14 Famous Man Rooms

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 27, 2010 · 105 comments

in Manly Knowledge, Travel & Leisure

In reading about the lives of history’s great men, one thing I’ve noticed is that many of them had a place they could go to be alone with their thoughts. Some of these men had a study where they would retreat to think, read, and write. Others had a garage or workshop where they would tinker and experiment. But what all these rooms had in common was their sheer manliness. They were man spaces, places a man could call his own.

Below we give you a look inside the man rooms of 14 famous men from history. Within these rooms they formulated ideas that would change the world, wrote books that remain classics, and revitalized the dynamic manliness that drove their success. While we all can’t have a Carnegie-esque study, perhaps you’ll find inspiration from these manly spaces to spruce up your own room or simply the push to find a place where you can get away from it all and in tune with your manliness.

Ernest Hemingway’s Writing Studio

The room where Papa wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and Death in the Afternoon. Ernest Hemingway lived in this house in Key West, Florida for more than 10 years. Needing a place where he could drink a glass of scotch, smoke a cigar, and write about men being men, Hemingway turned the old carriage house on the property into his personal writing studio. The main features in the room are the Cuban cigar-maker’s chair and his Royal typewriter. Throughout the room, Hemingway placed mementos he collected from his manly adventures in Africa and Cuba.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Trophy Room

After Theodore Roosevelt’s Dakota cattle business failed, he came back East to New York and built a home in Oyster Bay, NY. He called his estate Sagamore Hill, and he lived there until he died (with a stint in the White House, of course). It was where Roosevelt would go to relax, romp in the woods, and revitalize his man spirit. The crowning manly jewel of the house was TR’s trophy room where he kept his collection of wild game he had hunted in Africa and throughout the American West. The room has a high ceiling and is filled with rich, dark Philippine camagon woodwork. A perfect place for the manliest president to read a book about adventure in the grasslands or to entertain guests and dignitaries.

Frederick Douglass’ Office

Frederick Douglass was a true self-made man. He escaped from slavery and through hard work and self-education, became a writer, publisher, speaker and fierce abolitionist. With the money he made from writing and speaking, Douglass bought a 14 bedroom house in Washington, D.C. that he called Cedar Hill. His office was lined with over 1,000 books on a wide variety of subjects, and his walls were adorned with portraits of people he admired like Susan B. Anthony and Wendell Phillips. Douglas would spend up to five hours a day reading and writing in his manly study. At his sturdy wooden desk he penned many of his inspiring speeches and his famous autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

Thomas Jefferson’s Study

The author of the Declaration of Independence also was a master architect. Jefferson designed the home that crowned his beautiful Monticello estate. Jefferson’s man space was his study where he’d read about, write about, and ponder liberty and other profound principles in solitude. The busts of great men served as muses for Jefferson. One of the unique aspects of Jefferson’s man space is how it’s connected to his bedroom. He placed his bed in an alcove in the wall between his study and room. That way Jefferson could roll right out of bed and start working or if he needed to take a power nap after hours of manly meditation and study, he could lie down for a respite.

Mark Twain’s Writing Hut

Mark Twain would often summer with his sister who lived in Elmira, New York. Needing a place where he could get some work done, Twain built himself a writing hut on his sister’s property. Free from distractions and inspired by the setting, Twain could write in peace and quiet. In this sanctuary of manliness, Twain wrote some of his most widely read and manly works: Life on the Mississippi, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I love how Twain described his man space in an 1874 letter to William Dean Howells:

“It is the loveliest study you ever saw…octagonal with a peaked roof, each face filled with a spacious window…perched in complete isolation on the top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills. It is a cozy nest and just room in it for a sofa, table, and three or four chairs, and when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the lightning flashes behind the hills beyond and the rain beats upon the roof over my head—imagine the luxury of it.”

Henry David Thoreau’s Cabin

Tired of the distractions of modern living, Henry David Thoreau went to the woods to live a deliberate and simple life. He borrowed some land near a pond called Walden from friend Ralph Waldo Emerson and built himself a simple 10′x15′ shack. The inside was furnished with a bed, a table, a desk, and three chairs. That’s it. Total cost to build his man shack? $28.12. It was in this small hut in the woods that Thoreau would get the inspiration he needed to write his most famous work of Transcendental Philosophy, Walden, Or Life in the Woods. Thoreau’s rustic man-hut has inspired men for generations to tear out into the woods, build a shack with their own bare man hands, and start sucking the marrow out of life.

