PAST EVENT: Bourbon & Bluegrass: A Party for Preservation

On Sunday May 17 from 2-5 pm, enjoy live bluegrass music, sip bourbon on the verandah, play lawn games, and support preservation efforts at President Lincoln’s Cottage at our first-ever preservation party! By & By, a bluegrass band based here in the District, will play live on the lawn. This event is sold out and tickets are no longer available.

Questions? Contact Hilary Malson at or 202-688-3729.

copyright Max Krupka WEPS3843-sm
Photo courtesy Max Krupka, Washington Executive Photography Services.

Washington Post: 3-D imaging is preserving every bit — and byte — of history

An academic team is making a 3D scan of Abraham Lincoln's cottage at the old soldiers home, in Washington, DC.“Scholars have worked for years to bring the life of Abraham Lincoln into sharper resolution. Michael Rogers thinks he can get it within five millimeters.

The professor of physics and astronomy at Ithaca College is spending a week measuring every bit — and byte — of Lincoln’s summer cottage in Northwest Washington with a 3-D laser scanner. When he and his team of two undergraduates are done, the place where Lincoln sweated out three D.C. summers and penned the Emancipation Proclamation will take on a virtual new life.”

Read the full article at Photo by Bill O’Leary for the Washington Post.

DCist: Lincoln’s Cottage Gets Digitally Scanned Into The 21st Century

dcist-01.2015“On the second floor of President Lincoln’s Cottage, next to a replica of the desk where Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, a $95,000 laser contraption sits on a tall yellow tripod… Over the next several days, [a research team led by Dr. Michael Rogers from] Ithaca College plans to scan Lincoln’s cottage—the historic landmark in Petworth, where the Great Emancipator summered during his presidency”

Read full article on Photo by Andrew Lapin for DCist.

Preservation in Progress

January 2015: We are restoring and repointing the walls of the amphitheatre behind the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center. Pictured below: Craftsmen from Federal Masonry Restoration are removing the granite capstones from the lower benches.



Cassie Myers of Myers Conservation completed her exposures of decorative painting on the south wall of the vestibule. We are awaiting her final report but thus far her work has greatly helped us understand how the decorative painting on the walls of the vestibule may have looked during Lincoln’s time. In December 2014 through January 2015, we will complete the re-grading of the north elevation so that moisture runs away from the building, reinstalling site lighting and installing a new drip irrigation system.

Interested in learning more? Contact Preservation Manager Jeffrey Larry at for more information.

Preservation Update: The Vestibule Project

By Jeffrey Larry, Preservation Manager

In 1985 renowned paint historian Matthew Mosca visited Lincoln’s Cottage, then known as Anderson Cottage, to assist the Soldier’s Home in identifying significant wall and trim finishes that could be dated to the Lincoln era of occupation. Among his many findings was evidence of decorative painting on the walls of the Cottage vestibule that appeared to imitate black walnut paneling. Mosca suggests in his report that the finishes in the vestibule may have been part of the “repairs, and refitting & furnishing” that Mary Lincoln requested and are listed in an 1864 invoice as totaling over $3000.00   

The Soldiers Home however did not have the resources to follow up on this discovery and at some point the walls were covered with protective metal panels.  Twenty two years would pass before the decorative painting was rediscovered when the metal panels were removed during the National Trust’s interior restoration of the Cottage.

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The Landscape


Robert Lautman, 2000

The landscape surrounding President Lincoln’s Cottage is historically significant for its association with the life of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The Cottage is located on the campus of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (the AFRH—historically known by many names, including the Soldiers’ Home) in the northwest quadrant of Washington, District of Columbia.

The character of the landscape surrounding the Cottage is representative of its varied history. In 1842, the property was the rural, private estate of George W. Riggs. The Federal Government approved purchase of the land in 1851 for the foundation of a home to care for veterans, called the U.S. Military Asylum. The establishment of a military asylum on the grounds of the once private estate brought a shift in form and program to the landscape that continues to evolve today with the changing needs of the AFRH. Today, the 276 acre landscape features a mix of historic and modern buildings, rolling hills, wooded paths, and sweeping views of Washington, DC.

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Archaeology at the Cottage

During the restoration of President Lincoln’s Cottage, archaeological testing was conducted to see what kinds of evidence were left behind by the Lincoln family and other residents of the Cottage.  Through archaeology, the “trash” left behind by past peoples can be used to learn more about them.  Archaeologists excavated shovel test pits (round, systematically dug holes) on the Cottage lawn and in and around the north driveway.  Test units (1m x1m squares) were excavated in targeted areas along the north façade of the Cottage and in the driveway.  Many of these targeted areas were chosen based on historic photographs and maps that showed evidence of other outbuildings around the Cottage.

Some of the test areas yielded few artifacts due to significant ground disturbances over the past century.  But others contained a considerable number of artifacts, dating from before President Lincoln’s time at the Cottage to well after his presidency.

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Cottage Preservation

In cooperation with the Armed Forces Retirement Home, the National Trust for Historic Preservation continues to preserve and develop President Lincoln’s Cottage for the public.

The Preservation of the Cottage addresses conservation issues with an emphasis on interpretive objectives. This is the most significant historic site directly associated with Lincoln’s presidency, aside from the White House, and the only site in the country through which Lincoln’s presidency may be explored in the context of his terms in office.

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Preservation Overview

The planning and scope of work for the preservation of President Lincoln’s Cottage was divided into distinct phases of investigative research, planning, and development.

The Preservation and restoration of the Cottage and rehabilitation of the Visitor Education Center has been fully documented with digital photographs, reports, and architectural design and as-built plans. An exterior restoration slideshow is available on site in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center. An online photo-history of the 7-year restoration is in development.

The Exterior restoration of President Lincoln’s Cottage was completed in April 2005. The Cottage Exterior page gives an overview of this phase of the project.

Interior preservation of the Cottage and renovation of the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center were completed prior to opening the site in February 2008, with additional landscape work taking place in spring 2008.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation was able to preserve and develop President Lincoln’s Cottage with the generous support of public and private partners. For a list of supporters and information on how you can donate to the project, please click here.

Sponsor a Preservation Day!

We would like to give a big thanks to Penn Mutual for sponsoring our March 31st Preservation Day and for making it such a big success! Dozens of Penn Mutual volunteers took time out of their weekend to help with an array of projects including laying sod, planting, mulching, paving, waxing, and painting. Veterans of the Armed Forces Retirement Home were invited to watch the volunteers get their hands dirty. Additionally, the volunteers also prepared and distributed 250 gift bags to the veterans here at the home.  Make sure to visit the Cottage soon to see the beautiful changes to the property!

In the meantime, take a look at these pictures showing these fabulous volunteers in action on our Facebook page!

Is your company, organization, or friends interested in sponsoring a preservation project at President’s Lincoln’s Cottage? Contact Sahand Miraminy at for more information!

Erin Carlson Mast, Director of President Lincoln’s Cottage, thanks the volunteers for their hard work.