Category Archives: Newsroom

New Site Under Construction

Readers of our blog:

You might be wondering why we haven’t posted much to this blog recently (our newsletter notwithstanding). It’s not because there hasn’t been plenty of Lincoln news and anniversaries. Instead, we have something exciting to announce (in addition to the fact that a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln is going to be on display in the Cottage from September 22 until February 2013!!!)

For the last two months we’ve been undertaking a complete redesign of our website, The  website combines all of the wonderful content dozens of staff members have written for this blog, with a refreshing, sleek look that is easily navigable. The result is a brand-new website that will make it even easier to: explore detailed information about the history of the Cottage, plan a visit to Lincoln’s summer retreat, and connect with us to make your President Lincoln’s Cottage experience even more meaningful. (Once the site is fully live and navigable, we’re going to shut down this blog since the current site will be routinely updated with press releases, new research, event announcements and a whole lot more.)

We’re in the middle of launching the revitalized website, with the same address of So stay tuned and bear with us as we start an exciting new chapter of President Lincoln’s Cottage’s online experience.

If you have any questions, please contact us at Thanks!

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Property Entrance Change

On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, the entrance to President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home will change to the Randolph Street gate.

Construction on the new traffic pattern at our normal entrance, Eagle Gate, will take place until November 2012, at which point Eagle Gate will be reopened and will continue as the sole entrance to the property.

For questions or concerns, please call our Museum Store at (202) 829-0436 x31231.

Directions to President Lincoln’s Cottage via the Randolph Street Gate:

entrance mapFor GPS or Google Maps Users:

Enter “300 Randolph Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20011″ to map the approximate location of the Randolph Gate entrance. This is not an official street or mailing address, but is close to the intersection of Rock Creek Church Road NW and Randolph Street NW.

RAIL: Georgia Avenue/Petworth (Green & Yellow Lines) is 0.5 miles from Randolph Street Gate and is the closest metro station to President Lincoln’s Cottage.

BUS: The H8 Metro Bus stops at “Rock Creek Church Rd NW and Third Street NW” one block before the Randolph Street Gate entrance. After exiting the bus, continue up the hill, and the gate will be on your right.

BIKE: Rent a bike from Capital Bike Share, at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Rock Creek Church Road, across from the metro station. On your bike, follow Rock Creek Church Road to Randolph Street Gate (about a 0.5 miles).

TIP: Most bus and rail employees are not familiar with specific tourist attractions along their routes. They will need to know the line, route, and stop you are looking for in order to assist you rather than the name of the site. When in doubt, contact our staff for support (202)-829-0436 x31231.

Driving from Downtown DC:

Drive north on North Capitol Street for approximately 3.2 miles. You will see the Soldiers’ Home National Cemetery on your left. At the bottom of the hill, turn left onto Allison Street. Continue onto Rock Creek Church Road, NW. Turn left into the gate at the intersection of Rock Creek Church Road and Randolph Street.

Drive north on 14th Street NW or Georgia Avenue NW (but not 16th Street). Turn right on Randolph Street NW. Randolph Street terminates at the gate to the Armed Forces Retirement Home; continue through the gate.

Driving from Maryland:

Take I-495 to Georgia Avenue southbound exit. Travel approximately 5.3 miles south on Georgia Avenue NW (you’re getting close when you pass Upshur, Taylor and Shepherd Streets). Turn left on Randolph Street NW opposite the Wendy’s. Randolph Street terminates at the gate to the Armed Forces Retirement Home; continue through the gate.

Driving from Virginia:

Take I-66 eastbound to Constitution Avenue NW. Turn left on 18th Street NW. Turn right on H Street NW. Turn left on 14th Street NW. Turn right on Randolph Street NW. Randolph Street terminates at the gate to the Armed Forces Retirement Home; continue through the gate.