Thomas Edison’s Library

Many people argue that Thomas Edison’s greatest contribution to science and technology was his Invention Factory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. This series of brick buildings was the first industrial research and development laboratory and is the model for today’s corporate and government R&D labs. Nestled in the complex was Edison’s personal library. The focal point of the room is the roll top desk that Edison likely used to design cool stuff like the phonograph or Kinetoscope. Edison knew how to hustle and would often work for 24 hours (or more!)  straight. He’d take catnaps in a cot that he set up in his library to recharge himself for more work.

John Muir’s Study

When John Muir wasn’t wandering through Yosemite and pondering the awe-inspiring power of nature, he lived with his wife in a 14-room mansion in Martinez, California that had been built in 1883 by his father-in-law. The Muirs occupied that home from 1890 until John’s death in 1914. This was the most fruitful time of Muir’s career, and much of his productivity took place within the walls of his study, which he called his “scribble den.” Seated at his simple wooden desk, Muir laid much of the foundation for the modern conservation movement, penning hundreds of passionate magazine and newspaper articles and writing books on the importance of preserving nature, mulling over how to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley from being dammed, pushing for the creation of National Parks and a Park Service, and taking care of work for his job as the first president of the Sierra Club.

Winston Churchill’s Art Studio

In addition to being a first-class statesman, Winston Churchill was a talented artist as well. The man loved to paint. He loved it so much that he built himself an art studio in his estate’s garden. When he felt the “Black Dog” of depression tailing him, he would retreat to his studio and keep the darkness away by putting brush to canvas.

Mark Twain’s Billiards Room

Mark Twain is so manly that two of his man rooms made the list. This billiards room took up the entire top floor of his three-story Hartford, CT house where he lived from 1871-1891. The room was off limits to Twain’s wife and kids and reserved for Twain and his male guests to shoot pool, smoke cigars, and imbibe spirits. Twain also used the room as a man retreat, a place to write and hide from the domestic chaos on the other floors of the house. Twain explained the reason this special man space was needed in his home:

“There ought to be a room in this house to swear in. It’s dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that…Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”

The Wright Brothers’ Bicycle Shop

The garage or workshop is a favorite place for men to retreat to, drink a beer, and tinker on their car. The Wright brothers spent hours together in their bike shop fixing bikes and creating the first successful flying machine. Their shop actually changed locations several times, but what stayed the same was the industrial utility of the room and the solitude it offered them to ponder how to get man into the air.

Charles Darwin’s Study

Located in rural Kent, England, Charles Darwin’s Down House is where the famous scientist lived and worked for over 40 years. Inside the home, Darwin had a private study where he would write in solitude. Darwin was a morning person and felt he did his best work between the hours of 8 AM and 9:30 AM. It was in this room that Darwin wrote his landmark work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Darwin lined his shelves not only with books but also with animal specimens he found while taking walks in the afternoons. I’m totally digging that spiral cane and bowler hat placed on the chair in the first picture.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Drafting Studio

Frank Lloyd Wright lived at his Oak Park, IL residence from 1889 until 1909. During these first two decades of his career, Wright developed his architectural practice and style, brainstorming ideas and drafting plans within the handsome home studio he designed himself. Under the octagonal hanging lights, Wright and his associates developed the Prairie style of architecture and designed 125 structures. The magnificent studio is certainly a worthy workplace for such a revered architect; a fellow architect said it offered “inspiration everywhere.”

Andrew Carnegie’s Study

Steele magnate Andrew Carnegie used some of his vast millions to build a 64-room mansion located on 5th Ave near Central Park in New York City. Among its 64 rooms were Carnegie’s private library and study where he would spend his mornings either alone or with his personal secretary. He used his library to receive applicants seeking a piece of his philanthropic treasure chest and his study to determine which ones would get funds. The rooms were decked out in typical Gilded Age furnishings- dark hand-carved wood, plush furniture, and decorative ceilings. Along the walls of both rooms were stenciled Carnegie’s favorite inspirational sayings like “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” It’s pretty amazing what sort of man room you can build when you’re the richest guy in the world.

John Muir’s Study

{ 105 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pat July 27, 2010 at 11:44 pm

I feel like George Eastman’s conservatory should have made it, but then again his whole house was kind of a man space. http://bit.ly/96OOq3

2 Joe Proctor July 28, 2010 at 12:57 am

I like this article and this site.
However the use of the word man (or bro) as a prefix is very annoying.
Man space
man cave
man love
man whatever

It’s very lame, and it needs to be stopped.

