Hildene - Home of Robert Todd & Mary Lincoln

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Earlier this week I shared a blog entitled, Gardens in Stained Glass, a piece about the formal gardens at Hildene in Manchester, VT.  If you read that blog, you already know that Hildene was built by Robert Todd Lincoln, the only child of Abraham and Mary Lincoln to survive to adulthood.  Robert had visited Manchester as a young man in 1864 and loved it so much, he returned 40 years later and purchased 500 acres (at about $30 per acre) and built what he would call his 'family home'.

"Hildene is a Georgian Revival Style home designed by the Boston architectural firm Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge. Construction of this 24-room home began in 1903 and the Lincoln family moved in on June 20, 1905".  According to the Hildene website, the home was built at a cost of $63,000.  That does not include the terrace or carriage barn, or the pipe organ.  The organ alone cost $11,500.   Mary Lincoln Beckwith (Peggy) was the last Lincoln descendant to live at Hildene. She inherited Hildene in 1938 and lived there until her death in 1975. Her brother Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith (Bud) was the last direct Lincoln descendant and he died in 1985.  They were grandchildren of Todd and Mary Lincoln, (children of their daughter, Jessie).  In 1978, the Friends of Hildene raised enough money to purchase Hilene and a long process of restoration began of both the home and the gardens.
"The 1928 Franklin Roadster which once belonged to Robert Todd Lincoln's daughter, Jessie (Lincoln Beckwith Johnson Randolph). She and her then husband, John Randolph, drove the car over 60,000 miles, traveling from their Virginia plantation to their homes in Washington, D.C. and New York and to Vermont to visit her daughter Peggy. In 1948, the Franklin was discovered abandoned in a field at the Randolph's plantation. Several owners and many years of restoration later, Jessie's car found its way back to Hildene." (Taken from website)

In addition to the home, the estate houses an observatory, a carriage barn which has been restored and is used as a museum store and administration office, the formal gardens, a restored Pullman Car (subject of my next blog) and the Rowland Agricultural Center where a herd of goats are raised and cheese is manufactured.  Visitors to Hildene are able to visit the center and watch the goats being milked and watch every step in the process of the making of cheese.

This gal was literally waiting at the door for her turn to be milked.

 The 24-room home on it's 500 acres is a far cry from the humble beginnings in a log cabin that Abraham Lincoln was born into.  This photo (with the box enhanced) pictures a brick outline of the exact size of Lincoln's log cabin - quite a contrast one generation can make!

Hildene is a beautiful estate to visit.  Admission is $18.00 for adults and includes tram rides from the Visitor Center to the main house as well as the farm and the Pullman car.   Stay tuned for my next blog featuring the Sunbeam - the finest example of a wooden Pullman car on public display. We are so lucky that our state and neighboring New England offers so many historical sites where we can get a glimpse of our history and the people who shaped the area we call home. 

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