This article is a guest post by David Mariotti.
While sailing to Europe as a correspondent for a California newspaper, the great American writer, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), became friends with fellow passenger, Charles Langdon. After they had become close–most likely over many drinks and cigars– Langdon showed Clemens a picture of Langdon’s sister, Olivia, who was back home in Elmira, NY. After the tour group returned to the US (a tour which became the material for Clemens’ first successful book, The Innocents Abroad), Clemens asked to meet Olivia, which led to romance, marriage, and Clemens’ long association with Elmira, New York.
During many summers, Clemens wrote in a small, charming study that was built for him by his sister-in-law, Susan Crane in 1874. The study was originally located at Quarry Farm, in the hills east of Elmira, NY, but was moved to the campus of Elmira College in 1952. In September of 1874, Clemens wrote (to Dr. John Brown):
We have spent the past four months up here on top of a breezy hill, six hundred feet high, some few miles from Elmira, N. Y., and overlooking that town; (Elmira is my wife’s birthplace and that of Susie and the new baby [Clara]). This little summer house on the hill-top (named Quarry Farm because there’s a quarry on it,) belongs to my wife’s sister, Mrs. Crane.
And to his friends, the Twitchells, he wrote:
Susie Crane has built the loveliest study for me, you ever saw. It is octagonal, with a peaked roof, each octagon filled with a spacious window, and it sits perched in complete isolation on top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills. It is a cosy nest, with just room in it for a sofa and a table and three or four chairs – and when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the lightning flashes above the hills beyond, and the rain beats upon the roof over my head, imagine the luxury of it! It stands 500 feet above the valley and 2 ½ miles from it.