MANCHESTER — As is the case at attractions nationwide this year, the guest experience at Hildene has been slightly altered to honor health and safety protocols.
But that doesn't mean there isn't a reason to visit Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home's 412-acre estate.
The destination offers 12 miles of trails, historic buildings, exhibits and abundant gardens.
A self-guided tour of Robert and Mary Lincoln's home brings the family's story to life, with informational legends in each room. Robert, the son of Pres. Abraham Lincoln, built Hildene in 1905, during his tenure as president of the Pullman Company, and this special place was home to three generations of Lincoln descendants for 70 years.
Hildene honors the president in a thought-provoking exhibit: "The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and The Second Inaugural," which includes one of the president's Bibles and one of the few remaining iconic stovepipe hats in existence.
Nestled on a promontory between the Taconic and Green mountains and located just behind the house, the formal garden is a must visit.
The garden's pattern is that of a stained-glass window; the privet representing the lead, and the flowers the glass.
During the summer months the floral hues of abundant perennials create stunning photos. Butterfly, cutting, vegetable and observation gardens; a bee lawn; and apple tree and Hawthorn allees can also be found on the estate.
The meticulously restored 1903 wooden Pullman car, "Sunbeam," is just a short walk from the house. The railcar came off the line during Robert Lincoln's tenure as president of the company.
The exhibit tells the story of the car's "Many Voices," featuring the Pullman company; high society; black porters; and Hildene's guests, as they respond to the exhibit's challenging and difficult knowledge.
The voices are portrayed within the historical context of a 100 year timeline from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to the Civil Rights Movement in 1963.
The rarely told story of the black porters and their fight for, and influence on, civil rights in the United States, places this exhibit on the Vermont African American Heritage Trail.
The Lincoln family's agricultural legacy is honored at both levels of the 412 acre estate: the goat dairy and cheese-making facility on the upper level and Dene Farm, located in the valley portion of the property.
The Dene Farm experience includes a teaching greenhouse, which is currently closed, compost facility, songbird habitat, pollinator sanctuary, and 600-foot floating wetland boardwalk. It is also home to a family of animals that includes: cattle, alpaca, sheep, chickens, pigs and angora rabbits.
The barns at the goat dairy and Dene Farm remain closed, but the farm animals may be observed from a distance and they are happy to see visitors, even from afar.
For more information, contact Hildene Education Director Diane Newton at email@example.com.
The health and safety of Hildene's guests, volunteers, staff and farm animals are paramount and all decisions regarding phased openings have been based on that priority and are in keeping with all state and federal recommendations and CDC Guidelines.
Guests must always wear face coverings and social distance when indoors.
The Museum Store located in the Welcome Center is open with a capacity of five person at a time. You'll find estate products including peony seeds, seedlings, cheeses, farm yarns, soaps, curated collection of gifts and products for all ages.
Hildene is currently open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
For more information go to www.hildene.org.