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Hildene: The Lincolns in Vermont

Hildene: The Lincolns in Vermont
Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home was the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln and his wife Mary Harlan Lincoln. He was the oldest son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln.

The name Hildene is from the old English words meaning hill and valley with stream. Finished in 1905 in the Georgian Revival style, the mansion is located on a 300 foot promontory overlooking the picturesque Battenkill Valley. Approximately half of the almost 500 acre estate is located at the lower level of the valley and includes meadows and wetlands. Hildene remained occupied by descendants of the Lincoln family until 1975, when the next to last descendant of the Lincoln-Harlan family, Mary Lincoln Beckwith, granddaughter of Robert and Mary, died there.

Visitors are welcome to take a guided or self-guided tour of the home. Hildene is furnished almost entirely with Lincoln family furniture, and contains artifacts belonging to Robert Todd Lincoln and his parents. The house has a 1,000-pipe Aeolian organ, a gift in 1908 from Robert Todd Lincoln to his wife, Mary. The organ is believed to be the oldest residential pipe organ with a player attachment still in its original location and still in working order in the United States, and is played each day.

Visitors are welcome to tour Hildene's gardens and farm. The beautiful Hoyt formal gardens are best viewed in mid-June, when over 1,000 peony blossoms from original plantings fill the garden with color. In addition, Hildene is home to the Rowland Agricultural Center, a working farm that includes goats whose milk is produced into cheese right at the Center. Each step of the process is visible to visitors.  The estate's cutting and kitchen garden is home to flowers, vegetables and a butterfly garden.

Those that love nature will enjoy the eight miles of walking trails with interpretive signs highlighting trees, bushes, shrubs, ferns and the natural habitats of the Battenkill Valley. The Meadows sit three hundred feet below the main house and gardens and was once used by Robert as pastures for his livestock. Today, the Meadows are  home to a number of farmhouses, buildings, and an original 1832 one-room schoolhouse. The Carriage Barn at Hildene was once used to house the Lincoln family's carriages and horses. It now serves as the Welcome Center and houses the Museum Store and administrative offices. In the winter, the Carriage Barn also becomes the check in point for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The Estate also includes some unusual artifacts from Robert Todd Lincoln's life. The Pullman car 'Sunbeam' was restored and brought to Hildene as homage to Robert Todd Lincoln's presidency of the Pullman Company. In addition, visitors can view a 1928 Franklin Roadster that once belonged to Robert Todd's daughter Jessie. Of interest to visitors is the observatory which Lincoln built on a high point of land northeast of the house.

For more information about Hildene, visit www.hildene.org. To learn more about Manchester, visit www.manchesterdesigneroutlets.com.

 

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