“We respect our ancestors’ achievements by standing on their shoulders and seeing farther, not by crouching in their shadows and seeing less.” – Donald Creighton
A Great Preservation Story
Robert Lincoln built Hildene as a summer home at the turn of the 20th century. He was the only child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to survive to maturity. Robert first visited Manchester as a young man in the summer of 1864 when he came to the Equinox Hotel with his mother and his brother Tad. Some forty years later he returned to purchase 400 acres of land to build what he would call his ancestral home. At the time, Robert was president of the Pullman Company, the largest manufacturing corporation in the country.
When Peggy Beckwith, the last Lincoln descendant to live at Hildene, died in 1975, she left Hildene to the Church of Christ, Scientist - as was her grandmother's wish. The will stipulated that the church maintain Hildene as a memorial to the Lincoln family, but It didn't take long for them to realize they were not in a position to do so and made plans to sell Hildene to developers. When local neighbors and community members learned of the chruch's plans they fought to save Hildene and for the next three years went to court to finally win the right to purchase Hildene. The non-profit Friends of Hildene raised the money to purchase the estate in 1978 and began the long process of restoring the home and gardens.
The 400 acre estate with its Georgian revival mansion and 13 historic buildings includes the home, formal garden and observatory; Welcome Center and The Museum Store in the historic carriage barn; 1903 Pullman car, Sunbeam; a solar powered goat dairy and cheese-making facility and the lower portion, the Dene, was recently incorporated into the guest experience. This land functions as a campus for environmental and agricultural education for high school students and includes a teaching greenhouse, composting facility, vegetable gardens, apple orchard, and 600 foot floating wetland boardwalk. Nearby, the 1832 schoolhouse, still used for education programs, stands in contrast to the new facilities. The agricultural project in the Dene embodies Hildene’s deep commitment to conservation, stewardship and sustainability and to its mission Values into Action.
Exhibits and the main house and gardens are open daily.
Large groups and bus tours are welcomed by reservation throughout the year.
Mary Lincoln Beckwith (Peggy) was the last Lincoln descendant to live at Hildene. She inherited Hildene in 1938 and lived there until her death in 1975. Her brother Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith (Bud) was the last direct Lincoln descendant and he died in 1985.
- Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865
- Mary Todd Lincoln 1818-1882
- Robert Todd Lincoln 1843-1926
- Mary Harlan Lincoln 1846-1937
- Mary (Mamie) Lincoln 1869-1938
- Abraham (Jack) Lincoln II 1873-1890
- Jessie Lincoln Beckwith Johnson Randolph, 1875-1948
- Lincoln Isham I892-1971
- Mary (Peggy) Lincoln Beckwith 1898-1975
- Robert Lincoln Beckwith 1904-1985
Did you know...
Robert accepted an appointment as Secretary of War and served from 1881 to 1885 under both Presidents Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.
Robert later served as Minister to the Court of Saint James’s (U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom) from 1889 to 1893 under President Benjamin Harrison and then returned to private practice as a lawyer.
He was general counsel for the Pullman Palace Car Company under George Pullman and was named as president after Pullman's death in 1897. In 1911, Robert Lincoln became chairman of the board until he stepped down in 1922, but remained on the board for four more years until his death at Hildene in 1926.