News Highlights and Press Releases from Hildene


Voices 5


The American Ideal exhibit
UpCountry Magazine: ‘With malice toward none, with charity for all’

featured in "UpCountry Magazine," published January 1, 2021. Author: Telly Halkias

"On March 4, 1865, the Civil War continued to rage in its final stages across battlefields in the South, such as the prolonged bloody affair at Petersburg, which was not to be decided for another three weeks.

On that day, President Abraham Lincoln — he was not assured of reelection in the fall of 1864, with the war hanging in the balance — stepped to the podium on the Capitol’s East Portico, to deliver what was the most significant speech of his career — his second inaugural address.

The speech has been hailed by historians as one of the great oratories of all time. Yet, with so much promise for the postbellum period ahead, 41 days later, John Wilkes Booth assassinated the president in the balcony of Ford’s Theatre in Washington.

It also is celebrated in a permanent exhibit available to the public in Manchester, at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home."

To read the entire article, visit:

Guess the Lincoln Pennies
Hildene Celebrates President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln signed the first annual national “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, designating the last Thursday of November as the official day of celebration for the country. The Civil War president saw this holiday as a time for a war-weary people to pause and give thanks that the conflict would soon be over.

To honor President Lincoln’s role in making Thanksgiving a day of celebration for all Americans and to acknowledge the 16th President’s relentless curiosity and ability to tackle the most serious of challenges, Hildene challenges its visitors to “Guess the Lincoln Pennies in the Jar.” The contest commences on Thursday, November 19 and runs through Monday, December 7, the conclusion of the annual open house weekend, Our Home for the Holidays, in The Museum Store.

Youth ages 5 to 15, accompanied by an adult, are invited to stop by the Welcome Center during this time to record their estimate. The winner will be the person whose guess comes closest to the total number of pennies. She or he will receive a check in his or her name for the actual amount and Hildene will match that amount with a check to a non-profit of the winner’s choosing (certain criteria do apply). Adults, those 16 and older, may also participate by submitting a guess. In this case the winner will win a Hildene Family Membership. The winners are announced following open house weekend. Only one entry per person is allowed and no admission fee or store purchase is required to make a guess.

Amos King bible, gifted to Abraham Lincoln
Roe: Port Byron’s Lincoln connection comes full circle

excerpt, authored by Dawn Roe, for The Citizen (October 18, 2020):

...The name Amos S. King has drifted in and out of my life for over a decade. My first introduction to Amos was in response to a letter sent to the village from Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, Vermont. They had a Bible in their collection containing a cover letter signed by "Amos S. King, Port Byron Cayuga County, NY." His wisdom to sign his county of residence lead my focus to our local King family. Amos was a grandson of Philip King, the namesake of King’s Settlement, as we were once called before our name changed to Port Byron.

The breakthrough moment was when I received an email from Philip Russell, who was contacted by his sister living in Central Square, after she read my article in the Auburn Citizen seeking contact with anyone having additional information. Russell had in his possession the thank you letter sent to Amos King by John G. Nicolay, President Lincoln’s private secretary, which was “the missing piece proving its authenticity was found” said Paula Maynard, press director at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home...

Read the article in its entirety, HERE.

Volunteer Members of the Plant-a-Row crew
The Plant A Row: a Garden of Giving

Records and photos from Hildene archives indicate that the historic site’s Cutting and Kitchen Gardens, located behind the Museum Store/Welcome Center, supplied the Lincoln family with a full range of vegetables, berries and fruit. Located down the terraced hillside below the Formal Garden, the Lincoln family preferred this area for recreation and relaxation.

Two decades ago, Hildene volunteers Bonnie Franklin, Emmie McCusker and others worked on reviving the Cutting and Kitchen Gardens and in recent years this special space has become a source for vegetables and flowers, not only for Hildene, but for others in the community. Dedicated Hildene volunteers diligently grow and harvest fresh produce for the Manchester Community Food Cupboard in, what is known as, the Plant A Row Garden.”

Initiated in 2002 under the leadership of Hildene volunteer Garry Roosma and in partnership with its Hildene neighbor, Equinox Valley Nursery, the “Plant A Row Garden” put down roots. An avid gardener in her time, Ruth Harvie, took over for Garry, who continued to help, and the garden continued to grow and prosper in the hands of its talented and dedicated volunteer gardeners. In 2008 Jane Moriarty joined Ruth in stewardship and the following year transitioned to her current leadership position. With the green thumb assistance of Hildene garden volunteers, who collectively gave 200 hours of their time that year, the garden yielded 574 pounds of produce.

Jane, now a garden veteran in her 12th year as “organizer- in - chief,” can look back with a smile and admit, “The garden’s success has not come without challenges.” She recalls, “It failed in 2009 and collapsed in 2013 due to hungry deer and a groundhog invasion. Never-the-less, whenever I have asked for help, the Hildene staff has come to our rescue. This time was no exception. It wasn’t long before the construction of the stately fence that now surrounds the garden was complete and serving as a fortress for animal intruders.” Jane and the Plant A Row team of volunteer gardeners are also grateful for the most recent garden improvement, the construction of raised beds. Dene Farm Gardener and Educator, Ann Hausslein, who helped with the project, admits, “It’s good to know … there’s no more chicken wire fence and the erosion of the early years.”

Herbs were added to the garden this year, courtesy of the Manchester Garden Club, and looking to the future, Jane sees the success with the herbs as a precursor to other interesting crops that may appeal to Food Cupboard users. She adds, “This is my 12th year of being the garden organizer and I am ready to pass my role on to someone else. Though I will still be a volunteer gardener in the Plant A Row, I am a believer that “new eyes” bring new ideas to a group and that change is good.”

It is anticipated that by the end of this year’s harvest, the total vegetables gleaned over the last 18 years and donated to the Manchester Community Food Cupboard will be close to 6,000 lbs.

These numbers do not include the early years when records were not recorded. While yields vary, the average has been 500 lbs. a year, with the highest being 800 lbs. Hildene President, Brian Keefe, is quick to point out that, “The accomplishments and contributions of time and energy given to the Plant A Row Garden and therefore the community, would not be possible without Hildene’s volunteer gardeners. The Hildene staff’s collective gratitude goes out to: Jane Moriarty, Becky Burke, Bill Burke, Chris Graf, Liz Luca, Carol Munson, and Ron Rusche!”

Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Maynard, hopes that this is a garden that will keep on giving to the community, adding … “More hands in the garden are always appreciated.” To learn more about volunteering in the Plant A Row Garden, contact:

Fall 2019_Hildene and the Franklin
Seven Days Vermont "Staytripper": Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, Offers Insight Into America’s Past and Present

Article published in Seven Days Vermont "Staytripper" special edition, September 22, 2020. Written by Kristen Ravin.

What if you could combine an enjoyable getaway with an opportunity to learn about America's history and contemplate its future? Hildene, the Lincoln family home in Manchester, is a family-friendly and thought-provoking destination with attractions for visitors of all ages, including those invested in social and environmental issues.

Situated on the Battenkill River between the Taconic and Green mountains, Hildene is the ancestral home of Robert and Mary Lincoln, the son and daughter-in-law of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. The estate's 412 acres contain a slew of natural features — forest, field and wetland — as well as 14 historic buildings, including Robert and Mary's Georgian Revival mansion.

Robert built his family's southern Vermont summer abode in 1905. It housed three generations of Lincolns until 1975, when the last descendant to live in the home died and left it to the Church of Christ, Scientist. Three years later, local community members formed the nonprofit Friends of Hildene and purchased the estate as a memorial to the Lincoln family. read more of Seven Days VT coverage of Hildene, CLICK HERE!

Pond Program, Hildene 2020: new offerings for Fall!
Hildene Educators Offer Supplement to Virtual Learning

As Vermont elementary schools opened statewide, each found their own working model and parents and teachers continue to seek creative ways to ensure success while providing the best educational experiences possible for young students. Acutely aware of the challenges COVID has presented since spring, Hildene has been offering options for learning, be it at home, in the classroom, or on property, and is now doing just that again. Programs have been reconfigured to meet COVID protocols, and Hildene educators are striving to be flexible to meet the specific needs of the learners and the schools. This past summer, they successfully offered “Camp in a box,” which nearly 30 families took advantage of.

These creative educators have now come up with some fall options. In Education Director, Diane Newton’s words, “Nature’s positive impact on our health and well-being is well documented and connecting kids to the natural world is more important now than it has ever been.” Education Assistant, Lisa Maggio, adds we are prepared to offer our programs to students on school grounds or on the Hildene campus.”

Before the snow flies, students will now be able to dive into the worlds of Pond Critters! (Grades 1-2 & 3-4); Mighty Monarchs (Grades K-3); Honey Bees (Grades K-2 & 3-4); and even the Secrets of Seeds (1-2 & 3-4). Each program is 1.5 hours and the emphasis is on observation and inquiry skills as well as hands-on learning. Love and respect for the natural world is at the heart of each offering.

School programs are $3.00 per student. Homeschool or Hildene based programs are $25.00 per family. Full descriptions of the programs and The Next Generation Science Standards that are linked to each, are available at: www.hildene/schools/programs.html.www.hildene/schools/programs.html.

For information or to schedule a program, call Diane Newton, Education Director, at 802.874.4787 or 802.367.7965, or email Diane at

Horticulturist, Andrea and Dene Farm Managers Kim & Ann
Garden Tours & Wagon Rides at Hildene

Hildene horticulturist, Andrea Luchini invites guests to stroll through Hildene’s gardens, rooted in history and maintained to ensure a sustainable future. The group will explore the historic formal, cutting and kitchen gardens and the newer plantings, such as the native plant pollinator and butterfly gardens. Andrea encourages those touring to come with questions! This hour-long tour is for a family or pod of up to 6 people: $10/person; Mondays and Fridays, 11:00 to noon, by reservation only.

For those interested in discovery, starting September 2, Dene Farm managers Ann Hausslein (gardens) and Kim Pinsonneault (livestock) are offering a wagon ride exploration of Hildene’s Dene Farm on Wednesdays or Fridays, from 2:00 to 3:30pm, through October. Riders will learn about the diverse natural and cultivated ecosystems and sustainable farming systems. They will swing by the greenhouse, hayfields, orchard, wetland overlook, compost facility, apiary, animals (including alpaca, Randall cattle, pigs, sheep, rabbits and chickens), and vegetable and flower gardens. $50 for a family or pod of 4 ($10 for each additional member, up to 8 maximum).

To make a reservation for either the Garden tour and/or Wagon Ride at Dene Farm, please call Hildene Programming Director, Stephanie Moffett-Hynds at 802.367.7960 or email

The health and safety of Hildene’s guests, volunteers, staff and farm animals are paramount and all decisions regarding phased openings have been based on that priority and are in keeping with all state and federal recommendations and CDC Guidelines. Masks or facial coverings are required indoors at all times and outdoors when within 6 feet of others who are not part of one’s household.

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home and The Museum Store are currently open Thursday – Monday from 10-4. For more information go to

Natural Science Investigations at Hildene, Home Study kits 2020
Natural Science Investigations for Fall Home Study

Hildene educators have been busy creating four exciting home study kits that children, eager to learn, will find both challenging and fun, from ponds to pollinators, indoors and out. Designed for children entering 1st through 4th grade, the kits are meant to spark curiosity and provide hands-on learning about the natural world. While supporting the Next Generation Science Standards, the kits provide opportunities for children to explore and make their own discoveries, while they are practicing skills such as asking questions, making careful observations, communicating outcomes and reflecting upon results.