3 Emmanuel Grant July 28, 2010 at 1:01 am

cool story!!! makes me want to have my own man room… thx for the great post!!!

4 Brett McKay July 28, 2010 at 1:13 am

Other things that are lame and need to be stopped: getting hung up on things like the use of the word man.

When there are things that cannot be described using existing language, then new language is invented to fill the void. What else to call these rooms? “Rooms” alone is non-descriptive and vague. Manly rooms doesn’t adequately cover it-that could describe a room that simply had manly qualities but was used by both genders. Rooms-used-only-by-a-man would be a mouthful and still not get to the heart of it. These are special things-so we’ll use a special term to describe them. I’m afraid you’ll just have to avert your eyes.

5 Dan the Man July 28, 2010 at 1:55 am

Awesome post Brett! One of my all time AoM favorites.

And great comment-”man rooms” is most fitting and appropriate.

6 Jonathan Brook July 28, 2010 at 2:47 am

Brett,

I have been a member of the Art of Manliness for a while now and I have to say it goes from strength to strength. I must commend you on your articles over the past few months. This article was awesome!!! Every MAN needs a MAN space (sorry Joe Proctor, but this sight is about MANliness so the over use of the word MAN should be excused). Whether it is a shed, a study or just a spot where we can relax and watch the football in peace.

I also want to thank you Brett for putting me on to The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt.

Cheers.

7 Mungo July 28, 2010 at 6:02 am

15. Rudyard Kipling’s library at Bateman’s, East Sussex, England.

A library, study and writing room, liberally scattered with trinkets, tropheys and weapons from around the world. Well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

http://inlinethumb03.webshots.com/42178/2476192160101365693S600x600Q85.jpg

8 Jesse July 28, 2010 at 7:46 am

Agreed. Excellent list and naysayers be damned. The additional recommendations are awesome as well. Kipling definitely deserves to be on there.

9 Mike Kenny July 28, 2010 at 7:58 am

Interesting piece and much worth commenting on. Myself, I’ll leave any ‘manliy’ debate to the punters as the irrepressable smart-ass in me has only one observation to make; Twain couldn’t play worth shit. Bonus points if you can tell me why. Here’s a hint; leave the cue ball tight to the left rail.

10 Tyler July 28, 2010 at 9:24 am

WHAT?!?!? No Elvis’ downstairs basement? The TCB Electric Yellow/Black Man Room was home to the one of our Greatest contributors to our country’s culture. Kind of makes you wonder how many fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches were put away down there!

11 Rob July 28, 2010 at 9:34 am

Great article!
My father is just getting finished with his Magum Opus, The Garage in his backyard. He’s a sports car racer in his spare time and the whole family has built it over the last year and a half. It’s 2 stories of apocalypse-resistant manliness bolted into the California dirt. 18 inch thick 1100 sq.ft. concrete slab poured by me and my brother, full bathroom, HVAC for the car lift, full garage door, media center, and a door for the dog. It’s taken him about 2 years to make while running the family business, mostly just waiting for the permits. He plans on using it to spec up the 240Z Datsun to get the lap records in SCCA E class for the local tracks. My mother let him do this on the condition that he put in another bathroom and a den in the house proper (only 1 story, unlike the garage). She won’t go near the thing.
This, my friends, is not a man cave, its a man cavern.

-Rob

12 Ben Cave July 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

An excellent and fascinating article. I will be buying a house in the next year with my fiancee, luckily for me, she already knows the utmost importance it is for me to have my own room (apart from the typical garage/workshop, which also has its own importance in a similar vein). I look forward to being able to adorn my own man room with “artifacts” of my, my father’s, and my grandfather’s lives.

13 Hugo Stiglitz July 28, 2010 at 10:51 am

It would be interesting to see the rooms of some readers of this site or some other prominent living men. I like getting a balance of old and modern lessons and examples of manliness. I love this site, but sometimes I get a little “Teddy Roosevelted” out.

14 Bryan July 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

You might extend this to the realm of the fictional, as well. While some might prefer the Batcave, surely the best man room ever is Professor Higgins’ library from the film ‘My Fair Lady’.

