Saturday, December 29, 2007

Abraham Lincoln Cottage

The National Trust has just finished restoring the Soldier's Home that Lincoln used as a retreat from the White House:
Now, after a seven-year preservation effort, President Lincoln's Cottage will reopen to the public as a National Trust historic site on February 18—fittingly, Presidents Day. The Trust and the Armed Forces Retirement Home (as the Soldiers' Home is now called) joined together to preserve and restore both the cottage and an adjacent 1905 Beaux-Arts building, the former administrative offices for the Soldiers' Home that will become the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center. The work began soon after President Bill Clinton named the house a national monument in 2000.

The house was used reguarly by Lincoln as a getaway:
For the president, the cottage offered an intimate setting away from the bustle of Pennsylvania Avenue. Sitting in the cottage's drawing room or library, Lincoln met with Union officers, politicians, foreign nationals, and old friends, having candid conversations that may not have been possible at the White House. On his commutes, he spoke with soldiers returning from the front, gleaning unalloyed information that he couldn't get from his generals. On the quiet cottage grounds, he revised drafts of the document that would become the Emancipation Proclamation, saw the horrors of the war in the increasingly frequent burials in the nearby graveyard, and planned his 1864 reelection campaign.

After the opening, you will be able to visit and tour this cottage:
Tours will begin at the visitors center, where a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation will be displayed, as well as exhibits on such subjects as wartime Washington, Lincoln's presidency, and the history of the Soldiers' Home. In one room, visitors will sit around a large wooden table similar to the one used by Lincoln's Cabinet, where an interactive computer program will allow them to assume the role of a Cabinet member and debate emancipation. At the cottage, visitors in guided groups of 15 will walk through the rooms, where they can sit at a facsimile of Lincoln's desk (commissioned by the Trust), or view a stack of his favorite books in the library. Without the distraction of fully decorated rooms, visitors will be free to ponder how the site might have informed Lincoln's views on emancipation and the war.

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