Each of the four kits: Ponds and Wetlands, Plants and Pollinators, Forests and Seeds to Fruit includes information related to its theme, the necessary equipment and special materials for the activities. The Next Generation Science Standards that are linked to each kit are available at

Ponds and Wetlands includes a visit to a nearby pond or wetland armed with a net, magnifying viewer and critter keys. Using these investigative tools is just one of the layers of each child’s quest to: Figure out how aquatic critters and plants adapt to live in a watery world and what benefits wetlands provide that no other ecosystem does. Children will find plenty of fun tied into their work! Building a duck from cattails that will float, among other related activities, is sure to be a hit.

Young minds learn that pollinators literally put food on their table or in their lunchboxes in the Plants and Pollinators kit. They will also become familiar with who the pollinators are while on a pollinator hunt, coming to the realization that they play a vital role in agriculture and natural communities and deserve to be protected and promoted. From dissecting a flower to making a bee’s wax candle and in between, there is discovery at every turn.

While many people may not know that a forest plays a role in providing clean water, children who take part in the Forest kit surely will. In addition, through journaling, crafting and investigation, this kit explores tree identification and anatomy, life in the forest, and includes forest sensory activities. After the children build their forest food web and create their own micro forest ecosystem in a jar, the young forest explorers may want to sit down to enjoy and perhaps share their forest experience over a “tree tea.”

When someone opens a lunch box or bag and delights in the sight of a luscious fruit, that person is likely grateful but not necessarily considering the fruit’s journey to lunch. Children who engage in the Seeds to Fruits kit will not only appreciate the fruit, they will learn how it came to be and how important soil is to, not only the fruit, but everything in the ecosystem. They will dissect seeds, play Apple Tree Life Cycle Sort, and examine different fruits, searching for clues that they were once a flower. As for that very important soil, the children will conduct soil experiments and build a micro composter. The kit also includes related crafts and recipes.

The activities can be done in or around the child’s home or at Hildene. Each kit includes a 5-day grounds pass to Hildene, for the option to use Hildene’s property for the field investigations. Designed to be picked up at Hildene’s Museum Store, each kit costs $25 and contains the equipment and materials needed for one child. The kits can also be mailed for an additional fee to cover shipping costs. To order a kit or for more information, please contact Diane Newton, Education Director, at

The Hildene Honey Harvest
The Hildene Honey Harvest

How does Hildene honey make it from the Dene Farm meadow to The Museum Store to the homes of people who delight in its amazing taste and texture? The answer: It takes teamwork and is a great example of how humankind and nature, when working together, benefit each other.

Hildene is guided by its mission: Values into Action and committed to its role as a pollinator sanctuary. From the classroom to farmscaping and product development, sustainability is a priority. All decisions, with regard to where and what is planted, are made in consideration of habitat and food resources for pollinators.

In early August, Hildene Education Director and Beekeeper Diane Newton, with help from staff, began the honey extraction process, first pulling the honey supers from the apiary in the Dene Farm meadow. Super boxes are located above the brood boxes in a hive. The bees store honey and pollen for their own use in the brood boxes and use the supers for storage of surplus honey. Within all hive boxes are frames in which the bees build honeycomb, a lightweight wax structure made up of hexagonal cells where food is stored and bees are raised. It is from these frames that precious honey is also extracted, using centrifugal force with a honey extractor. This yearly event is a reminder that humans have the bees to thank for the “nectar of the gods.” These amazing insects produce honey in such abundance, that humans are able to harvest the excess.

While enjoying the honey, it is worth remembering the importance of pollination. Bees are the best pollinators because their lives depend on the act – the life process that allows plants to produce the seeds that create a next generation of plants. Nectar and pollen are the only foods bees eat.

Beyond providing food for people, pollinators also keep plant and animal communities healthy. Mammals from mice to bears depend on insect pollinated fruits and seeds and a quarter of all birds eat fruits and seeds as a major part of their diet.

When all is said and done, honeybees are the primary pollinators for about one fourth of all crops produced in the United States, making them very “busy bees.”

Guests are encouraged to visit The Museum Store located in the Welcome Center where they will not only find new Hildene Estate Honey (also available online), but will discover pollinator plants and estate products including: peony seeds and seedlings; cheeses; farm yarns; and soaps. The Museum Store is always stocked with a curated collection of gifts and products for all ages. Admission is not required to shop The Museum Store. Curbside pick-up is available Thursday – Monday, orders may be placed by calling 802.367.7968 or by visiting Hildene’s online store.

Civil Civic Discourse
Racial Inequality Today

At Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, our mission, Values into Action, compels us to model and advocate for the values of President Abraham Lincoln. This is particularly appropriate at this moment in history.

The horrific killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, and the protests that have been occurring across the country reveal deep-seated frustrations and inequalities. In living up to the legacy of President Lincoln, it is important that we at Hildene confront the history and causes of grievances that divide us, acknowledge our shortcomings and find pathways to a better future in which the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can be more readily achieved by all Americans.

Abraham Lincoln saw racism embedded in society and used the power of his convictions to end the system at the heart of that injustice. But the work of equal rights for all remains unfinished. At Hildene, in our own age, we always seek to echo Lincoln’s values to ensure that our policies, procedures, and programming make the Lincoln Family Home a place that is inclusive and welcoming to all. We do not and will not condone any prejudice, discrimination, bigotry or acts of violence.

Two of our premier exhibits, The American Ideal and Many Voices, speak directly to racial inequality as a means of inviting thoughtful discussions on racism today. Both are integral to our history education for youths. We are developing ways – as the pandemic allows – to expand programming to better serve the cause of civil civic discourse and advance toward a more equal society.

With these exhibits, and with all we do, we are listening to your voices to ensure our presentation of history is accurate and our programs, inspired by President Lincoln’s values, have relevance today.

When he issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, President Lincoln commented, "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper." His decree was the first step along an unfinished road to fulfilling the promise of equal treatment for black Americans. We could not be more certain that progress down that road is essential to our country, and that Hildene can and will do its part.

"Camp-in-a-Box" at Hildene

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, has made the difficult decision to cancel summer camps for the 2020 season, citing that its highest priority is the health and well-being of young campers, their families and the staff. Education Director, Diane Newton, notes that, “Camp is both a learning and social experience, so  after careful deliberation, it became clear that the required safety protocols would be immensely challenging and insufficient to ensure the safety of campers and their families.”  As is often the case however, from disappointment - can come opportunity, and with years of summer camp experience in their toolbox, the camp staff figuratively took apples and made sweet cider - in other words, a great idea was born! 

Hildene’s eager educators have created an alternative for this year, literally putting Camp in a Box.  Designed for children entering first through sixth grade, the Camp in a Box themes are Plants and Pollinators, Ponds and Wetlands, Forests and Farm Day.  Favorite investigations and activities were chosen and all the necessary equipment and any special materials needed are included so children are prepared to explore with their parents, grandparents, siblings or caregivers.  Camp in a Box provides all the tools needed to have fun, learn together, and peak a child’s curiosity, while discovering the simple wonders of the natural world. Unprecedented times require unprecedented solutions and this solution includes lots of fun! 

Camp in a Box will be available beginning July 1 at a cost of $75 for Hildene members and $100 for nonmembers.  It includes a 5-day pass to Hildene that offers the option of doing the activities on site. Families can also opt for an add-on that includes having a Hildene staff educator join the family for a Camp in the Box themed activity.  The discounted rate for “Camp in a Box” and unlimited visits to Hildene come with the purchase of a Hildene membership. 

For more details or answers to questions, please contact Hildene Education Director, Diane Newton at 802.367.7965 or email

2020 Hildene Eighth Grade Lincoln Essay Competition Winners Announced

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, Vermont, has announced the winners of its 2020 Hildene Essay Competition. Top finishers in each of four geographical areas were selected from the 167 entries from Vermont eighth graders. “This is one of our signature annual programs,” said Hildene President Brian Keefe, “and we were once again enormously impressed by the quality of the writing as well as the variety of topics chosen. Consistent with our mission of Values into Action, these eighth graders demonstrated their desire to spur action on important issues facing Vermont.”
In the fall of 2019, application packets for the competition’s 14th year were distributed to teachers of 8th grade English, history, and social studies, and to librarian and homeschool networks statewide. All materials were also available online at To encourage participation from all parts of the state, the competition is configured into four regions. Region One is comprised of Grand Isle, Franklin, Orleans, Essex, Lamoille, Caledonia, and Washington Counties. Region Two is Chittenden County. Region Three includes Addison, Rutland, and Bennington Counties. Region Four incorporates Orange, Windsor and Windham Counties. A first, second and third place winner was chosen from each of the four regions and four honorable mentions were selected from the combined pool of finalists.
Before taking on the 2020 challenge, students were reminded that today and throughout history, advocacy by the people and for the people has been essential. In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, “The legitimate object of government is ‘to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves’.”
The young essayists were then asked to identify one issue facing Vermont that you think your state (the Scott administration and/or the legislature) should address. Describe the challenge and its negative impacts. Then explain why governmental action is appropriate, suggest one or more actions that state government should take and explain why you think such action would improve the situation.
A panel of judges from across the nation, through blind judging, selected the winning essays. They evaluated them based on their content, the student’s understanding of the subject and ability to convey that understanding using good writing practices including style, composition, grammar and factual accuracy – all in 500 words or fewer! Hildene applauds all who participated.
Students focused on a wide range of issues and the level of engagement left no doubt among the judges that the students involved will make Vermont and the world an even better place. Climate change was the most frequently addressed topic, but students also proposed ways to address other issues as well, such as: affordable housing; more support for drug addiction rehabilitation and mental health facilities; gun control measures; paid family sick/parental leave; attracting and keeping a robust and younger work force; reducing business and income taxes; bringing down the disproportionately high African American incarceration rate; preserving farms and forests; removing taxes on feminine hygiene products; and incorporating training across the board in both the school system and work force regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.
This year’s LEC First Place Winners receive $500, Second Place $400, Third Place $300, and Honorable Mentions $200. Region One First Place winner, Destiny Thompson, from St. Albans City School, proposed a mandatory state system for unbiased inspections of rental properties yearly in order to address substandard housing; Second Place Rowan Clough, from Harwood Union Middle School in South Duxbury, outlined ways the state could help ensure the preservation of Vermont’s natural landscape; Third Place Una Colby, from Gilman Middle School in Lunenburg, advocated for more rehabilitation facilities to treat opioid addicts.
Region Two First Place winner Isaac Doggett, from Edmunds Middle School in Burlington, proposed that every doctor in Vermont be required to complete the buprenorphine training course in order to better address opioid use disorder; Second Place Eleuthera Barr-Brandt, from Edmund Middle School, urges the state to pass legislation to eliminate all menstrual supplies from taxation, categorizing these necessities under Medical Equipment and Supplies; Third Place Vivian Halladay, from Edmunds Middle School, urges the state to challenge the federal law that prohibits safe injection sites.
Region Three First Place winner Christopher Alfano, from Maple Street School in Manchester, urges the state to lower taxes and revise Act 250 so more young people will move to Vermont to fill jobs and start new businesses; Second Place Eliza Doucet, Red Cedar School in Bristol,
advocates for 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all Vermont parents, paid for by implementing a state disability insurance program; Third Place Lily Hutcheson from Hiland Hall School in Bennington, would like to see a bill that would restrict or ban plastic bottles (except during emergencies).
Region Four First Place winner Delia Morgan, Upper Valley Waldorf School in Quechee, would like the state to have a mandatory weekly or monthly farm visit program for all school children to inspire them to become farmers; thus ensuring the future of farming in Vermont; Second Place Nicole Pereira, Brattleboro Area Middle School, asks that the state take measures to incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and implicit bias training for all teachers, staff and students and for the curriculum to more adequately reflect the diversity of human experience; Third Place Elias Zamore-Cohen, Brattleboro Area Middle School, advocates for stronger background checks and DEI training for judges and police officers to address the implicit bias that contributes to the unacceptably high rate of incarceration of African Americans in the state.
The 2020 Honorable Mentions: Aiden Decker, Otter Valley Union Middle School, urges cutting state taxes to spur job growth, stimulate the economy and retain workers; Sarah Jane Gregory, Christ the King in Rutland, encourages the state to implement a mandatory waiting period of at least 24 hours for gun purchases; Aoife Crainich, Edmunds Middle School, argues that K-!2 diversity education be mandatory and include curriculum to explore unconscious bias; Hannah Cunningham, Edmunds Middle School, encourages the state to implement pilot programs for inmates to reduce recidivism.
In years past, winners were honored at an Awards Luncheon at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home in May. Due to the coronavirus and the need for social distancing this year, celebrating the accomplishments of these amazing students will quite literally “look” different. The winners are honored on the Hildene website In addition to this recognition, all First, Second and Third Place Winners, as well as Honorable Mentions, have recorded themselves reading their essays. Their videos will be available for viewing online on Hildene’s YouTube, May 17 - the date they would typically have been honored in - person.
To learn more about Hildene’s Lincoln Essay Competition, contact Hildene Programming Director, Stephanie Moffett-Hynds at 802.367.7960 or email