15 gst July 28, 2010 at 11:59 am

WFB’s converted garage office was pretty awesome.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2350/2300044686_aa2290a2f3.jpg

16 JC July 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Perhaps, in an evolved state of manliness, you should give a nod to Virginia Woolf and her essay “A Room of One’s Own.” Any (wo)man needs a space to retreat and be alone with their thoughts as a foundation to greater endeavors. Growing up, my Dad had a separate study. My mom had a small built in desk in the kitchen. If anything, “woman space” is a much more rare commodity than a “man space.”

17 Sam July 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Where’s Sherlock Holmes’ office? Is it because he didn’t really exist? Pssssh, you can still visit 221B Baker St. in London. Check out the Jeremy Brett episodes and tell me you don’t want to ponder there.

18 Pat July 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I feel like the Oval Office is a pretty darn manly place. Just imagine the men who have gathered and the decisions that have been made there alone. The fate of the world as we know it has been molded from that very office.

19 Roger July 28, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Very cool article, but I second Joe Proctor’s sentiment. Using “man” or “bro” as a prefix to anything is like wearing parachute pants to a party. Very uncool.

20 Mike July 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I agree with the comment about including modern rooms too. What does Bill Gates man room look like?

21 JAMES LEWIS stdtesting July 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I love Twain’s concept with the writing hut. I had always dreamed of a home with a similar tower, having a room with a panoramic view built as my sleeping quarters.

-James

22 Nate @ Practical Manliness July 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm

This is one of your best articles yet!

I’ve been reading this site almost continuously since just after you started (I think), and this is quite possibly my favorite article yet!

Stumbled, tweeted and shared on Facebook!

23 CoffeeZombie July 28, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I’ve got to admit, I kind of feel the same way as Joe Proctor. I just can’t use terms like “man cave” without feeling a bit silly. In addition, we do have historical terms for what we’re talking about. A space for the man of the house to go for solitude and privacy has had numerous names through the years and cultures, the cabinet, the study, the oratory, the solar, the closet, and so on. And in response to JC’s comment on women having their own spaces, that was originally the role of the boudoir or, in Arabic terms, the harem (which, incidentally, was literally the part of the building that was ‘haram’, or “forbidden”, for the men, where the women–not just wives and concubines, but daughters, granddaughters, women servants, and so on–lived).

At the same time, the male terms are rather generic today, so I can see why there might be a desire to specifically dedicate a particular room as a “man room.”

For me, I have my office, which, sadly, tends to be where junk accumulates, which means it’s in a constant state of “being cleaned,” and then there’s the front porch. The front porch isn’t really a private place (rather, it’s perhaps the most public part of a house), but it’s one of my favorite places to go to relax (usually with a drink in hand).

24 Sean July 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I would add Roald Dahl’s writing hut to this list.

http://www.roalddahlmuseum.org/discoverdahl/exploring/default.aspx

25 Happy Matrix July 28, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I like the writing studio (looks like a front room) and the study that looks like a library

26 Darrin July 28, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Stellar post. I’m unbelievably jealous just looking at all these pics. Gives me more of an impetus to build a man cave of my own as soon as I’m not living in cramped 1br apartments anymore! I’ll keep this bookmarked in the meantime.

27 KA July 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm

These are all fine choices and have immense historical value, but when it comes to the man caves of today; the library of Jay Walker (founder of Priceline.com) is number 1 in my book:

http://www.impactlab.com/2008/10/10/the-amazing-jay-walker-library/

28 Sofia July 28, 2010 at 4:53 pm
29 Liam Dille July 28, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Roald Dahl’s writing hut is a good one.
http://www.roalddahlmuseum.org/discoverdahl/exploring/default.aspx

30 Dooschko July 28, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Great post, thoroughly enjoyed ıt.

31 Kevin July 28, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I build a personal space about 7 yrs ago, and would say it was one of the most important projects I’ve set out to acheive. Not only for the space to relax in, but for the sense of accomplishment in designing and building it.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_DXtuiXsttz8/TDX_I3PqgaI/AAAAAAAAAck/q_Ynd1cMV98/s1600/Zi6_9086.JPG

32 G. Tripping July 28, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Excellent suggestion, JC, lest we forget, in all our harrumphing, that masculinity is a construct. Nothing about leather chairs, mounted animal heads, tinkering, solitude, or creative genius is inherently male, and, while I would be hard pressed to deny to greatness–albeit just another loaded term–of these men and their accomplishments (except Hemingway, but that’s a matter of personal taste), one must seriously question whether man caves or, indeed, manhood (ahem) contributed much. Aside from male privilege, that is.