Tip for Cabs:

State to your driver that you’re going to the Armed Forces Retirement Home (aka “Old Soldiers’ Home”) campus, Randolph Street entrance. Do not let your driver go to 3700 N. Capitol Street–it is not an entrance. Please use common sense: never get into a cab with a driver that is uncertain about where he or she is going. We cannot be held responsible for cab drivers who get lost.

For more information, please visit our website at

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Girl Scouts at President Lincoln’s Cottage

President Lincoln’s Cottage would like to give a special welcome to all of the Girl Scouts from around the country that have traveled to Washington, D.C. for Rock The Mall starting June 1. There are so many fun and engaging places to visit in this city and President Lincoln’s Cottage is one of them! When scouts visit the Cottage with their families, they learn about President Lincoln’s leadership during one of the most tumultuous times in American History – the Civil War. The Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home served as a great place of solitude from downtown Washington for Lincoln and was where he developed the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Cottage offers a special admission price just for Girl Scouts! Included with the Girl Scout Ticket scouts receive a President Lincoln’s Cottage patch and an activity sheet that help scouts earn one of the following badges: Listening to the Past, Communication, Folk Arts or Building Art.

CLICK HERE to purchase your ticket. Advanced ticket purchase is strongly recommended, we cannot guarantee a spot on a tour without a reservation.

For more information about President Lincoln’s Cottage, visit our website at Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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Decorating Our Fallen Soldiers: Memorial Day Past and Present

President Lincoln often walked among the graves of the first National Cemetery, just steps from the Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home.

By Curtis Harris

Today, Memorial Day often has a festive atmosphere. It serves as the unofficial kickoff for summer and vacation season as Americans enjoy barbecues and picnics. However, in the aftermath of the Civil War, Memorial Day held a solemn place in the public mind.

Around 625,000 Americans perished in the Civil War which almost equals the total number of dead from all of America’s other wars combined. Nearly every American lost a loved one in this conflict, and certainly knew someone who had, whether they were from the North or South, native-born or immigrant, white or black. To cope with this incredible loss, communities across the North began decorating the graves of their loved ones with flowers.

By 1868, this ritual was so widespread that General John Logan, head of the Grand Army of the Republic, an association of Union war veterans, proclaimed that May 30 should be the official observance across the Union for decorating the graves of soldiers. This Decoration Day, as it was then called, is the genesis of our Memorial Day.

In Southern states, the outpouring of grief was just as pervasive as both former slaves and Confederates carried out the practice of decorating graves from the war dead. In the former Confederacy, formalized decoration days normally occurred in late April or May.

By 1920, sectional reconciliation had occurred and the 30th of May was nationally recognized as Decoration Day, although, currently 9 states still observe some form of Confederate Memorial/Heroes Day. After World War II, “Memorial Day” became the preferred term for Decoration Day and in 1968 Congress officially moved the observance of the day from the fixed date of May 30th that was proclaimed by General Logan to simply the last Monday in May.

This measure symbolically linked Memorial Day not just with its Civil War beginnings but with all American wars. The day now honored all service members who had died in combat. It’s a reminder that Americans have sacrificed for each other before, during and after the Civil War and will continue to do so.

On this Memorial Day, the Armed Forces Retirement Home and President Lincoln’s Cottage will honor these persons with wreath laying ceremonies and tours of the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery.

The 1st wreath laying ceremony will occur at 11:15am at the Soldiers’ Home and a 2nd ceremony will take place at the cemetery at 12:15pm. Tours of the cemetery will take place at 11:30am and 1:30pm and are free of charge. Reservations are not required but are appreciated. Regularly scheduled Cottage Tours will also be available at the normal price of $15 for adults, $5 for children (ages 6-12), and $12.50 for active duty military. Advance purchase for Cottage Tour tickets is strongly recommended and the only way to guarantee a spot on a tour. Please visit our website to purchase tickets:

Be sure to bring a picnic lunch to relax and enjoy the beautiful grounds on the south lawn of the Cottage!