Four Legged Friends
Hildene's Four Legged Friends Go "Farm to Fiber" at Dene Farm!

While spring is synonymous with flowering plants and growth in abundance, it is also a time of rebirth on Vermont farms, and Hildene’s Dene Farm is no exception. Even though the historic Lincoln site is temporarily closed to the public, the farm is full of life and all involved are waiting for a return to normalcy.
It was the estate’s last resident, President Lincoln’s great granddaughter Peggy Beckwith, who originally brought agriculture back to Hildene’s lower portion, now named Dene Farm. She milked Jersey cows in the barn and raised beef cattle and sheep in this pasture where farming continues with an assortment of livestock including alpaca, sheep, heritage-breed Randall cattle, pigs, rabbits and chickens. Livestock Manager and Educator, Kim Pinsonneault, points out that, “Everything at Dene Farm has a purpose.”
During this time of year, the alpaca and sheep are shorn on the farm, providing the natural wool fiber that, once spun, will become skeins of Hildene Farm yarn. A popular purchase for knitters -near and far, yarn is currently available from The Museum Store online at
Hildene’s first exclusive knitwear product, “The Railsplitter Cap,” knitted with Hildene Farm Twist, can be found online as well. Meghan Goodwin, Manager of The Museum Store stresses that, “Whenever we work on developing a new estate product it is important that it be sustainably produced and reflect the Lincoln legacy as well as our core values.” To that end, the cap’s pattern represents the past with rails and the future with fence posts. Ties to the railroad are a part of the legacies of two Lincolns: President Lincoln, a railsplitter in his youth and ardent supporter of a transcontinental railroad during his presidency; son, Robert Lincoln, President of the Pullman Railcar Company 1897-1911. The split rail fences surrounding the rejuvenated farmland are a visual reminder of Hildene’s commitment to sustainable agriculture, environmental education and stewardship. Goodwin notes, “A sustainably produced natural fiber knit hat inspired by our history and natural landscape has also opened up new opportunities for engagement with our volunteer knitters and our guests.”
Hildene’s farm animals and staff look forward to the day visitors will once again be able to experience Dene Farm. They want to remind the public that this special place is also home to abundant vegetable gardens, an orchard, hay fields, an apiary and a 600’ foot floating boardwalk. To learn more about Hildene, visit Hildene farm yarn offerings have expanded to 4 yarn styles and a variety of natural colorways. They can be found in the Online store. For local pick-up options during Hildene’s temporary closure, please email


Dene_Farm_celebrating_Earth Day
Celebrating Earth Day 2020

A Portion of Press Director Paula Maynard's Press Release was published in the Manchester Journal on April 17th, as commentary. The article in its entirety appears below...

Earth Day, celebrated around the world each year on April 22, demonstrates support for global environmental protection and is an important reminder of the peril our planet faces. Here in Manchester every day is Earth Day at Hildene. Driven by its mission: Values into Action and two of its key priorities: preservation and sustainability, Hildene staff and its supporters are all in. As a result, annually 40-50,000 guests and thousands of students of all ages leave this cultural heritage site more aware of Mother Earth’s needs than they were before they arrived. Hildene is temporarily closed to the public but that doesn’t prevent anyone from “going remote” to focus on its 412 acres and environmental endeavors as we collectively keep our distance and celebrate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary.

Embarking on our “remote” visit to Hildene, the first stop is on the entrance road, at the Goat Dairy and Cheesemaking micro-operation, where great cheese is made. Notable is the 40’ x 100’ barn, home and milking parlor for Hildene’s herd of Nubian goats. The barn was built in 2008 with lumber harvested and milled on property in accordance with Hildene’s 25-year forest management plan. This is only one of the many buildings on the Hildene campus heated with highly efficient wood burning furnaces, collectively eliminating 7,000 gallons of oil and other fossil fuels each year and reducing Hildene’s carbon footprint by utilizing renewable energy like cordwood and solar panels as well.

Moving on one catches a glimpse of the home the Lincoln family lived in from 1905 to 1975, an historic mansion now warmed by a wood burning furnace, before turning slightly right and ahead to the circle in front of the Hildene Welcome Center, The Museum Store and Youth Education Building. At this time of year it is hard to miss the “Bee Lawn” filled with crocuses in full bloom and varied colors and other pollinator plants in front of the Youth Education Building. Education Director, Diane Newton points out that, “While bee lawns continue to preserve the function of traditional lawns, they have the added benefits of supporting pollinators, improving biodiversity and have increased resiliency to environmental pressures such as drought.” This is just one of the areas on the property nurtured to support pollinators and Hildene being proactive in the area of environmental stewardship. Newton also stresses that, “Education is central to Hildene’s mission. Pollinator related programming, specifically, is the foundation

of the Youth Education programs at Hildene and in the past two years nearly 2000 students have participated in one or more of our pollinator programs.” There’s an observation hive in the classroom as well as the pollinator habitats and gardens on property that serve as teaching labs for the programs. Most importantly she says, “It is these learning opportunities that foster in children a personal connection to the natural world and, ultimately, encourage environmental stewardship.”

If we double back, down the entrance road and turn right onto the Maple Trail, we will be cutting through the sugarbush where the trees are tapped each year, syrup is boiled and bottled, and sold in The Museum Store. At the bottom of the hill, one finds themselves at the portion of Hildene brought to the fore in recent years for its dedication to sustainability, environmental stewardship, and involvement in agricultural education, Dene Farm.

Often the question asked first is, “What is that row of mini mountains in the meadow?” Truth be told, they are an important part of a property wide composting system, a combination of windrow composting located in the pasture and large bin, hot composting on the lower level of the Dene.” Ann Hausslein, Dene Farm Manager, emphasizes the importance of composting, noting that, “All yard waste and food scraps from Hildene events are recycled and used across the property. Ultimately, everyone on property benefits from the rich compost that is the result of the process; more beautiful and healthy flowers and vegetables, and doing great service to our earth.”

It was Hildene’s last resident, Peggy Beckwith, who originally brought agriculture back to this lower portion of Hildene. She milked Jersey cows and raised beef cattle and sheep in this pasture. Farming continues today with an assortment of livestock including alpaca, sheep, cattle, pigs, rabbits and chickens. Livestock Manager and Educator, Kim Pinsonneault notes that, “The animals at Hildene are a large piece of keeping our soils healthy. With multiple species we can add organic matter back into the soil which in turn helps pull carbon out of our atmosphere. We are naturally fertilizing our pastures and gardens with our own manure and compost. Our livestock are rotationally grazed. This method helps keep our soil, pastures and livestock healthy. Everything has a purpose and works

together. We humans need to learn from the animals and nature so we can help regenerate our earth. It’s the only one we have.”

Hildene Horticulturist, Andrea Luchini, reminds us that Dene Farm also boasts an abundance of vegetable gardens, an orchard, hay fields and an apiary.

It is important to note that while farming in the Dene continues today, it is with new purpose, to teach and to protect our environment. The learning takes place in every corner of Dene Farm, most especially in the Greenhouse, as Hildene has an ongoing partnership with Burr and Burton Academy. The Dene Farm-BBA Program statement of purpose says it all, “Actively engaging students and guests on a sustainable working landscape for the purpose of creating widespread positive societal change.”

As this tour comes to an end, the important work goes on at Hildene and around the world. One of the most important criteria Hildene uses in decision making is that of sustainability – not just financial sustainability, but social sustainability and in the Dene in particular, sustainability of the environment. When we are once again safe and free to roam and explore, we hope you will come to visit Hildene and see firsthand what we have spoken of here. To learn more about Hildene, visit For updates on Spring visit Hildene on Facebook.

Crocus and Honeybee to celebrate pollinators on Earth Day
Spring at Hildene: Spring Blooms and Honoring Earth Day

Published Vermont News Guide, April 20, 2020.

This week, Hildene Horticulturist Andrea Luchini takes us outside “remotely,” to celebrate Earth Day and the beauty of nature at the Lincoln estate. Hildene is a conscious steward of its 412 acres guided by its mission: Values into Action and the importance of sustainability and conservation, a place where bees, butterflies, and birds are a priority in all land management decisions. Luchini notes, “Not only do we plant flowers to support pollinators and environmental health, we also plant them to add joy and celebration to our lives.” So, while Hildene is temporarily closed to the public, we invite readers to visualize the gardens with us!

Six years ago, a Hildene volunteer and avid gardener suggested celebrating spring with the addition of masses of daffodils around the property. Always interested in new ideas, Luchini, her team, and volunteers, committed to adding daffodils to the landscape each year. Since then, more than 10,000 daffodils have been planted: on the path to Pullman car; Sunbeam; along the mansion’s driveway; and in the Hawthorn Allee. It is Hildene’s hope that future guests will enjoy a walk among these beauties in April for years to come.

While daffodils are a beautiful and hopeful sight in spring, they don’t provide much benefit for pollinators so Luchini is quick to note that, “Spring crocus, another bulb, supports pollinators by providing them with much needed pollen in early spring when few flowers are blooming.” Crocuses have now been introduced to the landscape in the “Bee Lawn.” +-The lawn is located in front of the Youth Education Building and rightly so, given that the importance of pollinators is at the heart of Hildene natural science education programs. Education Director, Diane Newton says, “While bee lawns continue to preserve the function of traditional lawns, they have the added benefits of supporting pollinators, improving biodiversity and have increased resiliency to environmental pressures such as drought.” White, yellow, and purple crocuses are now thriving amid the grass, alongside other bee-supporting plants, such as clover, thyme and self-heal. Luchini adds, “The Hildene Bee Lawn is just one of the areas on the property that we nurture to support pollinators and take action in the area of environmental stewardship.”

