working quarters at the house's back--on the street side. We were told this caused quite a stir as this idea of Twains' was so unconventional and strange.)

On the trip we got an overall impression of what it was like to live as a wealthy family, of course. The self-guided portion of the museum included an exploration of Twain's investments and of things that he invested in--failed inventions that sucked up his money and that in the lend left him in financial ruin. That display told of how Twain lost everything (financially) and how he ended up in debt and had to sell off the contents of the house (many were re-purchased for the museum), and that he did finally have to sell the house and stop living in an affluent manner. I mention this because the visit to his home did not leave us with only the impression of what living in wealth was like, it was a more broad view of his entire experience while we see the lovliness of such an extravagant and unique house from his wealthy period.

The view of the front of the house.

There was also a "kitchen tour" which we did not take. I'd like to do that on another trip. (It is a separate fee.)

I will say that my own children had the most FUN rolling down the steep hill outside. How typical is that for boys aged, at the time, 5 and 8.

This is the view from the "side yard" at the bottom of the steep hill.

If you are a fan of Mark Twain or live nearby the the Mark Twain House, this trip is a great way to make history come alive for both you and your children.

Again it will have the most meaning if you have read some of Twain's books (and like them), know a little about his life before you go and if you already know something of history at that time.

I am ashamed to admit that it took me 39 years of living less than an hour away from this historical site to finally visit it. How ridiculuous is that?

1 comment:

penumbra_ said...

thank you for this post. i made a link in my blog.