Nestled in the picturesque town of Manchester, Vermont, Hildene stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Lincoln family. This historic estate was the beloved home of Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of President Abraham Lincoln. Today, Hildene serves as a living museum, offering visitors a captivating glimpse into the lives and times of the Lincoln family.
A Home with a Storied Past
Hildene was built in 1905 as a summer retreat for Robert Todd Lincoln and his wife, Mary Harlan Lincoln. The name “Hildene” is derived from the Old English words “hilde” and “denu,” meaning “hill and valley.” The estate spans over 400 acres, encompassing picturesque gardens, walking trails, and breathtaking views of the Green Mountains.
Designed by the renowned architectural firm Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, Hildene showcases the elegant and refined Beaux-Arts architectural style. The mansion features exquisite craftsmanship, with grand rooms, ornate woodwork, and beautiful stained-glass windows. Visitors can explore the various living spaces, including the formal rooms, library, bedrooms, and even the original kitchen.
Hildene holds great historical significance as the former home of Robert Todd Lincoln, who played a pivotal role in shaping American history. As the only surviving son of President Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln witnessed significant events, including his father’s presidency, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Gettysburg Address. Visitors can learn about the family’s legacy, their contributions to society, and the impact they had on shaping the nation.
The Lincoln Family’s Legacy
The estate provides a unique opportunity to explore the lives of the Lincoln family beyond the shadow of President Lincoln’s legacy. Hildene showcases the personal side of the family, highlighting their accomplishments, interests, and philanthropic endeavors. Exhibits within the estate delve into Robert Todd Lincoln’s successful career as a lawyer, diplomat, and executive, as well as the family’s love for music, gardening, and the arts.
Beautiful Gardens and Grounds
Hildene is renowned for its meticulously maintained gardens and stunning grounds. The formal gardens, inspired by the Beatrix Farrand design, feature vibrant flowers, manicured lawns, and tranquil pathways. Visitors can stroll through the Sunken Garden, the Cutting and Kitchen Gardens, and the restored 1903 Pullman car named “Sunbeam,” which now serves as a greenhouse.
Educational and Cultural Offerings
Hildene offers an array of educational and cultural programs for visitors of all ages. From guided tours and exhibits to workshops and concerts, the estate provides a diverse range of experiences. The Presidential Library and Museum display fascinating artifacts, documents, and photographs related to the Lincoln family and American history. Visitors can also enjoy musical performances on the 1,000-pipe D.K. Simmons Organ in the mansion’s music room.
Commitment to Sustainability
Hildene showcases a deep commitment to environmental sustainability, embracing modern practices that align with Robert Todd Lincoln’s own passion for conservation. The estate utilizes solar power, features an educational exhibit on renewable energy, and maintains sustainable agricultural practices, including a goat dairy and cheese-making operation.
Hildene, the Lincoln family home, offers a captivating journey into history, art, and the enduring legacy of the Lincoln family. With its breathtaking architecture, stunning gardens, and rich educational programs, this Vermont gem invites visitors to step back in time and gain a deeper understanding of the Lincoln family’s remarkable contributions.