While Hildene is temporarily closed to the public, the good news is there is access to its estate products online at The store is also well stocked with resources to learn about pollinators at home including books, grow kits, and pollinator houses. The Museum Store” Manager, Meghan Goodwin can assist with orders. Email

For updates on Spring at Hildene visit Hildene on Facebook.

Bumblebee approaches spring blooms
Spring at Hildene: Spring Clean-up to Support Pollinators

Published Vermont News Guide, April 6, 2020.

In the first in a series of spring updates from Hildene, Horticulturist Andrea Luchini takes us “remotely” outside, aware that during these “stay at home” days when the weather warms Vermonters are itching to work in their gardens. She suggests that when we do get out there it is important to look out for our garden allies, the small but mighty pollinators. Hildene takes seriously their plight and its 412 acres is a sanctuary for them. Luchini stresses that, “Pollinators are at the heart of all things garden and it is our responsibility to protect and care for them.”

Vermont has 275 species of native bees with different nesting and overwintering habits. Bumble bees and mining bees are ground nesters, building their nests in old mouse burrows or creating their own underground tunnels. Leaf cutter bees and mason bees make nests aboveground in dead wood or hollow stems. Butterflies also have different strategies for surviving the winter. Some, like the iconic Monarch, migrate to warmer climates, others overwinter in the cocoon stage. Some overwinter as adults, tucking themselves into thick leaf litter. There are many other insects considered beneficial for gardens, including lady beetles. These insects also often overwinter in similar places – under leaf litter, in crevices, even under tree bark – any protected place they can tuck themselves in until warmer weather arrives.

Luchini notes that, “Understanding the habits of our insect friends helps us to help them, by using responsible practices and approaching gardening mindfully.” While it is still cold, she suggests the pruning of woody plants and when cutting back perennials, do so carefully. Observe any cocoons or chrysalis that may be hanging from stems and always treat cut stems carefully. Place them in a loose pile near your compost or tie up small bundles of cuttings, hang them from your fence or a safe place, thus allowing any nesting insects to emerge when the weather warms.

Regarding raking, Luchini says, “It’s better if you can hold off on raking leaves out of your beds for now, but if you must, do so carefully. Perhaps limit the raking and instead relocate clumped piles of leaves to another area for now. Look for insect life in any form and keep it protected and safe. Wait to mulch until the weather warms.” Many groundnesting bees emerge in mid-May and mulch makes the process far more difficult.

To prioritize pollinators and other beneficial insects, new gardening guidelines advise waiting until apple trees bloom to clean up the garden. Luchini thinks it’s worth the wait adding, “Consider the reward: Once those apple trees are in full bloom, we will see the insect life we’ve carefully nurtured emerge and take flight. We can then garden in earnest all the while observing our insect friends keeping busy by pollinating our food and flowers.”

Paula Maynard_Regional Visionary Award
Hildene's Paula Maynard Receives "Regional Visionary Award"

Published January 31, 2020, Bennington Banner
by Patricia LeBoeuf

"Chamber Announces Name Change, Awards"

...Paula Maynard received the Regional Visionary Award, which is given to a person who has made significant contributions to the improvement of the business environment and quality of life in the Shires region as a whole...

To read the article in full, visit:,596153?

Brian Keefe, President, Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home
Keefe Now Hildene President

by Luke Nathan, published in the Bennington Banner, January 20, 2020

MANCHESTER — For the first time in nearly two decades, Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, has a new president.

Former state Rep. Brian Keefe assumed the position at the start of this year, replacing Seth Bongartz, who held the position since 2002. More than a year ago, Bongartz notified Hildene's Board of Trustees that he would step down at the end of 2019.

Last February, Hildene announced the selection of Keefe, who served as special assistant to the president until the start of this year.

Keefe, in an interview Monday, said the transition period served as "a great opportunity" to get to know the organization's employees, board, supporters, visitors and programs.

Although he has lived in Manchester for nearly 30 years and was familiar with Hildene, once the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, "I was not aware of all the dynamic things that go on here on a day-to-day basis," Keefe said.

Keefe said he hopes to "maintain continuity" and build upon "the great things that are going on out here already," including programs for a wide range of students.
One potential initiative would involve constructing a new pavilion to host celebratory events, like weddings and group meetings, Keefe said. The pavilion would supplant a temporary tent that is used in the summertime and would accommodate events on a year-round basis.

Keeping up with ongoing maintenance challenges at the 412-acre estate, which has dozens of buildings, is also important, Keefe said.

The new president also said the organization will be engaging with the community to help envision Hildene's future.

Keefe worked for years as a legislative assistant for Jim Jeffords, the late U.S. Senator from Vermont. He later served as vice president of government and public affairs for Central Vermont Public Service as vice president of government and public affairs. He is also a former chairman of the Manchester Planning Commission.

Contact Luke Nathan at

Fifth Grader Hudson Via wins Annual "Guess the Lincoln Pennies in the Jar"

Londonderry School fifth grader Hudson Via was the winner in the youth category of Hildene’s annual “Guess the Lincoln Pennies in the Jar” contest.  Held each year at the start of the holiday season the contest is not only fun, but also a reminder that it was President Abraham Lincoln who signed the first annual “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, designating the last Thursday of November as the official day of celebration for the country and in hopes that the Civil War would soon be over.  

Special congratulations go to Hudson. His answer was remarkably close to the actual amount of pennies (3,868), only 43 cents off with his guess of 3,826. The contest prize is 2 checks each made out to reflect the actual amount of pennies, $38.68. Hudson received his check and is pictured here holding the second check that is given to a non-profit of the student’s choosing. In this case, Hudson chose to send that check to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Upstate New York, Inc. in gratitude for rescuing the very special and loyal friend at his side, Sophie.

To learn more about Hildene, go to

Author, Larry Tye
Bestselling Author, Larry Tye Returns to Hildene

On February 16, Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home welcomes Larry Tye, former award-winning Boston Globe journalist, New York Times bestselling author, American non-fiction author, and biographer. Tye wrote Rising From the Rails, Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class in 2004 and first visited Hildene in 2007. He came to deliver the final lecture in a series of presentations focused on the Pullman company, its leadership and its workers and which supported the effort to bring the restored Pullman railcar, "Sunbeam", from South Carolina to Vermont and Hildene. The luxury rail car came off the Pullman line in 1903, the same year that construction of Hildene in Manchester began. At the time, presidential son Robert Lincoln was president of the Pullman Palace Car Company, the largest manufacturing company in the world and largest employer of African Americans in the country.

Larry Tye’s insightful preface to Rising From the Rails, hints at what he will talk about when he returns to visit Hildene, now 13 years later … “The most influential black man in America for the hundred years following the Civil War was a figure no one knew. He was not educator, Booker T. Washington or the sociologist W.E. B. DuBois, although both were inspired by him. He was the one black man to appear in more movies than Harry Belafonte or Sidney Poitier. He discovered the North Pole alongside Admiral Peary and helped give birth to the blues. He launched the Montgomery bus boycott that sparked the civil rights movement – and tapped Martin Luther King Jr. to lead both. The most influential black man in America was the Pullman porter.” For his talk, Tye plans to focus on “The Pullman porters: A 100 year legacy of rising from the rails and tearing down racial barriers.” He will discuss, “why what these amazing men did resonates today, more than ever.”

Larry Tye continues to write books and acknowledges that the porters were inspiration for two of them, his 2009 biography of a Negro League superstar, Satchel Paige: The Life and Times of An American Legend and another he just started for Houghton Mifflin: The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Satchmo Armstrong, and Count Basie Transformed America. His most recent book, out this May, also from Houghton Mifflin is Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy. In addition to his writing, Tye runs a Boston based Health Coverage Fellowship, designed to help the media do a better job covering critical healthcare issues.

This special Hildene event will take place in The Beckwith at the Welcome Center from 2:00 to 3:00pm, with a book signing and reception to follow. Attendees will also learn more about Hildene’s unique educational program: Pullman Porters: Unsung Heroes.

Registration is required. Admission is $5 for students, $10 for members, $15 for non-members, and includes an opportunity to visit Hildene’s restored 1903 Pullman car Sunbeam and exhibit “Many Voices.” The southern-most site on the Vermont African American Heritage Trail, the exhibit focuses on the experiences of the black Pullman porters and the enormous impact these men had on the Civil Rights Movement. To learn more about Hildene and its programs go to To register, please email or call 802.367.7960. Deadline to register, February 12.

Lincoln Essay Competition 2020
Hildene's Eighth Grade Lincoln Essay Competition, 2020

Each one of us finds our way to healing on our own terms and in our own time.For the past thirteen years, Hildene has administered the Lincoln Essay Competition informed by its mission: Values into Action. Using Abraham Lincoln’s legacy as touchstone, Hildene seeks to inspire young people to tackle important issues, underscoring the responsibility each of them has to help make the world a better place. The tradition continues. In December of 2019, application packets for the 14th annual Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition were distributed to teachers of 8th grade English, history, and social studies, and to librarian and homeschool networks statewide. With all materials available online at, interested students are able to enter the competition independently as well.

This year’s inspiration comes from the words of President Abraham Lincoln who said, “The legitimate object of government is ‘to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they cannot, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves’.” Students will be asked to: Identify one issue facing Vermont that you think your state government (the Scott administration and/or the legislature) should address. Describe the challenge and its negative impacts. Then explain why governmental action is appropriate, suggest one or more actions that state government should take, and explain why you think such action would improve the situation. The essay must be written with 500 words or fewer.

This competition is divided into four regions and open to all eighth grade students who live in Vermont or go to public, private, or home schools in the state of Vermont. Students enter the competition according to the region in which their school is located. Home-schooled students enter according to the region where

they live. A first, second and third place winner will be chosen from each region. In addition, the judges may choose up to four honorable mentions selected from anywhere in the state. The judging is blind and done by a distinguished panel of judges. Winners are notified by April 1 and announced on Hildene’s website.

A celebratory luncheon will take place at Hildene on Sunday, May 17, 2020. The first place winner from each region will receive $500.00, at which time their essays will be read aloud. All winners must attend the luncheon to receive their checks and certificates: Second Place, $400; Third Place, $300; and up to four Honorable Mentions of $200 each.

The deadline for admissions is Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, 2020. All essays and applications forms must arrive at Hildene on the 12th by mail or by hand no later than 4:30pm. Hildene is open 9:30am to 4:30pm daily. Emailed, faxed, and late entries will not be accepted. Please follow this link, for application materials:

If students have questions or would like to receive a packet by mail, call Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or email

Brian Keefe, left, with retiring President Seth Bongartz
Greetings and Best Wishes, from Seth Bongartz

On December 31, I will have been at Hildene eighteen years to the day. When I was about to start at Hildene, I stood in front of the Welcome Center for a photo with my predecessor, Gerrit Kowenhoven. Now, a couple of weeks before my last day as President, I found myself standing in the same place for the same photo with my successor, Brian Keefe.

I like to think Gerrit felt the same mixture of nostalgia, pride in accomplishment, anticipation of next chapter and satisfaction with his replacement I felt as this, my final photo as President of Hildene, was taken.

