The Gibson House (aka: The Mark Twain Manor)
Posted by: Algoma!
N 41° 29.082 W 080° 26.370
17T E 546791 N 4592718
Quick Description: An historic location, full of Victorian style and hauntings! Comes complete with a carriage house in the back. Through the years, it has housed restaurants and bars and even a public library!
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 4/6/2008 5:17:26 PM
Waymark Code: WM3H9P
From the Gibson House Website:
Gibson House History
1856 Retracing this house's entire history from it's birth to now is an ongoing effort. Dr. William Gibson, a physician, entrepreneur and world traveler, built his Italianate-Victorian style residential mansion in 1856. Thus today's reference to it as 'the Gibson House'. Dr. Gibson was instrumental in establishing the Pittsburgh Lake Erie Railroad in Jamestown PA. He founded Jamestown Banking company in 1874, secured Jamestown Seminary charter of 1858 and built a business block across the street where the buildings once housed his Mica Plant and an Opera House
The Tuscan Villa is easily recognized by the box-like appearance, the flat roof with it's central Tower or Belvedere and the open porches called Loggias. The porch has since been enclosed and is now referred to as the restaurant's Black & White Dining Room due to the black and white design. It is bright and open, with wall to wall windows creating an airy feel which gives many patrons their favorite seating area.
The Gibson House, like other Tuscan examples, is bright with decorated exterior columns of the classical order, dental moldings, bay windows and ornate brackets carved with the Acanthus Leaf or the Rinceau (a scroll design cut into the wood or stone). The high quality wood inlay flooring is rarely seen in houses today. There is said to be over 80 individual hand carved pieces of wood contained in each 3 square foot section of the parquet design. The woodwork is impressive with oak being responsible for the name of the Oak Room Dining Room. On first glance you would never guess that the wood trim around the windows are actually built-in shutters which unfold to allow for privacy.
Most spectacular is the central staircase which circles up four levels from the main floor to the Belvedere. This was a 'light and air well' and was designed for the healthful circulation of airflow. Opening the windows at the top of the house allows warmer air to escape helping to keep the entire building a cooler and more comfortable temperature during hot summer days. The sturdiness of the banisters on the way up is surprising given the age of this house. It feels as solid as if the stairway were built yesterday. The craftsmanship of that era is very impressive
The restaurant derives its name from the friendship forged between Dr. Gibson and the famous author Mark Twain. The two gentlemen met on a trip abroad. Mr. Twain makes reference to 'the doctor' in his novel, 'Innocents Abroad'. Hence the creation of the restaurant's name, The Mark Twain Manor. It is said that Mrs. Gibson was not impressed with some inappropriate manners shown by Mr. Twain as their house guest. She was appalled at his choice of wardrobe when attending breakfast in his pajamas and promptly sent him back up to his room to change into more appropriate attire.
According to Dr. Gibson, he was appointed to collect and bring back rare plant specimens when abroad by the Smithsonian Institute directors. The Gingko Tree that he is accused of smuggling from China still grows in the yard today
What happened to his rare coin collection of 285 ancient coins dating back to 650 B.C. is still a mystery
Another interest of this house is the hidden room between the first and second floors. This room has been verified as one of the few authentic 'secret' rooms in existence today. Tradition says it was used for the Underground Railroad protecting slaves from discovery .Allegedly the belvedere was used to send lantern light signals to persons assisting these slaves. Tunnels ran from the basement to the Carriage House at the rear of the property to the Shenango River. Chains fastened to the cellar foundation are thought to have been used to restrain unruly fugitives. If only the walls could talk they would surely tell of a most unique individual, Dr. Gibson
There are many tales of ghosts who haunt these rooms. One being of a woman named Victoria. She was to be married in the Gibson House but on her way a horrible storm ensued. Thunder spooked her horses overturning the carriage she traveled in. She died that day never making it to her planned wedding. It is said that during stormy nights, strange things happen in the Gibson House. And the tale is that smelling the scent of lavender is a sign that she is still present here in the house
Tours Available?: Yes
Year Built: 1856
Web Address: http://www.marktwainmanorrestaurant.com/pages/history.html
An original photo is necessary to log a visit in this category. No GPS in photos, please.