In 1906 Mark Twain was in his seventies. On the recommendation of his biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, he purchased 240 acres in Redding, CT, and built an Italianate house, calling it ‘Stormfield’. In June, 1908, Clemens moved to the new property and lived there until his death in 1910. His youngest daughter and close companion: Jean, was given a house on the northeast corner of the estate.
Within five months of moving to Redding, Clemens joined with his new neighbors to form the Mark Twain Library Association. A Mr. Adams donated the land where the Library now stands. Clemens enjoyed raising money for the Library through such amusing stratagems as charging his houseguests to retrieve their luggage as well as supper dances and benefit concerts.
Jean Clemens died tragically on Christmas Eve, 1909 from a seizure. A day or two before Samuel Clemens died in April 1910, he wrote a generous check for the construction of a library building to house his personal collection of books. This was combined with the $6000 proceeds from the sale of Jean Clemens’ house to erect the Jean L. Clemens Memorial Building. This Library opened in late 1910 and served the Redding community for almost 60 years.
In 1972, a round addition allowed increased space for both books and community functions. Work on the most recent renovations occurred in 2000. The additions and renovations pictured here reflect Redding’s growing needs for books, media and technology as well as children's activities and community spaces.
The role of libraries have changed. Ironically, in the age of the internet, the need for research and help finding good information has increased. Libraries continue to fill the needs of early learning, fostering a love of the written word and the free exchange of ideas, but have also become a center for community interaction.
The Mark Twain Library offers public meeting spaces, with their own entrances, that can be isolated from the stack areas for security. Central spaces have been designed to allow public gatherings for fund-raising as well as small theatrical presentations, including films, readings, lectures and live music.
Mark Twain Library, Redding, CT