Hildene is the beautiful Vermont retreat of the Robert Lincoln family. Nestled in the Green Mountains above the Battenkill river, this estate was the home of the Lincolns for many years. If you like historic home tours, Edwardian era decor, and gardens, you will enjoy coming to Hildene with me and my dear friend.
Robert Lincoln was the son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. During the Civil War he was a student at Harvard and then joined the Union army. He became a successful lawyer and businessman and was the chairman of the Pullman train car company. He and his wife Mary built Hildene 1903 to 1905 and they made it a beautiful cozy retreat and working farm.
You approach the front of Georgian-style house by climbing a hill from the welcome center. In the summer, Lincoln’s daughter Jessie’s 1928 Franklin Roadster greets you at the door. My friend and I were having a Downton Abbey moment with this gorgeous car.
The front hall houses an Aeolian organ with 1000 pipes disguised in the stairway. It is played daily at a keyboard with paper rolls in the entrance hall.
The kitchen shows 1905 family life – well, well-to-do family life when you own your own farm.
Downstairs you can see the dining room, music room, and laundry.
I enjoyed the Lincoln family portraits. I just can’t imagine Robert Lincoln’s life. His office is an amazing display of a successful Chicago businessman working from his retreat home all the way in Vermont.
The bedrooms show Mary Lincoln’s cozy decorating taste.
Abraham Lincoln’s hat was on display.
The formal garden is meant to look like French parterre. The flowers are wonderful. If you go in June you can see a display of peonies.
The view up here really makes you want to linger. The Battenkill river below and the view of the mountains – it’s a gorgeous setting for a garden.
There’s more to see and do on the estate property. I enjoyed the beautiful beehive built into the gift shop. There’s also a solar powered goat barn, observatory, and the 1903 Pullman car Sunbeam. You can spend many lovely hours at Hildene!
Map of New England, Vermont and New Hampshire
- Hildene website
- The Pullman sleeping car from Smithsonian magazine
- Robert Todd Lincoln from History Net
- Southern Vermont from Vermont Vacation
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