Mr. Harris is a Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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Celebrating United States Citizenship at President Lincoln’s Cottage


The children take the Oath of Allegiance as they become citizens of the United States.

By Alison Mitchell

April 24, 2012 was an especially exciting day at President Lincoln’s Cottage as we hosted our first Naturalization Ceremony at the site. 23 children from 16 countries were sworn in as United States citizens during this special ceremony in the Emancipation Room. Sarah Taylor, Washington District Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), administered a special Oath of Allegiance and presented Certificates of Citizenship to the children, ages 6-14.

Erin Mast

Director Erin Mast congratulates one of the new U.S. citizens.

Cottage Director Erin Carlson Mast gave congratulatory remarks to the children. “Lincoln believed the United States could be a symbol of hope for people around the world seeking liberty, justice, and equality. Each one of you is part of that hope,” Mast said. Following the ceremony, the children and their families received a tour of the Cottage. What a special experience it must have been for those children to hear about how Lincoln rose up the ladder and lived the “American dream” through hard work and perseverance. It is so rewarding to know that those children will now have the same opportunity!

View Erin Mast’s full remarks here.

Ms. Mitchell is the Development Coordinator at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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Cottage Featured on WETA

On Friday, October 7 at 9pm and Monday, October 10 at 9pm WETA TV 26 and WETA HD will feature President Lincoln’s Cottage in the TV special on “The WETA Guide to More Unusual Attractions.”

The Cottage isn’t usually considered “unusual” but it is certainly unique! As are the other attractions that will be featured, including Titanic Memorial, The Maine Lobsterman Statue, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the National Pinball Museum to name a few. This program will give viewers a chance to explore more of Greater Washington’s one-of-a-kind landmarks and destinations.

Watch a preview, check for repeats, and share your favorite unusual attraction at

For more information on President Lincoln’s Cottage, visit

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Last weekend to see “Being Lincoln”

Being Lincoln, the current temporary exhibit in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center will close on October 2, 2011. Visitors to the exhibit over the past year have learned more about Lincoln’s iconic image and how it shaped the way we view him today. Being Lincoln explores the world of Lincoln presenters (those who dress up like Lincoln for public presentations) and asks visitors to determine what it means to really be like Lincoln, and not just look like Lincoln. Visitors gain insight into the lives of Lincoln presenters and can participate in an interactive program where they will have the opportunity to “Lincoln themselves.” This interactive component is available online at

Being Lincoln demonstrates that while Lincoln’s iconic image makes it easy enough to look like him, Lincoln’s character and ideals are at the heart of his enduring public appeal.

Don’t miss out on this extraordinary exhibit before it closes! Open Mon-Sat 9:30am – 4:30pm and Sun 10:30am – 4:30pm.

For more information on President Lincoln’s Cottage visit

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Armed Forces Retirement Home Changes

Scott Building was gutted and the remaining building will now be demolished.

As many know, President Lincoln’s Cottage is located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) in Washington, DC. This 160 year old campus began a major modernization at the beginning of 2011 with the “Scott Project.” The Scott Building has been an integral part of the campus since 1951, but lacked certain modern amenities that would enable the staff at the Home to continue to provide the very best in senior care to the residents.

This morning at around 10:30am, the wrecking ball dropped for the first time to commence the demolition of Scott Building. The majority of the wrecking ball demolition will take place on the south side of the building, in order to limit the noise to the main campus.

President Lincoln’s Cottage will remain open for the entirety of the Scott Project. Visitors to the Cottage should be assured that they will receive the same quality experience during the project as they would at any other time. And, while the reason for demolishing the Scott Building and erecting a new structure was not based on improving this view, visitors in the future will be able to enjoy a more scenic landscape facing downtown DC.

For more information on the Scott Project, read our blog from February 2011 or visit:

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Smithsonian Museum Day

museum daySaturday, September 24, 2011 is Smithsonian Museum Day!