I will miss my day to day interaction with the superb staff of bright, motivated, thoroughly decent human beings who make the wheels turn at Hildene every day. We have worked hard and we have accomplished a lot and, in doing so, we have had a lot of fun. A lot of companies throw around the word “team.” We don’t talk about it; we live it. My time with this incredibly supportive group of people, a true team, constitutes a depth of experience I will never have again.

I will miss saying hello to our remarkable cadre of volunteers. I have developed a lot of true friendships from among the ranks of these remarkable people who give so much of themselves solely for the benefit of others.

From Nate Boone to Carol Cone to Mike Powers to Ken Moriarty, I have had the good fortune of having always supportive, dedicated board chairs. And, throughout the years, we have had so many wonderful trustees who have given so much of themselves in so many ways to create a wind at the back of the operation.

I have also developed deeply meaningful relationships with so many of our generous donors. I have never stopped marveling at how much so many care.

From staff to volunteers to board to donors, I have developed some of the most rewarding friendships of my life. That, combined with my commitment to Hildene’s place on the world stage, is why I am going to stay involved by staying in touch. You will hear from me now and then in my new position as President Emeritus and you will see me at Hildene events and perhaps just visiting in the Welcome Center.

Finally, I ask you to do for Brian what you have done for me: give him your unconditional support. Like me, his life has been about public service and trying to make his community, his state and his country a better place. Now, he has taken on Hildene as his means of making a difference. He gets Hildene; he cares about others, he wants to take Hildene to new levels of success and I’m going to do everything I can to help him make that happen.

Thank you again for your friendship and support.

Seth Bongartz

exhibit visitors_Beckwith Room_December 2019
Hildene Hosts Exhibit "Artistic Expressions in Wool"

This December Hildene hosts the traveling exhibit, “Artistic Expressions in Wool,” a collection of felted wool panels designed by Vermont artists for the 2019 Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. The competition, and resulting touring exhibit, are the results of the “Vermont Wool Felting Project” developed by Kimberly Hagen of the University of Vermont’s Agricultural Extension program. Hagen was awarded a grant from the American Sheep Industry Association through the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association, for the project and its goal of conveying the multiple uses of wool to the public at large.  Wool is also a natural and age-old alternative to the pervasive petroleum based synthetic fibers so commonplace today.  Wool roving of the same type used to produce Hildene’s own yarns was used in the creation of several of the pieces on display in this fascinating exhibit that can be viewed in the Welcome Center. 

Although The Lincoln Family Home is not an obvious stop for art lovers, Hildene’s mission, Values into Action, fully supports the premise behind the ”Vermont Wool Felting Project” and its highly artistic results. Sustainable agriculture practices are an important part of Hildene’s mission and Vermont’s economy and a way of life for many who live in the Green Mountain State and around the world.  Animal, to fiber, to utilitarian applications, to artwork –  the works on exhibit speak to their collective values.

For those who appreciate the fiber arts, history, and stories, they are bound to enjoy Hildene’s new “farm to fiber to hat story,” with the newly designed “Railsplitter Cap” available just in time for the holidays.  While the rare Lincoln stovepipe hat on exhibit in the house is silk tufted to resemble beaver fur, Hildene’s new hand knitted hats are made with one of their estate yarns, Macchiato Twist. The inspiration for the new hat’s original pattern features fence posts and rail ties and intentionally knits together past and present and the legacies of Robert Lincoln, nicknamed “Prince of Rails,” and his father, President Abraham Lincoln, famously nicknamed “The Railsplitter.”

Knitters this year will find signature luxury yarns in a variety of natural colorways, spun with fleece from Hildene’s resident flocks of alpaca and Corriedale sheep.  For those inspired to create their own felted artwork, kits are available in the store.  

Hildene is open from 9:30 to 4:30 daily.  Admission is not necessary for visiting the Welcome Center and The Museum Store.

Admission is required to tour the estate and is $23.00 for adults and $6 for children 6 to 16.  Members, volunteers and children under 6 are free.  Those who purchase the required admission receive a sticker that identifies them to staff across the many Hildene venues.  Hildene is closed December 24, 25 and 26.  For more information on the holidays at Hildene, visit

Lincoln's Stovepipe hat
Hildene Celebrates President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln signed the first annual national “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, designating the last Thursday of November as the official day of celebration for the country. The Civil War president saw this holiday as a time for a war-weary people to pause and give thanks that the conflict would soon be over.  At Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, Thanksgiving marks the waning days of autumn and signals the arrival of the festive holiday season. 

To honor President Lincoln’s role in making Thanksgiving a day of celebration for all Americans and to acknowledge the 16th President’s relentless curiosity and ability to tackle the most serious of challenges, Hildene challenges its visitors to “Guess the Lincoln Pennies in the Jar.”  The contest commences on Wednesday, November 20 and runs through Sunday, December 8, the conclusion of the annual open house weekend, Our Home for the Holidays, in The Museum Store.  Only one entry per person is allowed and no admission fee or store purchase is required to make a guess.

Youth ages 5 to 15, accompanied by an adult, are invited to stop by the Welcome Center during this time to record their estimate. The winner will be the person whose guess comes closest to the total number of pennies.  She or he will receive a check in his or her name for the actual amount and Hildene will match that amount with a check to a non-profit of the winner’s choosing (certain criteria do apply).  Adults, those 16 and older, may also participate by submitting a guess. In this case the winner may choose from any of twelve titles that comprise our recommended Lincoln reading list.  Selected by Hildene President Seth Bongartz, these books have been chosen because they illuminate Lincoln and the values that guided his Presidency, are readable and understandable for those who may not be Lincoln scholars.  The winners are announced following open house weekend. 

The Lincoln Family Home at Hildene is open daily from 9:30 to 4:30.  Admission is $23.00 for adults and $6 for youth 6-16.  Members, volunteers and children under 6 are free.  Guests are encouraged to visit Hildene’s current Lincoln exhibit located in the Lincoln Family Home. The historic site is closed November 28, Thanksgiving Day, and December 24, 25 and 26 for the holidays.  For more information visit, call 802.362.1788 or email

Nan Bambara, Advancement Director
Bambara Joins Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, as Director of Advancement

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, announces Nan Bambara as Director of  Advancement. “I’m excited to be joining Hildene, a place that’s familiar to me and to my family, and such a valuable asset to our community and beyond,” said Bambara.    

Bambara has roots in the community, having graduated from Burr & Burton Academy before embarking on a career that included the Peace Corps, as well as leadership positions in both the private and non-profit sectors in Florida, Maryland and Vermont. She most recently served as President of the BBA Parent  Association.

“Nan is coming to Hildene at an important time in our history after four decades of growth,” said Hildene President Seth Bongartz, who retires at the end of 2019 after 18 years at the helm. “Looking forward, it is important to understand that our work is never done. We can always do better and there are always more lives to touch. We are very fortunate to have generous and loyal supporters and I believe Nan is the right person at the right time to help grow our capacity.”    

Bambara embraces that Hildene’s mission, “Values into Action” is at the core of programming. “Hildene is providing education to all ages, with a thoughtful, purposeful, and age-appropriate delivery,” added Bambara. “I like that Hildene is educating the whole family, from a toddler’s first touch of a baby goat to grandparents learning how to prune an apple tree. The opportunity to support work that is making a meaningful impact on 40,000 guests annually is powerful.”    

Incoming President Brian Keefe, said “Nan will be part of the new leadership team that will continue to build Hildene’s legacy of excellence, made possible by the remarkable support of volunteers, donors, and members of the community.”

Who Grows There? A Walk in the Woods with Alan Calfee

On Friday, June 15, from 10:00 am to noon, forester Alan Calfee will lead “A Walk in the Woods.”  Calfee is principal forester for Calfee Woodland Management, a forest owner and conservationist and has been practicing forestry in the southwestern corner of Vermont for more than 20 years. He has a degree in Natural Resource Management and a Masters in Forestry from The University of Vermont.  An assessor and project forester in the early years of the green certification movement, Calfee has since garnered years of practical experience in the implementation of sustainable forest management. He is a founding member of the Forest Stewards Guild, a qualified Tree Farm Inspector for the American Tree Farm System and has been honored for his forestry work by the Society of American Foresters. Those who accompany Calfee on the walk at Hildene are certain to become acquainted with the variety and majesty of the trees that live on the 412 acre Lincoln estate, walking the trails and learning how to identify trees and what makes each species unique.  They will also see why Hildene values sustainable forest management, and why it is clearly aligned with its mission: Values into Action. 

Check in at the Welcome Center. $10 for Hildene members, $15 for non-members. Register with Stephanie by June 14 at 802.367.7960 or email

nets camp
Explore … Discover … Create … And Bee Friends … at Hildene Summer Camps

Each summer, guided by its mission: Values into Action, Hildene offers a broad spectrum of camps appropriate for children entering 1st to 6th grade.  With the first day of summer just weeks away, most of the camps are full, but there are still a few openings in three.  

Part of the fun at “Around the World Exploring Cultures through Art” camp for children entering 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade is the nature hikes, as campers make discoveries and gather materials for their art projects. They also get a unique opportunity to paint in Hildene’s beautiful gardens.  All this and more happens under the insightful guidance of Anharad Llewelyn, visual arts teacher at Long Trail School, Dorset.  Perennial favorite “Nets, Buckets and Boots” for children entering 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade, is back.  This camp focuses on insects and animals in their habitats:  river, pond and wetland … and yes boots are important! New this year is “Pollinator Power,” where the focus is on “our fuzzy bee friends,” for those entering 2nd, 3rd or 4th grade.  Campers will explore and celebrate the vital role of bees in their lives, from moving pollen from flowers to making the honey kids love.  They will taste some too! Hildene Education Director, Diane Newton leads both of these camps.  

Hildene camps are limited to 12 campers and are a week long.  All camps run from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and campers gather first at the Lowerre Family Youth Education Building before heading outside. 

For more information or to request a brochure, call Education Director, Diane Newton at 802.367.7965 or by email.  Detailed descriptions, camp schedules, fees, and printable registration forms are online.


Hospitality Award is Announced for Hildene's Paula Maynard

Berlin, VT (March 14, 2019) – The Vermont Chamber of Commerce will honor all the Hospitality Award Winners at the 36th Annual Vermont Tourism Summit on April 4th, 2019 at the Doubletree by Hilton, Burlington. 

“These awards celebrate our hospitality and tourism industry’s vast contributions to the economy and acknowledge these award winners as stand-out achievers within Vermont,” said Ronda Berns, Vice President of Tourism for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, who will be presenting the awards. “These are the individuals who exemplify the Vermont brand,” she added.

The 2019 Vermont Chamber Chef of the Year is Chef-Owner Sarah Natvig of The Black Krim Tavern in Randolph. This award recognizes an individual with a proven history of supporting Vermont’s agricultural economy using local food and products.

Sarah’s passion for cooking and using foods from the local region is reflected in her creative seasonal menus that change weekly. She has created the perfect farm-to-table restaurant, sourcing foods and products from surrounding farms as well as her very own farm, the Pebble Brook, in Braintree that she co-owns with her husband. Sarah is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute.

The 2019 Vermont Chamber Restaurateur of the Year is Brian and Karen Zecchinelli of the Wayside Restaurant, Bakery & Creamery in Montpelier. This award honors restaurateurs who continue to demonstrate excellence in restaurant operations and management.

