By Matt Ringelstetter
Since the 1960’s, more and more attention has been placed on interpreting landscapes as historically and culturally rich in their own right—not just as attractive picture frames for preserved buildings. For this reason, historic sites have paid greater attention to recreating their landscapes in a fashion accurate to the time period they wish to represent.
In the summer of 2006, a late nineteenth-century gazebo was relocated from the north side of Lincoln Cottage to the Sherman Building’s south lawn. This move was done as a first step in restoring the landscape immediately surrounding the Cottage to what it looked like when President Lincoln lived here.
The wooden gazebo has been modified a great deal over the years and moved around the Soldiers’ Home property, but the original portions were built in the gothic revival style in the late 1890’s. Tongue in groove bead boards create a skirt around the lower perimeter which gives way to a lattice style wall structure. A flat seam copper roof sits atop the decorative wooden pinnacles and moldings and is crowned with decorative cast iron cresting, a common feature within the gothic revival style. The skirt boards, along with pieces of interior and exterior trim were all removed prior to the move and put into storage. This allowed the gazebo’s structure to be more easily moved from the area north of the cottage to the south lawn in front of Sherman. The move was coordinated by David Overholt, Preservation Projects Director for the Lincoln Cottage, and was aided by over a dozen Coast Guard volunteers. In June of 2007, National Trust interns Michael Hurley, Joy Tober and Matt Ringelstetter reassembled the skirt boards and molding that had been removed, completing the relocation process.
By moving the gazebo, the landscape at President Lincoln’s Cottage at Soldiers’ Home better represents the character of the surroundings as Abraham Lincoln would have experienced them between 1862 and 1865. The move has also relocated the gazebo to an area more accessible to the residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, providing them with a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the warm summer days.
[All images are (C) 2007 National Trust for Historic Preservation]
Mr. Matt Ringelstetter is a summer 2007 intern at President Lincoln’s Cottage.