33 Allison Jeffries July 28, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Wow, I just wandered over here from a link site and I must say, great article. Great comments too, actually. So apparently this is where the intelligent men on the internet are hiding.

And I must agree with JC; as a woman, I’d love any one of these rooms as my own (wo)man cave, especially Twain’s hut and Darwin’s Down House. I can’t speak for the rest of woman-kind, but I often need to shrug off the worst of my day in my own space.

34 Treathyl FOX July 28, 2010 at 8:55 pm

It probably doesn’t qualify as a room, but I was thinking of the Garden of Gethsemane.
REF: http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Gethsemane_olive_tree_tb_n051601.jpg

35 Matt S. July 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm

This is a great article. It’s true, every man needs a personal space to call his own. Seeing the picture or the Wright brother’s shop reminded me of a time several years ago. I was visiting family in Oklahoma City and was with my uncle at one of his friend’s places, his friend, who’s name I can’t remember, was quite wealthy and had a large collection of antique automobiles and bicycles. He was showing me some of the bikes and there was one in particular that stuck out, obviously old but in remarkably good condition, but with no visible markings. I asked him about it and he said, ” Oh, that’s a Wright brother’s bike.” I asked him if he was serious, and he said, “Yes, absolutely.” It was a very cool moment. Holding a piece of history like that.

36 KH July 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I think the “Gun Room” at Sagamore Hill is more the man cave than the “North Room” you cite. That’s TR’s space whereas the North Room is a more public space — not a real man cave.

37 Martin July 28, 2010 at 11:53 pm

A man space. I must have one.

38 Casey July 29, 2010 at 12:51 am

Roger Ebert’s office is a not-too-shabby example of a modern man-room: http://www.esquire.com/cm/esquire/images/DT/esq-ebert-in-library-0310-lg.jpg

39 Dan July 29, 2010 at 3:07 am

I really like that Twain Mountain Hut.
But I was also expecting Elvis’ jungle room or any Elvis room!

40 nate July 29, 2010 at 6:51 am

Re: the “man” prefix, I’d generally agree (prefer den to man room), but how else to convey the intended meaning?

41 terko July 29, 2010 at 8:25 am

Nice caves
I wish I lived in one of these also !!! )

42 Joe July 29, 2010 at 10:41 am

You forgot The Batcave and The Fortress of Solitude.

43 Timothy July 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I would add George Vanderbilt’s library and office at The Biltmore House. I had the opportunity to tour the mansion a couple years ago on a special private tour, and was granted access to George’s office which is closed to tourists. It is located just off the grand library, with windows to overlook his domain, but is currently sparse with bare shelves.

http://galen-frysinger.org/us/biltmore02.jpg

44 Nancy Pernas July 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I like how this shows that a lot of the people who have succeeded in life have had their own space. A place where they can just think or do whatever they want. People need that now a days when life gets to busy and everything is, “What’s going to happen next? You need a place where you can just be.

45 Tim July 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

In high school, my history teacher invited our entire class to his house in the woods our senior year. He had a remarkable den – complete with a stuffed bear, and the gun with which he shot it mounted to its left. I remember commenting on the room, and he went over and pulled a book off the bookshelf. It was a first edition of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” – not behind glass or framed or mounted, just sitting on his shelf with a million histories and biographies. He handed it to me, tapped his finger on the cover, and said “books like this get written because rooms like this get built.”

My addition to the list (aside from my history teacher’s) is Burnham and Root’s office on the top floor of the Rookery Building in Chicago. They conducted meetings and planned the 1893 Columbian Exhibition, breaking to view turn-of-the-century Chicago from the best view in town, in the building they built. The Rookery is still there, and they have tours (and a Brooks Brothers) if you’re ever in the Windy City with some time on your hands.

46 Sir Lancelot July 29, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I’m neither a lion or a troglodyte, so no den or cave for me, thank you.

47 Keith July 29, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I went over to help a client with his stereo wiring one night and found that he had a barber chair in his basement and was just finishing up cutting a friend’s young son’s hair. There were a couple of other guys there and it was like a miniature of the movie Barbershop. He is a successful business executive, learned to cut hair in early life and just kept it up for his buddies. It was a place where they could all laugh, discuss, scratch and be guys together.

