After a $15 million restoration by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private, non-profit organization, President Lincoln’s Cottage is open to the public for the first time, giving Americans an intimate, never-before seen view of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and family life.
Designated a National Monument by President Clinton in 2000, President Lincoln’s Cottage served as Lincoln’s family residence for a quarter of his presidency and is the most significant historic site directly associated with Lincoln’s presidency aside from the White House. President Lincoln’s Cottage is located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in northwest Washington D.C. and has been restored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private, non-profit organization.
In addition to President Lincoln’s Cottage, the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center adjacent to the Cottage, features related exhibits and media presentations. The restoration of President Lincoln’s Cottage and the establishment of the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center took seven years and cost over $15 million.
The historic significance of the Soldier’s Home was officially recognized in 1974, when four buildings built before the Civil War, along with six surrounding acres of land, were designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.
On July 7, 2000, President William J. Clinton declared the Lincoln Cottage and 2.3 acres of surrounding land the President Lincoln and Soldier’s Home National Monument in honor of the site’s notable role in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The President Lincoln and Soldier’s Home National Monument is officially known as “President Lincoln’s Cottage” today, but maintains its National Monument status.
During the Civil War, President Lincoln and his family resided seasonally (June-November 1862-64) at the Soldier’s Home in Washington DC. Founded in 1851 as a home for the retired and disabled veterans of American wars, the Soldier’s Home stood on 250 acres atop the third largest area in the District of Columbia. Like President Buchanan before him, Lincoln enjoyed the cool breezes and refreshing peace of the Soldier’s Home just over three miles north of downtown. But unlike his predecessor, Lincoln could not escape the Civil War and his burden of leadership even at this seasonal retreat.
The Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center is housed in a 1905 Beaux Arts style building adjacent to President Lincoln’s Cottage. The rehabilitated Visitor Education Center is the first National Trust Historic site structure to qualify for LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification from the US Green Building Council. This “green” renovation was supported by a $1 million grant from United Technologies Corporation.
All tours of the Cottage begin in the Visitor Education Center. Please check-in at Guest Reception/Museum Store 15 minutes prior to your tour.
Before touring President Lincoln’s Cottage, visitors will gather in this intimate space with their guide for an introduction to the site and to the tour experience. An interactive audio visual presentation with the tour leader will set the content for the Lincolns’ move to the Soldiers’ Home and the world in which they lived. From this room visitors will proceed directly to the Cottage.