Last weekend a friend and I drove over to Manchester, Vermont to visit the Lincoln family home, known as Hildene. We enjoyed a leisurely drive up Route 30, stopping at antique shops along the way. We followed Route 7 South through Manchester, to the gates and long driveway through the woods to Hildene. The mansion was owned by Robert Todd Lincoln, who was the only one of President Lincoln’s sons to survive to adulthood, and his wife, Mary Harlan Lincoln. Robert Todd Lincoln spent his summers here with his family from 1905 until 1926, when he passed away.
We stopped in the Visitors Center and enjoyed a short film giving an overview of the property and its history and then walked up the path to the main house. We entered the foyer immediately engulfed in the sound of music coming from the home’s organ, setting the scene for a very interesting house tour. All of the furnishings in the home belonged to the Lincoln family, who lived in the house until 1970. The house has two wings flowing out from the foyer, with a sweeping staircase leading to the second floor. It was so interesting to walk through the rooms, many of which looked like the inhabitants had just left a moment ago. One of the rooms had not been freshened up or renovated, but left “as is”, and retained an air of faded elegance.
The back of the house has French doors which open onto a formal garden with a glorious view overlooking the hills and valley below. We wandered the paths of the garden, enjoying the blossoms as well as the expansive view.
We then walked the woodsy path that led to the restored Pullman railroad car that was part of the property and learned about the the Pullman Company, Robert Todd Lincoln’s role in it, and the role of Pullman Porters after the Civil War. Fascinating stuff!
The property also has a farm with a herd of Nubian goats and a cheese making operation that is an extension of the Lincoln family members interest in farming. The cheese is for sale in the gift shop and visitors can tour the goat farm as part of their visit. Hildene was well worth the trip: I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore Southern Vermont.