In the spirit of Smithsonian Museums, which offer free admission everyday, Museum Day is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums acros the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket…for free. President Lincoln’s Cottage is proud to participate this year, which means we will be offering free admission to all those that present their Smithsonian Museum Day ticket.

To reserve these special tickets visit:

For information about visiting President Lincoln’s Cottage on Museum Day, visit:

Since opening to the public in 2008, President Lincoln’s Cottage has become more and more popular with tourists, locals, school groups, etc. We ALWAYS encourage our visitors to reserve their tickets in advance, even on Museum Day. After you have obtained your free admission ticket through the Smithsonian Museum Day website, you should then call (202) 829-0436 x31232 to redeem your ticket and reserve a tour time. We cannot guarantee a spot on one of our tours without a reservation. Walk-ins will be accomodated as available.

We hope to see you at the Cottage on Saturday!

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Foreign Intervention during the Civil War

By Maura James

A Harper’s Weekly article from Saturday July 12, 1862 titled “The Ten Who Save the City” invokes a subject on the forefront of Americans’ minds 149 years ago this week.  In a section titled Foreign Intervention Again, the debates in the English Parliament and addresses by the French Emperor were repeated and Americans were reminded of the ever present threat of European intervention into their Civil War.

Today, foreign intervention is not much discussed in Civil War Curriculum.  Volumes have been written and on historic tours, such as the tour here at President Lincoln’s Cottage, the subject is addressed, but modern day visitors tend to forget the importance the threat played in the mind of the average 1860s American.  “The Ten Who Save the City” reminded readers that, though the English and French were a serious threat to the Union Cause (in July 1862 they certainly were a threat), Americans had English Brothers who spoke against tyranny and wrote for justice.  The article notes J.E. Cairnes, an Irishman who eventually taught at University College London, and his recently published book, The Slave Power, its Character, Career and Probable Designs: Being an Attempt to Explain the Real Issues Involved in the American Contest

In the introduction of a 2003 version of the book Mark M. Smith described Cairnes’ “attention to the interaction between politics and economics” (Cairnes and Smith xx).  The work was used by Cairnes to deter the English parliament from intervening on the side of the Confederacy for economic reasons.  Not only did the book conclude that Slavery was a bad practice, not morally but economically, it also argued that the South was “economically-unviable”.  It is a point on which Lincoln and Cairnes most certainly agreed.  Slavery was not an institution on which an economy could or should be based.  When Lincoln was elected in 1860 he felt if slavery was contained it would most certainly end by its own devices.  Cairnes, too, believed slavery was unsustainable because it “sped up soil erosion, discouraged the introduction of technical innovations, and stifled commerce and enterprise more generally” (“John Elliot Cairnes, 1823-1875).  The two differed on how they thought slavery should end.  Because Cairnes saw a symbiotic relationship between politics and economy, he felt the institution must be ended by government action, whereas when Lincoln was elected he felt confined by the constitution.

Perhaps the Harper’s Weekly article best surmises the importance of such voices of opposition from across the pond.  “It is not that they take precisely the same view of our struggle that we do ourselves – for in many things we differ; but that they see clearly the cardinal fact that it is a fight between Liberty and Despotism, between Class Privilege and Equal Rights” (Harper’s Weekly, July 12, 1862).  Although, Cairnes mentioned nothing of the moral evils of such an institution, the Harper’s article ended on a moral note in recognizing the shared “loyalty to human liberty which is the sole hope of mankind” (Harper’s Weekly).  A quote Lincoln himself might enjoy and endorse.

Works Cited 

Cairnes, J.E. and Smith, Mark M. The Slave Power. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia: South Carolina. 2003.

Harper’s Weekly July 12, 1862. “The Ten Who Save the City”.

The History of Economic Thought Website. “John Elliot Cairnes, 1823-1875”.


 Ms. James is a Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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