MANCHESTER — From now through Jan. 1, visitors to Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home can experience what it would have been like to stop by as presidential son Robert Lincoln and wife, Mary, prepared for their family Christmas 108 years ago. Based on the family’s own written correspondence, 1912 is one of the four years researchers are certain the Robert Lincolns stayed in Vermont for Christmas.
In the front hall is a traditional Christmas tree, which in 1912 would be similar to the kind of tree the Lincolns may have cut and brought from their woods. Its boughs are decorated with a combination of Victorian and Edwardian ornaments that evoke the era. The tree would normally be put up on Christmas Eve and the candles would not be lit until after midnight or until Christmas morning.
In 1912 it would have been Mary Harlan Lincoln providing the entertainment, playing Christmas music on her piano. Given the musicality of her children, she’d likely have gathered the family around her to sing carols and hymns before the stockings were hung by the Lincoln grandchildren: Bud (8), Peggy (14), and cousin Linc (20) at the time.
Visitors can see some or all of the Lincoln family’s estate, including the home; the goat dairy and cheese-making facility; the Pullman palace car, Sunbeam; and Dene Farm. The Museum Store, located in the Welcome Center, is also a popular destination for holiday shoppers.
Hildene is open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information and COVID protocols, go to https://hildene.org/visiting/hours. Admission is not required for The Museum Store. Admission is required to tour the estate — $23 for adults and $6 for children ages 6 to 16. Members and children under 6 are free. Hildene is closed December 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26.