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A Mini-Trip to President Lincoln's Summer Cottage

A Mini-Trip to President Lincoln's Summer Cottage

Apr 9th, 2014, 09:12 AM
  #1  
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A Mini-Trip to President Lincoln's Summer Cottage

President Lincoln and his family spent about 4 months each year at a summer cottage (well, 34 rooms) three miles north of the swampy and swamped White House of the 1860s. In those days, parts of what is now the Mall were still swamps. And, the White House was open to anyone. Apparently, the public rooms were usually filled with folks looking for favors.

The President rode his horse ("Old Bob") or took his carriage from the White House each evening and returned the next morning. According to the google site, he had been there the day before his assassination.

The home had belonged to the Riggs family of D.C. and the Army bought it and established a Veteran's Home and a U.S. cemetery (now filled). During the Civil War, it became a hospital as well.

Over the years, it was visited by other presidents, used solely by the Army and finally closed. Fortunately, the National Trust for Historic Preservation got it restored and opened for visitors in 2008.

Lincoln's Cottage came up at my group's travel planning session in summer of 2013. Many of us had never heard of it so put it on our 2014 itinerary.

Next: How to get there and other info.
TDudette is online now  
Apr 9th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Thanks for posting this! Hardly anyone knows about this historic site because it became a--well, is it a national park? Not sure.--only recently. And it's not the easiest to get to. But we just loved seeing it, and our guide was wonderful. I look forward to more about your visit!
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Apr 9th, 2014, 09:30 AM
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Here's the most current link:

http://lincolncottage.org/

Like many venues for weddings, historic homes with guided tours can get fully booked many months in advance. As mentioned above, our group meets in the summer and makes reservations at that time for Fall and Spring. So, I called the Cottage in July and made our reservations and sent a non-refundable deposit at that time. Of course you wouldn't have to do it that far ahead of time but if you have a month or 2, it can't hurt to be early. There were some same day walk-ups when we were checking in, FYI.

We hired a bus and drove from the Annapolis MD area. GPS suggests Rte. 50 straight to New York Ave. and then north, but our driver turned off onto South Dakota Ave. NE, followed it to Taylor NE and then Hawaii NE and we were there in about 40 minutes and without the slow traffic one can encounter on New York Ave.


From U.S.A. Today in 2008--Although there is a good shop (and you check in there) I didn't see any signs for a café on our 2014 visit so do check:

"PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S COTTAGE: http://www.lincolncottage.org or 202-829-0436.Admission, $12; ages 6-12, $5. Groups of 15 or more: $8. Reservations recommended. Tours limited to 15 people. Cafe and shop at the visitor's center.

GETTING THERE:
Located on the Armed Forces Retirement Home campus in Washington, D.C. Enter at Eagle Gate at Rock Creek Church Road NW and Upshur Street NW. Parking is available. The closest Washington Metro station is Georgia Avenue-Petworth. From there, walk northeast on New Hampshire Avenue NW. Turn right on Upshur Street NW. Upshur Street ends at Eagle Gate. Also, the H8 bus stops across the street from Eagle Gate."
TDudette is online now  
Apr 9th, 2014, 09:49 AM
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Thanks, NewbE. As far as I know, the house belongs to the National Trust for Historic Preservation which is a non-profit organization. It is still an Old Soldiers' home so guess Veteran's Admin. runs that. Perhaps someone who knows can chime in.

When the President rode his horse to the cottage, he often passed Walt Whitman's home. Whitman said they had a good nodding relationship.

Not talked about in the tour, but shown on an area map is the home of Elizabeth Keckley who sewed for Mrs. Lincoln and became a close friend. I read Ms. Keckley autobiography some years ago and it's very interesting.

But back to the tour. You must go to the education/visitor's center in a building across from the cottage first. There is a nice gift shop and several rooms with info about the Cottage.

Our guide took us to a small room in the Center and we watched an 8-minute film about the Cottage and the Lincolns' time there. Looked like there was a non-tour room with a film as well.

Across the street we see a life-sized statue (Lincoln's actual clothing used as a model) of Old Bob and Lincoln by his side.

None of the original furniture remains but a few copies give one an idea (I wished for more) of what it was like. Our guide played snippets of Lincoln's words (and those of others) as we visited each room and it was very interesting.

Much of the Emancipation Proclamation was written here so that and the Civil War were much referred to in the tour.

Next, finishing up.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 05:52 AM
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I should have said that the Old Soldiers Home is a separate building on the grounds.

We saw 3 rooms on ground level. In the 1860s, there was an unobstructed view of the Capitol buidling. A library was paneled with simple pine boards and the ghosts of walls of shelves remained. Our docent told the story of a sleepy Lincoln wearing bedroom slippers greeting a surprised guest.

On the second floor we saw two bedrooms and section of original plain pine flooring. The Lincolns' son had a pet goat that apparently slept with the boy.

Two of our party could not take the stairs so they remained on the first floor. At the end of the tour, we passed an elevator but its use was not made available to our group. There is a ramp to the visitor's center however. Something you should ask about when you make reservations.

I'm so glad to have visited Lincoln's Cottage and hope that others can also. If you are in the DC area, you can get an e-newsletter and participate in "Conversations" and other activities there.

We went to Eastern Market and split up for independent lunching/exploring.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 07:53 AM
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Great report, thank YOU! I hope more people will journey out to see the Cottage, as I find it to be a unique example of a historic home, virtually devoid of furnishings, as you say, but so rich in spirit. I swear, I felt such a human connection to the Great Emancipator there.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 07:55 AM
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Btw, I am shocked to read that it has 34 rooms! That fact escaped me when we were there, and it seems so much smaller than that; perhaps the low ceilings give that impression??
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Apr 10th, 2014, 07:57 AM
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It certainly didn't look that large to me either, NewbE--maybe they included hallways--Har. Thanks for your kind words.
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