Karen and Brian’s commitment to their staff, buying locally produced foods, the environment, community service and serving their valued customers has been unwavering at this iconic restaurant for over 20 years. Harriet and the late Eugene Galfettii entrusted their daughter and son-in-law to follow in their footsteps. Brian and Karen have carried it forward, now reaching 101 years, keeping the family traditions at The Wayside alive and well. 

The 2019 Vermont Chamber Borden E. Avery Innkeeper of the Year is Peter MacLaren of the West Hill House B&B in Warren. This award is designed specifically for individuals who continue to demonstrate excellence in the operation and management of a Vermont bed & breakfast, inn, hotel or resort, and a commitment to the growth of the local community. 

Being named Trip Advisor’s #1 B&B in the Mad River Valley, and in the top 10 for all of Vermont, is an incredible accomplishment and indicator of just how great of a property this inn is and the customer service it provides to their guests. Peter’s commitment to the local community is evident through his membership and board positions with the Mad River Valley Chamber and as an active participant with several other membership organizations to help grow Vermont and to lobby for pro-tourism legislation throughout the state.

The 2019 Vermont Chamber Tourism Partner of the Year is Paula Maynard of Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home. This award is for an individual who is a leader in supporting and promoting the hospitality industry in Vermont.

Vermont is strong because of the dedication of people like Paula. She has excelled in her multiple roles at Hildene, serving as the Group Tour Director, Press Director and Volunteer Coordinator. Her personal touch, and warm welcome to all who visit, benefit everyone throughout the state and beyond. She is a true ambassador for Vermont. She is a member of the Vermont Attractions Association board and serves on the Vermont Travel and Recreation Council, plus is dedicated to the regional branding initiative of The Shires of Vermont DMO and The Shires Byway since its beginning.


2019 Hildene Summer Camps and Youth Corps

Spring has arrived at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home and summer is just around the corner.  Guided by its mission, Values into Action, Hildene offers a broad spectrum of options appropriate for children from 1st through 6th grades.  Perennial favorites like Nets, Buckets and Boots, The Wild and Wonderful World of Plants, Farm Camp and others will return this year.  New in 2019 are Community Building & Woodland Adventures and Pollinator Power. Detailed descriptions of the camps, fees, and printable registration forms are online at 

Hildene camps are limited to 12 campers and are a week long.  All camps run from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and campers gather first at the Lowerre Family Youth Education Building before heading outside.  To request a brochure, call Education Director, Diane Newton at 802.367.7965, or email.  

Hildene Youth Corps is a two week summer program for highly motivated young people entering 7th or 8th grade. The 2019 Youth Corps project will be to construct a boardwalk within Hildene’s forested wetland to allow more people access to explore this unique and special habitat.  For more information about the Youth Corps visit or contact Youth Education Assistant, Lisa Maggio, at 802.367.7983 or by email.

Apple Tree Pruning at Hildene

On Sunday, March 15, Arborist, Joe Blair will demonstrate apple tree pruning on the grounds at Hildene. Blair will focus on two forms of pruning:  corrective pruning for ornamentals and pruning to increase productivity for apple-bearing trees.  He will demonstrate these techniques on the Lincolns’ historic apple trees.  There will be time for questions and answers throughout.  1:00 to 3:00 pm. This Hildene horticultural program is free and open to the public.  Check in is at the Welcome Center.

Hildene Announces Leadership Transition

The Trustees of Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, are pleased to announce their choice of Brian Keefe of Manchester to succeed Seth Bongartz as President, effective January 1, 2020.

Keefe will join Hildene’s staff on March 1st and will serve as Special Assistant to the President through 2019. These ten months will allow him to learn the intricacies of the operation, get to know staff, volunteers and donors, and make it possible to achieve a smooth transition next winter.

“We were attracted by Brian’s accomplished career of public service and engagement,” said Ken Moriarty, Chair of Hildene’s Board of Trustees. “We are very fortunate to have someone of his caliber available to begin working now, to succeed Seth Bongartz in ten months' time.”

Brian Keefe served many years as a legislative assistant to the late Vermont U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords. Upon Sen. Jeffords’ retirement, Keefe held a senior executive position at Central Vermont Public Service, before its purchase by what is now Green Mountain Power. He served as chair of the Manchester Planning Commission and was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives.

“As we got to know him better, it became clear to us that, in addition to his professional qualifications, Brian Keefe has lived the values that Hildene espouses,” Moriarty went on to say.

Keefe said, “I am thrilled by the opportunity to work with such a world-class organization.  Seth has assembled a talented staff, as well as an array of dedicated supporters.  Hildene is a unique place, with immaculate grounds, diverse activities and rich ideals. It makes a difference in peoples’ lives.  I look forward to joining the team!”

Said Bongartz, “I couldn’t be happier. On a personal level, I like Brian a lot and I look forward to working with him for the balance of this year. I have also watched Brian’s career unfold over the years and have been impressed by his thoughtfulness, respect for others, deep knowledge of the issues and his effective leadership skills. It is deeply gratifying to know that Brian will be here next year to do his part to take Hildene to the next level.”

Although Bongartz is stepping down as President at the end of 2019, he will remain connected to Hildene as a part-time advisor to the new President.

Hildene is the 412 acre estate and home of President Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Lincoln, statesman and successful industrialist.   The cultural heritage site is focused on 21st century social, environmental, and educational goals as seen through the lens of history, preservation, conservation and sustainability.  It’s mission: Values into Action.  Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home is open daily year round, from 9:30 to 4:30. To learn more visit


Hildene Essay Competition Submissions Due

In December of 2018, application packets for the 13th annual Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition were distributed to teachers of 8th grade English, history, and social studies, and to librarian and homeschool networks statewide.  With all materials available online here, interested students are able to enter the competition independently as well.   Each student’s essay and application must arrive by mail or by hand at Hildene, on or before President Lincoln’s birthday, Tuesday, February 12, 2019.  Hildene is open 9:30 am to 4:30 pm daily.

Throughout history, people have been forced to reckon with difficult issues and have passed through what Abraham Lincoln might call, “fiery trials.”  This year’s participating Vermont eighth graders have been asked to identify a current change agent with the following prompt: Pick one person who inspires you because they have chosen to take on a daunting societal challenge.  This challenge could be within their community, their state, their nation, or the world.  Describe the challenge this person is tackling, the actions they are taking, the character traits that compel them to act, and the lesson(s) you draw from their example.

To encourage participation from all parts of the state, the design of the competition was reconfigured. In place of one statewide competition, there are now four regions.  A first, second and third place winner will be chosen from each region. In addition, the judges may choose up to four honorable mentions from anywhere in the state.  Students enter the competition according to the region in which their school is located.  Home-schooled students will enter according to the region they live in.  

Essays will be evaluated by a panel of judges.  Winners will be notified in early April.

A celebratory luncheon will take place at Hildene on Sunday, May 19, 2019.  The first place winner from each region will receive $600.00 and each will be required to read her/his essay.  All winners must attend the luncheon to receive their checks and certificates: Second Place, $300; Third Place, $200; and up to four Honorable Mentions of $100 each. 

If students have questions or would like to receive a packet by mail, call Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or email her.


Two Birthdays … Two Destinies … Two Must See Exhibits at Lincoln’s Hildene

Within a span of 23 days this year, Americans will celebrate the birthdays of two iconic American heroes, honoring Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King on January 21, and President Abraham Lincoln on February 12.  One of the nation’s most important Lincoln sites, Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, offers visitors two insightful exhibits, “The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and the Second Inaugural” and “Many Voices.”  Both of these exhibits cast a light on the values these men shared.  While born more than a century apart, there is no doubt that both were committed to the words of the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 
“The American Ideal” focuses on what is considered to be one of the greatest presidential speeches.  In addition to President Lincoln’s words, among the many artifacts guests will encounter, is one of his iconic stovepipe hats left in existence and one of his personal bibles. 
“Many Voices”, located at the meticulously restored 1903 Pullman car, Sunbeam, features a timeline that begins in 1863 with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and ends with the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Reverend King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.  The exhibit focuses on the many voices of those involved with cars like Sunbeam: the Pullman Company, its wealthy passengers, the black Pullman porters, and the voices of Hildene guests who may be encountering, for the first time, the provocative piece of history this exhibit reveals.  
While “Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address” and Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech” are separated by nearly 100 years, both mark important eras in our nation’s history, both are compelling, and each has had a dramatic impact on the social conscience of the nation.  
Hildene guests are invited to visit presidential son Robert Lincoln’s home and exhibit; the restored 1903 Pullman car, Sunbeam and exhibit; the goat dairy and cheese-making facility; Dene Farm; The Museum Store, and the Welcome Center, where the guest experience begins. 
Hildene is open year round from 9:30 to 4:30.  Admission is required and is $23.00 for adults and $6 for children 6-16.  Members, volunteers and children under 6 are free.  Guided tours are offered daily at 1:00 with an advance reservation for an additional $7.50 per person.  Whether for the first time or for a return visit, The Lincoln Family Home at Hildene is a fun filled winter destination. Based on weather and trail conditions guests can x-country ski or snowshoe to each venue and access approximately 12 miles of ungroomed trails on natural snow.  Ski and snowshoe rentals are available for a fee and for use on site only.  To learn more, visit, Facebook, email, or call 802.362.1788


Hildene president, Seth Bongartz, to step down

Hildene president, Seth Bongartz, has announced his intention to step down as president at the end of 2019, providing the board of trustees a full year to find his replacement. Said Bongartz, “At the end of 2019 I will have been in my current role for eighteen years. We have accomplished a lot. There is a lot more to do, but I have to accept that will always be the case. I will have turned sixty-five and it is simply time for me to focus on my family, friends and personal interests in a way I haven’t always been able to.”
Laine Dunham, Hildene’s vice president and creative director, will also step down, with a slightly earlier departure at the end of September. “My time at Hildene has afforded me the extraordinary opportunity to work on a myriad of challenging projects and, in the process, to work with a passionate, talented and dedicated team of people.  I look forward to seeing the heights to which the next administration will take Hildene.” 
“Laine let me know of her plans several months ago,” said Bongartz. “She brought a lot of relevant experience to Hildene and, in addition to her brilliant design work on our new and renovated buildings, she has helped instill a higher level of professionalism to the entire operation. She has been an indispensable part of Hildene’s success.”
Kenneth Moriarty, chair of Hildene’s board of trustees, credits Bongartz and Dunham with transforming Hildene from a house museum to a thriving world-class cultural heritage site, deeply rooted in its home soil. “The Board has known that both Seth and Laine were approaching the time when they would understandably be thinking about retirement. It was a bit of a jolt when the time actually arrived but, there is nothing like going out at the top of your game.”
Moriarty further stated, “We join all friends of Hildene in gratitude for the dedication they have brought to successfully realizing the true potential of Hildene to become one of the most important Lincoln sites in the country.”
Bongartz said, “While this will be my last year, I will not be on a glide path to retirement. I plan to give Hildene every ounce of energy I have until December 31, 2019. We have a lot to do and it is very important to me to leave Hildene in the very best position possible for my successor.”
Following his retirement, Bongartz will remain connected to Hildene as a part-time consultant for the new president.

Fiber Arts Workshop at Hildene: Handmade for the Holidays

On Sunday, October 28, from 2:00 to 4:00 Hildene will offer a Fiber Arts Workshop.  After visiting the Dene Farm sheep, alpaca, and rabbits, participants will use fiber from these animals to create their own decorative felted bar of Hildene goat milk soap using   traditional felting techniques.  

