Since opening its doors to the public for the first time in 2008, President Lincoln’s Cottage (AASLH member since 2011) has been operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) as one of its “stewardship” sites. Effective January 1, 2016, President Lincoln’s Cottage will transition to a new form of governance and administration, “co-stewardship,” and will gain autonomy as President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The new board of trustees of President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldier’s Home will assume responsibility for operations and staff management while the National Trust, based in Washington, DC, will continue to lease the property from the Armed Forces Retirement Home, provide technical services and grant funding, and consult with the new entity on the ongoing preservation and interpretation of the property.
Over the past few years, the National Trust has been working to develop new models of stewardship to ensure the long-term sustainability of its historic sites and house museums, one of the largest segments of museums in the United States. One of the National Trust’s primary objectives for the 21 historic sites that it owns is to transition them to governance by boards that are rooted in each site’s community of supporters and stakeholders. As President Lincoln’s Cottage’s board has grown in strength and capacity, the National Trust anticipated that the site’s transition to co-stewardship would soon follow.
“This is an exciting day, and there are many I want to thank for making this day possible,” said Lester “Ruff” Fant, Chairman of President Lincoln’s Cottage Site Council. “The National Trust for Historic Preservation created President Lincoln’s Cottage and provided the support and inspiration that allowed it to become what it is today. The generous members of our Site Council and others have provided resources that give the Cottage financial stability that is needed for this transition. Erin Carlson Mast and our outstanding staff have brilliantly developed the Cottage as a ‘museum of Ideas’ which shows how President Lincoln’s ideals and values are important in developing solutions to the problems of our modern day world. As we move to independent operation I am confident that President Lincoln’s Cottage will achieve a greatness that is worthy of a home of President Abraham Lincoln.”
“Nobody knows what resources President Lincoln’s Cottage needs to flourish more than the local community and stakeholders, who are on-site every day,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We are delighted that President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldier’s Home has offered to step up and take the reins. They are rising to the challenge of managing and operating this important home, and preserving it for the future both as a touchstone of the past and source of inspiration for the future.”
President Lincoln’s Cottage is recognized as a leader in the field, garnering national awards for preservation, education, and museum technology. “Through our programs, 362 days out of the year, President Lincoln’s Cottage demonstrates that Lincoln’s fight for liberty is not a relic of history, but a struggle for the present and future.” said Erin Carlson Mast, Executive Director of the Cottage. “As a newly independent organization, with a wonderfully supportive, national board, we are excited by the possibilities to expand our impact on the community and be the home for brave ideas our world needs today.”
About President Lincoln’s Cottage
President Lincoln’s Cottage, “the Cradle of the Emancipation Proclamation,” is located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC. While living here for more than a quarter of his presidency, Abraham Lincoln bonded with soldiers and veterans, made crucial decisions about the Civil War, and, most notably, developed the Emancipation Proclamation his first summer in residence. His daily commute put him in regular contact with wounded soldiers and selfemancipated men, women, and children. Today, the site offers an intimate, never-before-seen view of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and private life, and new perspectives on the influential ideas Lincoln developed while living here.
Hours of operation: The Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center is open 9:30am-4:30pm MondaySaturday and 10:30am-4:30pm Sunday. Cottage tours are on the hour, 7 days a week. For more information on President Lincoln’s Cottage, visit: lincolncottage.org or call 202-829-0436.
Press release via President Lincoln’s Cottage.