About This Location
Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, nestled at 1005 Hildene Road in Manchester Center, Vermont, is a historical gem that reflects the storied past of the Lincoln family. This remarkable estate was once the summer retreat of Robert Todd Lincoln and his wife, Mary Harlan Lincoln, offering an intimate glimpse into their lives.
The connection between Robert Todd Lincoln and Manchester dates back to the summer of 1863. Seeking refuge from a stifling Washington, D.C. heatwave, Robert, along with his brother Tad and mother Mary Todd Lincoln, embarked on a journey to this charming town. Little did they know that decades later, Robert would establish Hildene, a grand Georgian Revival-style home, in this very place.
Constructed in 1905, Hildene graces a 300-foot promontory, commanding breathtaking vistas of the picturesque Battenkill Valley. The name "Hildene" itself derives from old English, eloquently translating to "hill" and "valley with stream." Encompassing approximately 412 acres, the estate is a harmonious blend of pristine meadows, serene wetlands, and meticulously manicured gardens.
One of Hildene's most renowned features is its formal garden, a masterstroke in landscaping that emulates the intricate design of a cathedral's stained glass window. A privet hedge artfully outlines the stained glass pattern, and within this living masterpiece, a profusion of over 1,000 herbaceous peonies paints the garden with an array of vibrant colors.
Hildene remained in the care of Lincoln family descendants until 1975, bearing witness to generations of history. In 1978, the Friends of Hildene, a nonprofit organization, stepped in and acquired the property. Their dedicated efforts in restoration breathed new life into the house, its outbuildings, and the splendid gardens. The interiors of Hildene are a testament to the family's legacy, adorned with Lincoln family furniture and cherished artifacts once owned by Robert Todd Lincoln and his parents.
Notably, in 1908, Hildene welcomed an Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, a magnificent musical treasure installed at a cost of $11,500. In 1980, the Friends of Hildene undertook the painstaking restoration of this remarkable organ.
Hildene's doors are open year-round, offering visitors a rich array of experiences. From self-guided tours of Robert and Mary's elegant home to strolls through the meticulously designed gardens, a journey to Hildene is a step back in time. The estate also features Hildene Farm, the Pullman car Sunbeam, Dene Farm, and approximately 12 miles of walking trails that allow guests to explore this historic sanctuary.
The distinction of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its cultural and historical significance was bestowed upon Hildene on October 28, 1977. This honor reflects Hildene's remarkable role in preserving the legacy of one of America's most iconic families, the Lincolns, and ensures that their story continues to be shared and celebrated for generations to come. The National Park Service assigned Hildene reference number 77000095.