Participants must check in at the Welcome Center, where transportation to the workshop will be provided.  $30 for members/$35 for non-members includes all materials.  Registration is required by Friday, October 26 and the workshop is limited to 15 participants. Contact Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or


Shared Reading of Abolitionist Frederick Douglass Fiery 1852 Speech at Hildene

At 10:00 am on July, 4, Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, will host a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s fiery 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro.”  The shared reading will be followed by a discussion led by Hildene President, Seth Bongartz, and light refreshments. The program is free and members of the community are invited to take part in the communal reading. 

On July 5, 1852, Douglass, a former slave and leading abolitionist, begged the “race question” at an event in Rochester, NY, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  “Fellow-citizens,” he began, “Why am I called upon to speak here to-day?  What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?  Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?  What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” 

By hosting such events during the celebration of this nation’s independence – its freedom from Great Britain and its tyranny – the community is invited to think about and discuss race and citizenship now, more than a century and a half later. 

Hildene joins the Vermont Humanities Council, Community Change Inc., and others in this statewide effort.  The text of this speech, as well as accompanying materials, are available online at the Vermont Humanities Council website, 
For more information, please contact or 802. 367.7960.


Is America’s Democracy in Danger?

Is America’s democracy in danger? By any measure, it would seem the tenor of current political discourse on the national level is both distasteful and divisive, giving rise to despair and worse, apathy.  With the steady weakening of faith in key governmental cultural institutions, erosion of political norms and fast approaching mid-term elections, there is much at stake. Why is this happening and how do we fix it? Is the same loss of faith in democracy occurring in Vermont?  What is required of the citizenry of this country to protect and nurture our democracy?
Members of the community inclined to take on these questions and engage in thoughtful dialogue are invited to gather under the Hildene event tent on Tuesday, September 25, from 5:30 to 6:30 with two prominent Vermont leaders for an important and timely moderated panel discussion.  This event is the third in “The Last Best Hope” series, inaugurated in 2014.  “Last Best Hope” highlights individuals who have engaged in something larger than themselves, changing the world for the better and inspiring others to answer the call to action.  President Lincoln underscored the vital importance of such engagement when he said, “We cannot escape history … we here hold the power and bear the responsibilities … we shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.”  
This year’s speakers, Sue Minter and Brian Dubie, are both familiar faces in the Vermont political landscape.  Minter, President and CEO of Special Olympics Vermont and former state representative and Secretary of the Agency of Transportation, was the Democratic candidate for Vermont Governor in 2016.  Dubie, a captain for American Airlines and strategic advisor to growing companies, was the Vermont Lieutenant Governor from 2002 to 2011 and a candidate for Vermont Governor in 2010. 
These leaders exemplify the spirit and determination required if democracy is to survive.  Dubie and Minter both put themselves on the line when they ran for the office of Governor of Vermont.  Both lost their elections and both made personal sacrifices.  Even so, both were clearly mindful of their civic responsibilities and the right of voters in our democracy to have a choice at the ballot box.  They will discuss the meaning of participation, win or lose, and why Americans must take seriously their obligation to engage constructively in the processes required for a vibrant democracy.
Following the moderated discussion, community members will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts.  “Last Best Hope” is free and open to the public.  Seating is limited and reservations are strongly recommended:  email or call 802.367.7960.  To learn more about Hildene, go to


Hildene and Pullman car, Sunbeam

Robert Lincoln, son of the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, built his ancestral home, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont in 1905. The 412 acre estate was home to three generations of the President’s descendants.  The thought provoking exhibit at the 1903 Pullman palace car, Sunbeam, paradoxically links the presidential son with his famous father.  The meticulously restored executive car came off the line during Robert Lincoln’s tenure as Pullman Company president.

The Pullman Company at the turn of the century was the largest manufacturing company in the world. It was also the largest employer of African Americans in the country, offering slaves freed by the Emancipation and the 13th amendment jobs as Pullman porters.  In spite of the exploitive environment in which they worked, these men were able to better their lives and those of their families, helping to give rise to America’s black middle class.

The interpretation at Sunbeam includes a timeline that spans the 100 years from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to the Civil Rights Movement and March on Washington in 1963 and the exhibit “Many Voices.”   The  voices are those of the Pullman Company, the wealthy passengers who traveled in its comfort, the porters who provided the impeccable service that made travel by Pullman second to none, and the visitors who, it is hoped  will, upon examining the challenging content of the exhibit, raise questions and engage in civil discourse with others about it. 

Guided by its mission: Values into Action, Hildene uses Sunbeam to present a history that is illuminating and challenging in its content, one that raises questions and one intended to stimulate and encourage civil discourse. 

The story of the black Pullman porters told in the context of the Many Voices exhibit at Pullman car, Sunbeam, places Hildene on the Vermont African American Heritage Trail.
Open daily 9:30 to 4:30 year round.


Hildene Offers Farm Chores Programs for Families

From July 8 through August 11 Hildene offers its Farm Chores programs at the Goat Dairy on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 9:30 to 11:00. From feeding and grooming goats to pitching their pens and cleaning their feeders to exploring the hay mow, it’s an up-close and personal encounter with the farm, its friendly Nubian goats in residence, and the farm staff. Pre-registration is required at least 48 hours in advance. A family with children ages 3 through 12 can register for one morning of “Farm Chores at the Goat Dairy.” The family meets the farm staff at the Welcome Center at 9:15. $20/Hildene member family of four, $30/non-member for family of four. Each additional person is $5. Children must be accompanied by an adult. To register, call 802.379.0519 or email Cancellations must be made 48 hours in advance.


Seeds and Bees
Walk and Talk: Seeds, Bees and Butterfly Needs at Hildene

On Wednesday, July 25, Hildene’s horticulturist, Andrea Luchini, and education director, Diane Newton, present a workshop on supporting bees and other pollinators in our own backyards. Participants explore Hildene’s grounds and gardens and observe native pollinators and the flowers that are most beneficial to them, discover differences between the pollinating bee and predatory wasp, and learn to save, store and germinate seeds. 6:00 to 7:30pm.  Check in is at the Welcome Center.  Register by Monday, July 23.  Free for Hildene members, $5 for nonmembers. For more information and to register, contact Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or


Community Day
Community Day at Hildene

Sunday, June 10 is Community Day at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home.  This special day is Hildene’s way of thanking the community.  The public is welcome to discover all Hildene has to offer free of charge.  Guests are encouraged to bring walking shoes so they can visit the site’s many venues:  historic home and gardens, Welcome Center and The Museum Store, Pullman car Sunbeam,  Goat Dairy and cheese-making facility at Hildene Farm, Dene Farm, floating boardwalk, greenhouse and twelve miles of scenic woodland and meadow trails.  Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic, stay for an hour or spend the day.  All visitors must check in at the Welcome Center to receive a sticker.  9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Free.


Gardens In Abundance: Variety And Beauty at the Lincoln Family’s Vermont Home

At Hildene, the 412 acre estate that from 1905 to 1975 was home to three generations of President Lincoln’s descendants, the spring and summer seasons in the gardens are both special and busy, attracting guests whose interests run the gamut from garden aficionado to environmentalist.  Guided by its mission Values into Action Hildene sees the family estate, not just as the historic site that it is, but as a pollinator sanctuary that it must be.  From forest to formal garden the goal is the same, to raise awareness that pollination is essential for plant reproduction and for ecosystems to endure.  Aware that pollinators are under siege, due to loss of habitat, pesticides and disease, Hildene is committed to becoming a property wide example of how to make a difference in reversing this dangerous trend, using responsible practices in its gardens, woodlands, meadows and farmland and creating educational programming around these issues.  

Admittedly some of the credit for the intense interest in spring is the magnificent Peony.  The more than 1,000 fragrant peony blossoms in the Formal Garden at the Lincoln’s mansion draw visitors from far and wide. The garden was designed by President Lincoln’s granddaughter, Jessie Lincoln, for her mother, Mary Harlan Lincoln in 1908.  Archival documents suggest that Robert Lincoln collaborated with his daughter in bringing the garden to life. The pattern is that of a stained glass window; the privet representing the leading, the flowers the glass. As a young woman, Jessie had seen such windows in the cathedrals of Europe as well as the parterre design in gardens. 

Proof that Hildene’s are heirloom peonies, came with the discovery of correspondence from Robert Lincoln dated Nov. 9, 1905 and bearing the following directive, “There is at the express office, Manchester Depot, a box addressed to me from Paris, France.  It contains peony roots.”  This was proof positive that the peonies were more than one hundred years old, making them centennial cultivars. Archival research also revealed that while Mr. Lincoln handled the financing, it was daughter, Jessie, who was primarily responsible for the design, placing orders and planting of the garden.  Jessie Lincoln’s plant list, which included many peonies, further confirmed the age of the garden.  The prestigious American Peony Society designated two of Hildene’s peonies, the Hildene and Jessie Lincoln, as previously unidentified cultivars. The study that led to this honor took place in the observation garden located behind the historic carriage barn, now the Welcome Center.

Hildene gardeners do not use synthetic pesticides and avoid the use of chemicals when possible.  Guided by an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM), the goal is to create healthy plants in healthy gardens. In addition to not relying on chemicals and applying compost in the formal garden when possible, more plants are intentionally left over the winter to create habitat and food for winter birds and insects.

While this garden is surrounded by spectacular mountain views, the family preferred the gardens located southwest of the house down the terraced hillside, past the apple tree and Hawthorn allees for recreation and relaxation.  The apple tree allee is a meadow and informal garden designed and planted to enhance pollinator habitat.  In addition to the commonly found pollinator and butterfly plants, milkweed and golden rod, garden browsers will find lupine, Echinacea, Agastache Giant Hyssop, and more.  
The Hawthorn Allee is the historic division between the home’s formal and informal area, referred to as the Cutting and Kitchen Gardens.  In the Lincolns’ time, the allee led to a children’s play area which included a reflecting pool and playhouse, it is now the site of the Hildene Friends Walk where volunteers who have been integral in making Hildene what it is today are honored.     
Records and historical photos indicate that the Cutting and Kitchen Gardens behind the Lincolns’ carriage barn, now the Welcome Center and The Museum Store, supplied the family with a full range of vegetables, berries and fruit.  The Plant A Row vegetable, butterfly, cutting, and observation gardens are located here, as well as a cold compost bin.

For more than a decade garden volunteers have grown hundreds of pounds of vegetables annually for the local food cupboard in the Plant A Row vegetable garden.  The cold compost bin located just behind the garden is used for vegetables and other easily broken down food scraps and garden debris. The Butterfly Garden is designed to attract different species of butterflies and thus contains a variety of nectar plants, food for adult butterflies, and host plants, food for caterpillars.  Most caterpillars depend solely on specific plants. This garden has milkweed for Monarchs, dill for Eastern Black Swallowtails, and mallow for Painted Ladies. By having both nectar and host plants there is the opportunity to observe the complete life cycle of butterflies. A variety of nectar plants, blooming at different times, is planted in order to have continuous blooms throughout the season. There are also sunning spots for basking, puddling areas, and shrubs and bushy flowering plants for shade and shelter. Hildene Horticulturist, Andrea Luchini refers to the garden as a “purposeful mess” noting that, “Pollinators and other beneficial insects need leaf debris for shelter and for the little rain puddles.  Interpretive signs identify host plants as food resources for specific butterflies.  Education Director, Diane Newton calls the Butterfly Garden, “an invaluable educational resource.”  The Soft Fruit Cage is a prime spot for pollinator enhancement. To encourage them to be there all season long, flowers that bloom in different times all during the season must be planted and others often seen as undesirable, for example the dandelions in the side bed, need to stay.  Hildene guests can now find currants, blueberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and strawberries for the tasting in addition to a cherry tree and grape trellis in the cage.

