The Mark Twain House has purchased the Charles Boardman Smith House at 66 Forest St. in Hartford (above) for the expansion of its administrative offices.

Mark Twain was once quoted as saying, “I am a Connecticut Yankee by adoption.” It seems that the Twain legacy remains in Connecticut, and the Mark Twain House has adopted a new home in Hartford.

With the popularity of the Mark Twain House at 351 Farmington Ave. continuing to rise after some high-profile exposure, the operations of the museum are expanding to a home in the same neighborhood.

Benjamin Terry and Michael Stone of the CB Richard Ellis-N.E. Partners office in Hartford recently completed the sale of 66 Forest St. Previously owned by the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society, the building was sold to the Mark Twain House for $399,000.

The Mark Twain House purchased 66 Forest St. for the expansion of its administrative offices.

CB Richard Ellis-N.E. Partners is a joint venture of CB Richard Ellis and Whittier Partners Group with offices in Hartford and New Haven, as well as Maine, New Hampshire, Boston and Providence, R.I. Terry said that working there doesn’t always give him the opportunity to work with properties such as 66 Forest St.

“I love getting involved in stuff like this. It goes beyond the normal office real estate lease work that I do,” he said. “It’s nice to be helping the community at large, and making sure the culture of Hartford is retained.”

“This is a very interesting property,” said Terry. “This thing goes way back to the 1860s, where it was part of the original Nook Farm that Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in, and Mark Twain lived down the street. They were all on the same block, on the same street.”

The home at 66 Forest St. is known as the Charles Boardman Smith House, and is included under the umbrella of Nook Farm, the Hartford neighborhood that housed Twain and Beecher Stowe.

Smith was a principal at Smith Worthington and Co., a saddle manufacturer founded in 1794. The firm, which is still in the saddle business, is believed to be the oldest manufacturing firm in the United States.

Richard Upjohn, a famed New England architect who designed the State Capitol, was the designer of the Charles Boardman Smith House. It was built in 1875 and contains many of the same design elements as the Capitol building.

‘Charm Factor’

The Boardman Smith House was passed down through a succession of owners until it eventually ended up in the hands of the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society.

“The past owner, the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society, decided to put the house on the market, and the Mark Twain House was the winning buyer,” said Terry. The society came to CB Richard Ellis last August with a marketing plan, and had been working to sell the home ever since. “They’re like brethren, the buyer and seller,” said Terry. “The Antiquarian and Landmarks Society will find other office space in Hartford because that’s the focal point of their activities.”

He noted that because of a documentary on public television produced by Ken Burns, the Mark Twain House has exploded in popularity and visitor traffic is increasing steadily.

“The original mansion that Twain designed and lived in has become overcrowded with museum rooms, display pieces and administrative offices. The decision was made to acquire a new space and move the administrative functions out of the mansion and down the street.”

The Boardman Smith House is roughly four houses away from the Mark Twain House. The home is also directly across the street from the new visitor center that the Mark Twain House is constructing.

“This is going to be a multimillion-dollar modern museum with all the bells and whistles,” said Terry.

When a house such as the one at 66 Forest St. comes on the market, it isn’t always easy to determine its value.

“It can be rather difficult to appraise an antique home,” said Bob Moore, associate member of the Appraisal Institute and appraisal operations manager at Mortgage Lenders Network.

“The most effective way of finding the value of a home is to find similar properties in close proximity that have sold recently and comparing feature by feature and adjusting the differences,” said Moore. He explained that because antique homes are typically one-of-a-kind properties, however, it is difficult to make comparisons.

There is also a “charm factor” that needs to be considered.

“There are intangible factors that can contribute to value. It if can be proven by historic record that someone famous lived in the home it may increase the value, but it’s hard to go about proving how much the value will increase,” said Terry.

Modernization and renovations to the interior of the home can also sway the value. “If a house has been added to and restored over the years it may even be modernized to the point where it’s almost like a current stick-built house,” said Moore. “There is a point at which the home becomes too modern for antique buyers, and the house loses its charm.”

One area that is common is renovations to ceilings. Ceiling heights were typically lower in antique houses because, as Moore said, people were shorter back then. Flooring is also an issue because an antique house commonly had wide plank flooring. Most current flooring uses narrow wood planks.

“The new floors may not have the charm of the old floors, even though the old ones may be warped or not exactly level,” said Moore.

Appraising such a house takes more time than it would for a newer property, said Moore, who added that more hours are spent inside the house and inside Town Hall researching the various additions and owners.

“You also spend more time doing market research to find comparison sales. There are a finite number of these houses and there are far fewer of them than currently built homes. You may have to go out of town to find comparable sales,” said Moore.

And although an antique house ultimately may not be worth more than a new home, it all depends on the buyer.

“The antique market has a more limited marketability,” said Moore. “The number of people a house like this will appeal to is far fewer than a more modern home, but there is a certain market for homes like this and people will pay a premium for it.”