48 Dave Lewis July 29, 2010 at 5:31 pm

It looks like the Wright brothers are working in suits. Now that is class. I’d buy a bicycle – or an airplane – that was built by a guy who was wearing a coat and tie and a shop apron to keep it clean.

49 Playstead July 29, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I love this and would like to see more posts about men and their spaces. Even a post about how to create your own room/den/space.

50 Jordan July 30, 2010 at 12:22 am

@G. Tripping, I’m not sure you’ll find many on this site who will agree with your speculation that manhood hasn’t contributed much, and you offer no real facts to back up your statement. On the other hand, only men being required to sign up for the draft, boys falling far behind girls in school and dads having a much harder time getting custody of kids in divorces are all observed instances of today’s discrimination against men. And I’d say many of the technological innovations by men have contributed a lot, and men have defended the country against foreign attack in the past and present, as have women. Your opinion on manhood stands unsupported by evidence.

51 Dave July 30, 2010 at 1:17 am

Sherlock Holmes’s 221b is an easy addition to this list, even though it’s fictional.

http://www.westminsteronline.org/holmes1951/images/holmesroom.jpg

52 Joshua Hubbard July 30, 2010 at 7:21 am

I Love this post. I think with all the stress in a man’s life we all need a place to recharge.

53 Rick Sarvas July 30, 2010 at 10:17 am

Colonel Francis T. Colby’s den, currently reconstructed in the Boston Museum of Science, has always struck me as one of the ultimate Man Caves sine I first saw it in the mid 80s.

http://www.mos.org/exhibits_shows/current_exhibits&d=1274
http://www.flickr.com/photos/binkley27/3509496686/

Sorry, couldn’t find a better picture.

54 La Lydia July 30, 2010 at 10:34 am

I can’t believe they left out George Washington’s study at Mount Vernon. I love that place with its bookcases and maps and globes and other stuff related to his interest in science and agriculture, and most of all the rocking chair that fans you when you rock.

55 shirteesdotnet July 30, 2010 at 11:56 am

I read this story here a couple days ago, and now playboys new website (thesmokingjacket.com) has linked to it.

56 Sean July 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Here’s a better picture of Darwin’s study, which I took last year. Please feel free to use it. Your photo is missing the room’s key feature, which is that his armchair was on wheels and he used to roll continuously back and forth between his writing table and his dissecting / specimen table.

or:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3439/3894266425_5f03705ea2.jpg

57 smallerdemon July 30, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Neil Gaiman has a writing Gazebo. I am assuming it has it’s own heating unit since the most recent pictures he posted of it were during the winter: http://www.fromthesidewalk.com/2008/09/neil-gaimans-writing-gazebo.html

58 Jack July 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Michael Pollan of Omnivore’s Dilemma fame wrote a great book on the subject called “A Place of My Own”. It chronicles his own experience creating a writing hut in the woods by his house. He discusses different ideas and writings about creating a space for yourself that is special. It made me wish I didn’t live in New York City and I had a yard in which I could build me own hut. I highly recommend it.

http://www.amazon.com/Place-My-Own-Architecture-Daydreams/dp/0143114743/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280519498&sr=1-7

59 Gerard July 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Peter the Great’s oak study at Peterhof is a very worthwhile addition to this list. Just visited it!

60 Liz July 30, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Virginia Wolfe knew of the power of such rooms for men and women alike. Good stuff.

61 bb July 30, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I would bet none of them men mentioned in this article would use the term “Man Cave”.
The term brings to mind someone more like Jimmy Kimmel, (though he may be a very nice guy).
How about “famous men’s personal rooms”. What’s wrong with just a description, why does everything need some sort of shorthand that seems like it should have a ™ after it?

bb

62 Elizabeth July 30, 2010 at 8:13 pm

In the last years of his life William Blake and his wife lived in a two-room hut. The room in the front had a fireplace. This was where they had their beds, his collection of precious stones, the dining table, and the foodstuffs. The room in the back was empty: it was where Blake saw his visions.

63 ZMM July 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm

There’s no way Thoreau’s cabin was 5′ by 10′. That’s the size of a closet! Either that’s a different cabin entirely or you’ve got the wrong picture. The bed alone would be at least 6′ by 3′.

64 ChasMcBr July 30, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I like the Will Rogers Ranch. He was a real cowboy before becoming an actor, comedian, writer, humanitarian, etc.

