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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Elmira in Chemung County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Mark Twain in Elmira

 
 
Mark Twain in Elmira Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 15, 2017
1. Mark Twain in Elmira Marker
Inscription.
How did Samuel Clemens arrive in Elmira, NY?
Thirty-two-year-old Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) first saw the image of Elmira's Olivia Langdon while traveling on the Quaker City Steamer — a cruise ship charted to visit Europe and the Holy Land. Clemens was onboard to report the journey. While traveling Clemens met Olivia's younger brother, seventeen-year-old Charles Langdon, and the two became friends. Charley showed Samuel a picture of his older sister, twenty-two-year-old Livy. Much later, a courtship began, and marriage followed on February 2, 1870.

Summers in Elmira
Beginning in 1870 and continuing until 1889, Samuel and Livy and their growing family spent summer months in Elmira where they stayed with Livy's adopted older sister, Susan Crane, and her husband, Theodore, at their home, Quarry Farm. Quarry Farm was located on East Hill overlooking the Chemung River. By Clemens' own admission, life in Hartford offered many distractions, while the relatively quiet life at Quarry Farm allowed him to "pile up manuscript" at a more satisfying rate.

The Study
In 1874, Susan Crane had a small octagonal study built for her brother-in-law above the main house. Susan Crane hired Alfred Thorp, Edward Tuckerman Potter's associate, to design the unusual study, which had a latticework
Marker detail: Mark Twain's Study image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Mark Twain's Study
(1) The Study in its original location on East Hill
(2) The Study was moved here from Quarry Farm in 1952
frieze and other decorative details resembling those of the Clemenses' year-round home in Hartford, CT. Albert Bigelow Paine commented that the building was "...somewhat suggestive of a pilot-house — overlooking the long sweep of grass and the dream-like city below" (Paine, Albert Bigelow. Mark Twain: A Biography. I, 507-08). In the Study, Clemens wrote major portions of his best-known works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In an interview with a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1886, he remarked that the Study "may be called the home of Huckleberry Finn and other books of mine, for they were written here."

In 1952, the Study was moved from its original location at Quarry Farm to the Elmira College campus. Here, the Study is preserved, and visitors can easily access it. The Study is open for visitors in late Spring, Summer, and early Fall. If you are viewing the Study in the off-season, please feel free to call (607) 735-1941 to arrange a visit to the Study and the Cowles Hall Exhibit. If available, we will be happy to open both the Study and the Exhibit for you. If you do not have a cell phone, cross Park Place to Tompkins Hall and the Security Office (ground level, left). An officer may open the Study for you, or you may call the
Marker detail: Cowles Hall image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Cowles Hall
(1) Mark Twain Exhibit in North Wing of Cowles Hall
(2) Cowles Hall (November 1870)
above number from the Security Office.

Cowles Hall
The cornerstone for Cowles Hall was laid in 1854, and Elmira Female College opened in October 1855. Its central octagonal design was popular in the mid-nineteenth century and was reflected in many homes in the region. Olivia Langdon's father, Jervis Langdon, served on the College's Board of Trustees, and Olivia was a student at the College. She entered the program of the Preparatory Department in 1858. Her enrollment and the record of her studies with Elmira College professors qualifies Olivia as a member of the Class of 1864.

Other Twain Sites of Interest
Visit Langdon Plaza, the site of the Langdon Mansion
Visit Woodlawn Cemetery where Mark Twain and his family are buried.
 
Location. 42° 5.866′ N, 76° 48.852′ W. Marker is in Elmira, New York, in Chemung County. Marker is at the intersection of Park Place and West 7th Street, on the right when traveling north on Park Place. Touch for map. Marker is located on the Elmira College Campus, on the east side of Park Place, just inside the fence, beside the sidewalk leading to Mark Twain's Study. Marker is at or near this postal address: 800 Park Place, Elmira NY 14901, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mark Twain Study (a few
Mark Twain in Elmira Marker (<i>wide view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 15, 2017
4. Mark Twain in Elmira Marker (wide view)
steps from this marker); Mark Twain Watering Trough (within shouting distance of this marker); Elmira College (within shouting distance of this marker); Kopernik (approx. half a mile away); A.M.E. Zion Church (approx. half a mile away); Old Second Street Cemetery (approx. half a mile away); Ernie Davis (approx. half a mile away); Pulaski Park (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elmira.
 
Also see . . .
1. The wooden octagon in which Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee were born.
Clemens summered in Elmira at the home of his in-laws, the Langdon’s, for much of his adult life. He alternated between the Langdon mansion in Elmira and Quarry Farm up on a nearby hill. From the farm, which Clemens often walked to, the author could look over the Chemung valley. It was here, in an octagon study built for him by his sister-in-law, that he wrote his most famous works. (Submitted on June 13, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Restoration Revives Elmira College's Historic Cowles Hall.
To salvage the 158-year-old Cowles Hall at Elmira College and maintain its aesthetic and historic
Mark Twain in Elmira Marker (<i>side view; Mark Twain Study in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 15, 2017
5. Mark Twain in Elmira Marker (side view; Mark Twain Study in background)
value, an extensive $29-million stabilization and restoration project was commissioned. The project aimed to revive the college's first campus building, which had been closed for more than 20 years. Work was completed in two parts: the stabilization of the foundation and skeleton in preparation for interior demolition and the floor-by-floor rebuilding of the interior. (Submitted on June 13, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, Music
 
Mark Twain Study (<i>view from near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 15, 2017
6. Mark Twain Study (view from near marker)
<i>Samuel Clemens Looking out from the study window, Quarry Farm, East Hill, Elmira New York.</i> image. Click for full size.
T.E. Marr (Curtis Publishing, courtesy of New York Heritage Digital Collections), July 17, 1903
7. Samuel Clemens Looking out from the study window, Quarry Farm, East Hill, Elmira New York.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 14, 2018. This page originally submitted on June 13, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 13, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   7. submitted on June 14, 2018. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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