In 1868, Jervis Langdon, father-in-law of Mark Twain, purchased a simple farmhouse and the grounds that surrounded it as a retreat for his family. Later named Quarry Farm, it was regularly modified from the time it was purchased. Originally a clapboard two-room structure, it was transformed to exemplify the Picturesque throughout its history. Each summer, the rolling porch windows (a modification made by Susan Crane, a daughter of Langdon and the owner of the house) were opened and interior Victorian furnishings were brought out to the porch. The design and size of the porch changed several times before taking its current form, and became the family’s place for relaxation and socialization. The extensively furnished porch was not only the place where the family socialized but it was also the point where visitors arrived and departed, at first along the winding road (still slightly visible) directly in front of the porch and later via the side of the house where the driveway circled from Crane Road and intersected at the east end of the porch.
In 1925, the east addition which featured the new library, a stairway and fireplaces on the first and second floors on the east side of the house, was designed and built in the Tudor Revival style to reflect a popular trend of the 1920’s – and to maintain the relevancy that was always important to the Langdons. Jervis and Eleanor Sayles Langdon, who inherited the house in 1925 following the death of Susan Crane, built the addition to give the house their own “touch” and relevancy. Susan Crane had previously resurfaced the exterior of the house with stucco around 1920, which made it very easy to tie in the Tudor library addition. Old Hickory furniture, made in Indiana and sold to US Presidents, Adirondack camps, resorts, National Park Lodges and homes across America, had become popular beginning around 1899 when the company incorporated. It is likely that if Susan Crane had not purchased some Old Hickory furniture before this time, then the Langdons may have purchased some of this furniture for their 1925 porch. To maintain the period of appropriateness for this exterior space that was, and had been, so dear to the Clemenses, Cranes and the Langdons, we determined that Old Hickory furniture from the 1920’s would be an appropriate style of furniture for the porch, and therefore the “new” furniture which is now gracing the front of Quarry Farm, are original pieces of Old Hickory furniture from the 1920’s. Their comfort is tremendous and appearance is so appealing that it makes you want to come “sit a spell”.
The furnishings of the south porch were selected to capture the look and feel of the property in 1925, an era that corresponds to historic photographs of the house as occupied by the extended Langdon family. The 1920’s was a period during which alterations were made to the house, such as the modification of the second-floor center gable as a sleeping porch centering over the front veranda. The decision to use porch furniture from this era acknowledges that part of the significance of the house transcends a single moment in time and relates to Mark Twain’s extended family and the house as it evolved from one generation of Langdons to the next.
Using furnishings from a later era that contribute to and are cohesive with the exterior character of Quarry Farm enable visiting scholars to experience the historic feel and unspoiled setting of the grounds and the 1925 alterations that maintain the view Twain so enjoyed. Stepping inside the house transports the visitor further through history to encounter a setting which includes Victorian aspects of Twain’s time within the house. The exterior would then provide a source of written stories and unwritten human and natural lore, celebrating the significance and evolution of the structure while maintaining the paramount importance of Mark Twain.