Hildene ready for the holidays

MANCHESTER - A December visit to Hildene is a local tradition, one that provides a unique opportunity to experience the look and feel of presidential son Robert Lincoln and wife Mary's home during the holidays.

This year is no exception. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the family's 1912 Christmas at their Vermont getaway and the home is looking as it should as Robert and Mary prepare for the holiday.

The mansion's windows are candlelit and there's a fresh scent of balsam amidst floral flourishes and satin ribbon. The tree has been cut and brought in from the woods.

Its graceful boughs are hung with lovely period appropriate ornaments and candles. The grandchildren have hung their stockings from the parlor mantle, the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon wafts from the country kitchen, and in the servant's dining room a bowl of unstrung popcorn and cranberries speaks to the shared anticipation of all in the house. Festive holiday tunes from Robert Lincoln's collection of Aeolian pipe organ music fills the house. Lights, sights, sounds, and scents of the season abound at Hildene from Dec. 1 through the 31st.

Whether guests choose to visit the Lincoln family's home decorated for the holidays or to browse in The Museum Store located in the historic carriage barn, now the Welcome Center, Hildene remains the place to be during the holiday season. Admission fee is not required for visitors to the Welcome Center and The Museum Store.

From 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, visitors can tour the home with docents and staff on hand to answer questions.

On weekends local musicians bring the organ or Mary Harlan Lincoln's Steinway to life with their talents.

Guided tours are offered with a prior reservation. Guests can also visit the Rowland Agricultural Center at Hildene Farm or see the Pullman palace car, Sunbeam, weather permitting.

Admission is $16 for adults and $5 for children aged 6 to 14. Members, volunteers and children under 6 are free. Hildene will be closed on Dec. 24 and 25.

For more information on the holidays at Hildene visit www.hildene.org.


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