Check it out: http://www.seeing-stars.com/imagepages/WillRogersParkPhoto2.shtml

65 CoffeeZombie July 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm

bb: Thank you; I think that is a great suggestion (“men’s personal rooms”).

66 Roy Pickron July 31, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Excellent write up & Awesome Pictures!

Thanks for taking the time,
Roy Pickron

67 Rico July 31, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Elvis Presley’s Jungle Room needs to be in this list.

68 Duncan August 1, 2010 at 5:16 am

Inspirational man-rooms there. I think I’ll take the best of each and make my own haunt.

69 James Salsman August 1, 2010 at 7:21 am

None of these can hold a candle to William Randolph Hearst’s “gothic study” library in his San Simeon, California castle mansion:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/4326541391/sizes/l/

That is the smaller of the mansion’s two libraries (hence it’s called the study), but by far the more ornate. Hearst reportedly favored it for his leisure reading, everyday paperwork, as well as business meetings. There are suitable meeting rooms on lower floors, but reaching the gothic study involves a short tour of some of the castle’s amenities which would always impress guests and allow for small talk on the way. All of the cabinets on the walls would lock to secure books and papers, and the furniture in the study is by far the most comfortable and inviting in the entire estate.

70 Tom August 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm

This is a great post. If not too late, I’ll second Timothy in endorsing the library at Biltmore. I plugged it on my site a while back. Extremely cool room:
http://www.rolltopmanifesto.com/2010/01/the-coolest-room-in-the-world.html
I visited the Hearst castle years ago with my family. Also cool, but also a tad creepy.

71 odessa August 2, 2010 at 12:10 am

This guy would have loved to write in Hemingway’s man cave! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3FGdjjythQ

72 Mike August 2, 2010 at 11:42 am

In the biography of Teddy Roosevelt (TR: The Last Romantic) there is a great description and accompanying photo of his room at Harvard….It had all the fixings of a great man room: a plethora of books, fireplace, and crossed sabres above the mantle. Just thought I’d chime in.

73 Turling August 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm

After having just spent seven days in Yosemite, it’s nice to return to see John Muir’s study.

74 Clare August 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Every thinking person needs “a room of one’s own” – men and women. I love the studios and libraries above and would want one for myself, too (the only aspects of the above rooms that I wouldn’t like are the dead animals hanging from some of the walls.)

75 Andrea a girl August 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I particularly like how all these man-spaces are in conjunction with reading, writing, arts, and working. Real man things. Consider this passed along.

76 Hugo Stiglitz August 3, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I would find it more inspiring to see rooms created by the “Average Joe” reader of this site. We get the point by now — many of these rich, famous (and dead) men could afford the trappings of such lavish rooms. But it is more manly to take action and create your own room rather than lust after someone else’s. Thanks to Kevin for posting what HE accomplished with his own hands. Admiring the room of a great man is one thing, but some people on here are like teenage girls at a Jonas Brothers concert, completely giddy with posting pictures of other guys’ rooms. What does it really say about YOU to tell someone “I like so-and-so’s room,” “look at these pictures of so-and-so’s room,” etc. Yes, these were all great men, but mortal like us all.

77 Chris August 4, 2010 at 1:35 am

Props to Mr. McKay on this great collection, makes me wish I had more money to put into renovating my house!

To all the detractors… go ahead and leave the artofmanliness.com to create a blog dedicated to the “art of fair and balanced gender-neutral… ness,” where you can refrain from praising anything that has the word “man.” Perhaps you’d prefer the term, “penised-American?” We won’t even notice you’re gone.

78 Matt Lawrence August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

Totally inspirational, I feel a great desire, like all those who posted before me to start mine today. When I was growing up, I was always inspired by the rooms of my friends fathers. I knew work was being done there. Where we do the work is as important as the work we do, as the men in “Man Rooms” know.

79 Allyssa August 10, 2010 at 1:08 am

How about the spaces of the most renowned musicians of history?

80 MP August 10, 2010 at 3:00 am

Well written article that has inspired me two-fold. First by the amazing rooms shown and then by the accomplishments these men these men achieved when they put their heads down and got to work. Anything is possible friends.

81 Andrew B August 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I second the view that TR’s Gun Room should have been listed. It boasts a rifle with a Maxim silencer on it, for crying out loud! Silent death from the upper windows. How much more manly can you get?

As for some of the others…I don’t know. My great-grandfather’s study was more manly than many shown above. In his inner sanctum, every square inch was devoted either to books of Old Testament theology, guns, golf clubs or dry fly tackle. Now THAT was a man!

