Mark Twain’s Many Mansions

[New York Press]

In this week’s New York Press, I’ve got a story about Mark Twain’s long-forgotten residence in Greenwich Village—and the 1954 crusade to save it. I first discovered this while doing some research (on one of these) for grad school stuff, and I quickly became obsessed with it. As you’ll see in my Press story, though, things got really interesting when I tracked down one of the story’s main players—a British film director who happens to be celebrating his 99th birthday this week. (This week also happens to be the centenary of Twain’s death; they just missed each other.)

Anyway, the story’s obviously a New York-centric one, so, in deference to all the non-New Yorkers out there, I thought I’d share some photos I took while reporting this. Up top is the plaque—still there at the corner of Fifth and Ninth in Manhattan—that the Greenwich Village Historical Society set up in 1925. (Clara, Twain’s daughter who put up the “NO BILLIARDS AFTER 10 P.M.” sign, was at the ceremony.)

Here’s another 1840s townhouse a few blocks over from the site of the Twain House. (The Twain House, thanks to its architect, included more flourishes than this house: stained glass windows, Romanized details, and a whole lot of wrought iron.)

Here’s the faux-historical sign the developers slapped on the “tall ultramodern apartment building.”

And here’s Twain at 21 Fifth Avenue, chalking his cue. There are a ton of great photos like this in Paine’s three-volume biography, which is available on Google Books. Here’s the third volume, in which, at several points, Paine signals that Twain was a bit of a cheater.

About Craig Fehrman

Craig Fehrman is a Ph.D. student in Yale’s English department and a freelance writer. He's working on a book about presidents and their books [more] . . .
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