Well, it’s hard to hide a 24 room mansion in plain sight, but many people have never been to the stunning property in Manchester that is known as the Lincoln Family Home. Robert Todd Lincoln’s father, honest Abe, was born in a log cabin and went on to preside over the nation in one of the country’s most momentous periods of history. One generation later, Robert Todd Lincoln became Chairman of the Pullman Company, the largest manufacturing corporation at the turn of the 20th century. He built Hildene in the in early 1900s in the scenic village of Manchester. It became home to only Lincoln descendants until 1975, longer than any other Lincoln residence.
In the early 1900s, Robert Todd Lincoln purchased 500 acres for about $30 per acre.
Construction of the house began on April 18, 1903 and the Lincolns moved into Hildene on June 20th.
The Georgian Revival style house cost $63,109 to build.
Additionally the terrace cost $1,777 and the carriage barn cost $16,100.
The formal gardens were added in 1907.
The garden was designed in 1907 for Mary Harlan Lincoln by her daughter Jessie who was influenced by French parterre gardens she had seen while the family lived in Europe and she wanted the garden to resemble a stained-glass Romanesque cathedral window.
The landscape designer who brought the gardens to life was Fredrick Todd, who was an apprentice of Fredrick Law Olmstead who was the landscape designer for Central Park in New York.
In mid-June, over 1,000 peony blossoms from original plantings fill the garden with color.
There are 24 beautifully appointed rooms, 8 bathrooms as well as an attic and basement.
There is approximately 8,000 square feet of living space and the estate has 8 fireplaces.
The 1,000-pipe organ was installed in the entrance hall at Hildene in 1908 as a gift from Robert Todd Lincoln to his wife, Mary.
It 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.
There are 242 rolls here, most of which are in good condition and it is played each day.
Robert Lincoln was the only child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to survive to adulthood.
Before the construction of Hildene, Robert accepted an appointment as Secretary of War and served from 1881 to 1885 under both Presidents Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.
Robert later served as Minister to the Court of Saint James’s (U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom) from 1889 to 1893 under President Benjamin Harrison and then returned to private practice as a lawyer.
Robert first visited Manchester as a young man in the summer of 1864 when he came to the Equinox Hotel with his mother and his brother Tad.
Some forty years later he returned to purchase 400 acres of land to build what he would call his ancestral home, Hildene.
At the time Hildene was built, Robert was president of the Pullman Company, the largest manufacturing corporation in the country.
You can see a real Pullman cart today at Hildene.
When Peggy Beckwith died in 1975, she was the last Lincoln descendant to live at here.
Upon her death she left Hildene to the Church of Christ, Scientist as was her grandmother's wish.
The will stated that the church maintain Hildene as a memorial to the Lincoln family.
Unfortunately they were not in a financial position to do this and they made plans to sell Hildene to developers.
When locals and community members learned of the plans they fought to save the historic home and fought in court for three years to win the right to purchase Hildene.
The non-profit Friends of Hildene raised the money to purchase the estate in 1978 and began the long process of restoring the home and gardens.
Facebook/Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home
The 400 acre estate has 13 historic buildings.
These include the home, formal garden and observatory, welcome center and museum store in the historic carriage barn, 1903 Pullman car, Sunbeam, a solar powered goat dairy and cheese-making facility and the lower portion, the Dene, was recently incorporated into the guest experience.
The land functions as a campus for environmental and agricultural education for high school students.
It includes a teaching greenhouse, composting facility, vegetable gardens, apple orchard, and 600 foot floating wetland boardwalk.
Exhibits and the main house and gardens are open daily.
Large groups and bus tours are welcomed by reservation throughout the year.
Guests love to explore the natural areas of Hildene on approximately 12 miles of walking trails.
There are interpretative signs along the Farm Loop Trail highlighting a variety of trees, shrubs, ferns and natural habitats.
Hildene is open Daily from 9:30 to 4:30 except Thanksgiving, December 24, 25, 26 and Easter.
It is located at 1005 Hildene Road,
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