82 cdunnrun August 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Oh come on! How can you include Thomas Jefferson’s room, but not mention its most mancave-ly feature?!

The alcove that he built for his bedroom extends to the top of the room, its sort of a divider between his writing area shown in the picture and his dressing area. On the other side of the alcove, in his dressing area, is a door leading to a completely enclosed area ABOVE his bed, long speculated to be where he and his mistress would meet for trysts.

THAT is a mancave.

83 tom swift August 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Very cool. Though my vision didn’t actually start to blur until I got to the Wright Bros.

One of the best rooms I ever saw belonged to a Swiss gentleman, a member of the militia (of course). The room was a fairly prosaic office except for a display of three rifles, his own issue SIG Stgw 90 , his father’s militia-issue K31, and his grandfather’s militia-issue Vetterli. Ultra cool.

84 Dr. Applebreath August 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Where is Elvis’ Jungle Room?

85 memomachine August 10, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Hmmmm.

“It’s very lame, and it needs to be stopped.”

ManLaw!

86 Mark August 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm

General Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hur built a free standing building he called his Study
http://www.ben-hur.com/history.html
The inside of the study was complete with electric and gas lights, a gas fireplace, coal furnace, an on-demand water system, and restroom. The main room contains white oak bookcases on three of the four walls. A frosted and stained glass skylight diffuses natural light into the main room.

87 zeonxavier August 10, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I wonder what John Moses Browning’s workspace or study would have looked like.

88 SukieTawdry August 10, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I attended Elmira College back when it was a private women’s college. Twain’s study had a place of honor on the campus. It was indeed a “cosy nest.”

89 Kevin August 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I’d rather see Pres. Washington’s office than Jefferson, just as I;d rather my sons choose him for a role model than Jefferson.

As to the gazebos or separate library/studies, they were common in the south. Jeff Davis had one that’s kept up as a historic site. I keep wanting to move my study out back like that.

90 Frank H August 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm

I’m appalled, simply appalled. Where’s Norm Abrams’ shop, the New Yankee Workshop?

WTF, over?

91 Georgiaboy61 August 10, 2010 at 5:35 pm

A man’s personal domain needs a name, if not “study,” “workshop,” “den” or similar, then the slang “man cave” is OK. Gotta agree with the previous post though, that the prefix “man” is being over-used, i.e. “Man crush.” No man worthy of the name has one of these, let alone uses such a phrase. Being a complete man used to mean mastery of one’s language and one’s emotions, and not gushing like an over-emotive schoolgirl.

92 Jim August 10, 2010 at 5:51 pm

What, no Parsons The New School work room from “Project Runway”?

Not that there’s anything _wrong_ with that.

93 Richard Blaine August 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Of fictional man caves: Nero Wolfe’s office, or his whole house, has to be near the top of the list.

94 Stephen August 10, 2010 at 10:57 pm

@ Dr. Applebreath,
Elvis’ Jungle room is located in Graceland, Memphis, TN.
http://elvis.com/graceland/vtour/quicktime/Jungle1.mov

Great article by the way Brett and Kate!

95 Stephen August 10, 2010 at 11:03 pm

@ Dr. Applebreath,
Elvis’ Jungle Room is located in Graceland, Memphis, TN.
http://elvis.com/graceland/vtour/quicktime/Jungle1.mov

Great article by the way, thanks Brett and Kate.

96 akfrizz August 11, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Real Men don’t whine Joe Proctor

97 Junkyard Ballerina August 11, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I resent the use of so much dead tree in the John Muir man-cave.

; )
Junkyard Ballerina, a non-man.

98 Ed Minchau August 12, 2010 at 1:26 am
99 Ben H August 12, 2010 at 10:02 am

Along the topic of man caves I am looking forward to having one of my own. I think Mark Twain’s hut and billiards room are the two best on here. Now I just need to save enough to have the extra space in the house to accomodate the space. My soon to be wife has conditionally agreed to my creating a man cave just so long as she gets her lady lair.

100 HM August 19, 2010 at 10:17 pm

I’ve been wanting to build a cabin in the woods for a while now. BTW TMM, I visited Thoreau’s cabin during a high school field trip, but I don’t think I could live in something that small. It pretty much is the size of a closet. Thats not a twin size bed pictured, its about as a big as a love seat.

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