Second Year Creative Writing Contest Focuses on Quarry Farm Fireplace

The Center for Mark Twain Studies is again sponsoring a creative writing contest for area students in grades 2-6, encouraging students to explore Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira and the Southern Tier.  Submissions for the competition are due by April 19.

One of the winners of last year’s contest reading her story to her classmates in the exact same spot Mark Twain told stories to his daughters.

While staying at Quarry Farm, Mark Twain often encouraged his children to create and tell their own stories based off the tiles adorning the parlor fireplace.   The 24 tiles around the fireplace depict fables written by ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, who utilized animals, such as crows, snakes, mice, and foxes, to illustrate moral lessons.

Students from schools within a 25-mile radius of Quarry Farm are encouraged to access the fireplace tiles on the CMTS website, marktwainstudies.org, and create their own stories based on the tile images.

Three winners from three different schools will be chosen by CMTS staff.  CMTS has received special permission to give the winners a personal tour inside Quarry Farm, normally only open to Twain Scholars.  The winning students will be able to read their story next to the Quarry Farm parlor fireplace, tour Quarry Farm, and enjoy Mark Twain’s favorite dessert: gingerbread, vanilla ice cream, and lemonade.

Submissions for the contest should be submitted by Friday, April 19, to the Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College, 1 Park Place, Elmira, NY 14901.  Additional information, including a virtual tour of Quarry Farm, can be found online at marktwainstudies.org.

All the contest information and high-resolution pictures of the Quarry Farm fireplace tiles can be found at MarkTwainStudies.org.

About the Center for Mark Twain Studies –The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies was founded in January 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College by Jervis Langdon, the great-grand-nephew of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Center offers distinctive programs to foster and support Mark Twain scholarship and to strengthen the teaching of Mark Twain at all academic levels. The Center serves the Elmira College community and regional, national, and international students and scholars of Mark Twain. –

Quarry Farm Fireplace Writing Contest Gives Local Students A Chance To Visit Mark Twain’s Living Room

Tessa Baker, from Finn Academy in Elmira, reads her contest winning story.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, The Center for Mark Twain Studies sponsored a creative writing contest for area students in grades 2-6, encouraging students to explore Mark Twain’s legacy and the importance of the Langdon family in Elmira and the Twin Tiers.

While staying at Quarry Farm, Mark Twain encouraged his children to create and tell their own stories based off the tiles adorning the parlor fireplace. The 24 tiles around the fireplace depict fables written by ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, who utilized animals, such as crows, snakes, mice, and foxes, to illustrate moral lessons.

Students from schools within a 25-mile radius of Quarry Farm were encouraged to access the fireplace tiles on the CMTS website, MarkTwainStudies.org, and create their own stories based on the tile images.

Four area students were selected for their creative writings: Tessa Baker, Finn Academy; Alexa Fairbanks, Fassett Elementary; Mayla Falank, Cohen Elementary; and Alana Heath, Hendy Elementary.

The winning students and their classmates received a personal tour inside Quarry Farm, open only to Twain Scholars. They were able to read their story next to the Quarry Farm parlor fireplace, tour the main floor and grounds, and enjoy Mark Twain’s favorite dessert: gingerbread, vanilla ice cream, and lemonade.

Mayla Falank, from Cohen Elementary in Elmira Heights, points to the tile that inspired her story.

While Quarry Farm will never be a roadside museum,  we very much want it to be part of the Elmira legacy. We are quite aware that Mark Twain is a cornerstone of the historical and cultural narrative of Elmira and the Southern Tier.

The staff of CMTS facilitates dozens of school field trips every year, taking students to visit the Mark Twain Study on the Elmira College campus, the grounds and barn at Quarry Farm, and the family gravesite at Woodlawn National Cemetery. However, access to the main house is a rare treat.

We want these students to be proud that they grow up in Elmira, to learn how important the Langdon family was to Mark Twain, and how important Twain is to U.S. history and culture. We hope that this contest helps them see that Twain’s history and the Langdon’s history is their history as well.

For teachers interested in bringing the life of Mark Twain and his literature into their classrooms, CMTS strongly encourages you to explore our internet resources dedicated to teachers.

For coverage about this story from the Elmira Star Gazette, click here.

Finn Academy, Elmira, New York

Cohen Elementary, Elmira Heights, New York

Fassett Elementary, Elmira, New York

Hendy Avenue Elementary, Elmira, New York