Also located in this area is the Cutting Garden, a source for a supply of fresh flowers for use by the renowned “Hildene Flower Ladies.”  These volunteers use fresh flowers from the garden, as well as their own, to create arrangements weekly that are placed throughout the Lincoln home and Welcome Center, bringing the outside gardens’ beauty inside. 

A good portion of the family’s estate is forested and Hildene’s Forest Management Plan is a model for stewardship. The protection of forests is important as pollinators and trees need each other for survival. Many flowering trees and shrubs need insect pollination for flowering and fruiting, just like our vegetable crops do.   This increases food for wildlife and biodiversity in general.  Forest edges, the transition areas between forests and fields are crucial pollinator habitat.  Hildene’s management plan also includes our 80 acres of wetlands and the protection of that very valuable area.  Wetlands are rich in biodiversity, they purify and replenish water, act as a sponge against flooding and drought, and store carbon.

The Dene Farm is a great example of this crossover and the different habitats that are all connected. The farm is located down along the Battenkill and adjacent to our wetlands.  There is also a forest buffer between the wetland and the fields.  The new farm provides the opportunity to create pollinator habitat as we develop and grow.  The farm manager, education director, and horticulturist all work together at the farm.  Some of the ideas already implemented include:  Using beneficial insects over pesticides for gardens, Pollinator habitat (specific plantings) and bobolink sanctuary, using animals to build the soil instead of adding lots of outside inputs, focus on soil diversity and soil health.

Since Hildene visits all begin and end in the Welcome Center, The Museum Store is the place to be for products that reflect the rich experience to be had at the historic site.  In the spring the shelves and tables come to life, just like the gardens, with all things floral.  From peony soaps, candles and perfumes from England, France and the United States to stationery and linens, guests’ purchases will provide them with a memory of the beautiful flower year round.  Historic Peony Seeds and fledgling plants propagated from peonies originally planted by Jessie Lincoln are also available.  New this year will be a custom designed tote bearing the peony image.  There are gardening books for young and old, garden puzzles and apparel from garden logoed tees to straw gardening hats.  What would a garden be without its trusty pollinators, so honey product and all things birds and butterfly are also available.  

Exploring Hildene’s gardens is only part of the excitement of a day at The Lincoln Family Home and estate.  Guests also enjoy visiting the mansion and Lincoln exhibit, Hildene Farm and cheese-making facility, the 1903 restored wooden Pullman palace car, Sunbeam, and the woodlands and trails that crisscross the estate. 

The Lincoln Family Home at Hildene is open daily year round from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.  To learn more about Hildene visit or find us on Facebook.


2018 Lincoln Essay Competition Winners Grappled With Meaning of Patriotism

The winners of the 2018 Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition were selected from 187 entries from Vermont eighth graders in 38 schools, from as far north as Franklin County and as far south as Windham County. In the words of Hildene President, Seth Bongartz, “Using Abraham Lincoln’s legacy as touchstone, the goal of the competition is to promote awareness in the minds of a young generation of Americans of the responsibility each of us has to do our part to make our community, our state, our country and even our world a better place.” This is an objective that fits squarely within Hildene’s mission: “Values into Action.”

In the fall of 2017 application packets for the Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition were distributed to teachers of 8th grade English, history, and social studies, and to librarian and homeschool networks statewide. All materials were also available online at

Before taking on the 2018 challenge, students were asked to grapple with the concept of what it means to be a patriotic American. This is a topic that can sometimes lead to heated debate, thus students were made aware that in his time, President Lincoln was viewed as both a traitor and a patriot. Many Americans believed his actions to abolish slavery threatened their economic livelihood and flew in the face of the Constitution and their idea of American freedom. Others came to view President Lincoln as the epitome of patriotism because he wished to preserve the Union at all costs and because he knew the Union could not allow slavery and be a true democracy with justice for all: the “last best hope of Earth.” Today the nation is again deeply divided on many issues and among them is the concept of patriotism.

This year’s young writers were asked to respond to the following prompt in 500 words or fewer: Describe a current or recent event in which the actions of the participant(s) may be viewed as patriotic by some and as unpatriotic by others. Discuss the differing points of view. What is your position and why?

Blind judging was done by a panel of judges based on the content, the student’s understanding of the subject and her or his ability to convey that understanding using good writing practices including style, composition, grammar and factual accuracy. Hildene applauds all who participated in the competition for their essays on what it means to be patriotic.

Students analyzed an array of recent incidents in which the actions of the participants could be viewed as patriotic by some and unpatriotic by others. It was interesting for the judges to read the different perspectives students held, especially when writing about the same events: the removal of Confederate statues, NFL players taking the knee in protest during the national anthem, the Women’s March on Washington, the President’s travel ban for 8 predominately Muslim countries, efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military, Edward Snowden’s actions, granting citizenship to illegal aliens who are US veterans, to name a few. They were equally impressed with the ability of eighth graders across the state to thoughtfully articulate the different perspectives as well as their own positions.

This year’s winners are: First Place, $1,000, Rebecca Cunningham, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Second Place, $750, Dahlia Rubin, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Third Place, $500, Elise Pricer, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Honorable Mentions, $200 each: Anna Diebold, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Iren Santana Hangen Vazquez, Long Trail School; Julia Keeton, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Skylar Platt, Harwood Union Middle School, Moretown; Joshua Snide, Mount Anthony Union Middle School, Bennington. Winners will be honored at a celebratory luncheon hosted by Hildene at The Lincoln Family Home on Sunday, May 20. All 2018 Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition winners will receive their awards and the first, second and third place winners will read their essays aloud. These essays will be available for viewing online at, beginning May 21, where Hildene will also list the topics addressed by the 187 participants.

To learn more about the Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition or to make a reservation to attend the luncheon, contact Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or email


Lincoln Desktop
Hildene President to Speak on Lincoln and Slavery

On Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 2:00 in the Beckwith Room, Hildene presents “The Evolution of Lincoln’s Engagement with the Issue of Slavery.” In the wake of the national celebration of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.’s January 16th birthday, Hildene President, Seth Bongartz, will shed some light on the complex thinking of one of the nation’s earliest civil rights activists, President Abraham Lincoln.

When Reverend King delivered his famous “I have a Dream Speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, he said, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow I stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation … a great beacon of light and hope to millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.” It then was, and now is, widely known that Lincoln hated slavery from the time he began to form his own thoughts as a young man and it was Lincoln who brought about the end of slavery. Yet he also long thought blacks to be inherently inferior to whites. Bongartz will explore that incongruity and focus on how Lincoln’s thinking about both slavery and the place of blacks in American society changed over the course of his lifetime, with important events such as the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, getting to know and respect Frederick Douglas and the valor of black troops in the Civil War, serving as catalysts. Bongartz will suggest a progression through which Lincoln eventually began to line up his disdain for slavery with the reality of blacks being fully entitled to the same rights and privileges afforded whites. There will also be time for questions and discussion.

This Hildene program is free to Hildene members and $5 for non-members. Check in is at the Welcome Center. General Admission is not required for attendance at this presentation. For more information visit, call 802.362.1788 or email



Canning Jars
Preserving the Harvest: Pressure Canning Workshop

On September 11 at Hildene, Jane and Ken Moriarty, who have been doing their own canning for years, will lead participants in making a simple tomato sauce in a “how-to-begin home pressure canning workshop.” Starting with how to prepare vegetables through to the finished Mason jar, participants will learn about supplies and techniques that make canning fun and easy. Beyond the two-hour basics class there will be a jar-cooling waiting period for any who wish to stay for a “do-it-yourself” guided round two. All participants will go home with a jar of tomato sauce. The workshop from 1:00 to 3:00 is limited to 15 participants. $15 for Hildene Members. $20 for non-members. To register call Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or email


At Hildene: The Perils of Pollinators ... Rethinking Your Lawnscape

On Tuesday, August 9, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm, workshop presenters Andrea Luchini, Hildene Horticulturist, and Diane Newton, Hildene Education Director, lead a presentation and discussion on native pollinators, the perils they face, and what to do to enhance their numbers in our own backyards. Following the presentation, participants explore Hildene’s grounds and gardens to observe native pollinators and see how the simple principles of pollinator conservation can be implemented into any landscape. Registration is strongly encouraged: $10 for Hildene members, $15 for non-members. For more information and to register, contact Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or Check in at the Welcome Center.


Eco Tour
Hildene Offers Summer EcoTour of the Dene

On Thursday, July 14, from 9:30 am to noon, Hildene’s horticulturist, education director and Dene Farm manager will lead a program on the ecology of Hildene’s lower meadows and wetland. Andrea Luchini will discuss the issue of invasive plants. Diane Newton will lead the group into the wetland for a hands-on activity to gain an understanding of the ecosystem and its ecological importance. Brooke Decker will complete the tour with a visit to the adjacent bird sanctuary where she will talk about meadow ecology and efforts to encourage bobolinks and other pollinators.

Registration is required. Enrollment is limited to 20 participants: $10 for Hildene members, $15 for non-members. Attendees will park at the Welcome Center and Hildene will provide all transportation to and from Dene Farm. The bus will leave the parking lot promptly at 9:30 am. Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a water bottle. The shuttle will return to the Welcome Center by noon. The rain date is Thursday, July 21, from 9:30 am to noon.
For more information and to register, contact Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or



President Speaks
Hildene President Speaks: Relevance of Lincoln's Greatest Speech

On Sunday, January 17, 2:00 to 3:00 pm, Hildene President, Seth Bongartz, will deliver a talk on Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. Bongartz will delve into the meaning, context and present day relevance of the President’s greatest speech, noting that the choice of Martin Luther King weekend for the presentation is opportune. 

While Lincoln’s famous inaugural address and Martin Luther King’s historic “I have a Dream Speech” are separated by 100 years, both mark important eras in our nation’s history, both are compelling, and each has had a dramatic impact on the social conscience of the nation. In his, Lincoln spoke the unpleasant truth that all Americans were complicit in the evil of slavery. He viewed the acceptance of this reality as a pre-requisite for reconstruction and national unity. King’s speech focused on the injustice of segregation and the unfinished work resultant of the nation’s failure to follow through on the promise of reconstruction. By so doing, both Americans selflessly faced the dangerous opposition to their positions and both paid the ultimate price. 

This Hildene program takes place in the Beckwith Room. Admission is $5. Hildene members are free. For attendees wishing to extend their visit to Hildene on that day, the $5 fee for the talk can be applied to the general admission charge of $20. 

Hildene’s guest experience includes: a visit to presidential son Robert Lincoln’s home and the exhibit “The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and the Second Inaugural;” Hildene Farm goat dairy and cheesemaking facility; and the restored 1903 Pullman car, Sunbeam and exhibit “Many Voices.” 

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home is open from 9:30 to 4:30 daily. Admission is $20.00 for adults and $5 for children 6 to 14. Members and children under 6 are free. Admission is not required for visiting the Welcome Center and The Museum Store. For more information visit or Facebook.