The Lincoln Family Home is a twofold treat, providing historical insight into the life of the Lincolns while escorting you through the lavish Manchester life of the 1900s. Abraham had only one son who survived to adulthood, Robert Todd Lincoln, who served as secretary of war and head of the Pullman Company. Robert bought the beautifully preserved 412-acre estate and built a 24-room mansion where he and his descendants lived from 1905–75. The sturdy Georgian Revival house holds many of the family's prized possessions, including one of three surviving stovepipe hats owned by Abraham and a Lincoln Bible. When the 1,000-pipe aeolian organ is played, the music reverberates as though from the mansion's very bones.
Rising from a 10-acre meadow, the new Hildene Farm, which opened in 2008, is magnificent. The agriculture center is built in a traditional style—post-and-beam construction of timber felled and milled on the estate—and has informative farming displays that recall the family's use of this land. Best of all, you can meet the resident goats and watch goat cheese being made.
The highlight, though, may be the elaborate formal gardens: in June a thousand peonies bloom. When conditions permit, you can cross-country ski and snowshoe on the property. Robert's carriage house now houses a gorgeous museum store and welcome center that showcase, among other things, a live bee exhibit. In good weather, Jessie Lincoln's 1928 vintage Franklin car is parked out front. Allow half a day for exploring Hildene.
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