Celebrate a presidential holiday at Hildene
Journal StaffMANCHESTER — Hildene is prepared to welcome the arrival of the festive holiday season. This year from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, guests will experience Christmas Eve 1912 at Hildene, and the home looks as it would have as Robert and Mary prepared for the holidays more than 100 years ago.Each year on the first weekend of December the community and visitors from near and far are welcomed for the store's open house, "Our House for the Holidays."The Museum Store, located in the Welcome Center housed in the historic carriage barn at Hildene, has always been a popular destination for holiday shoppers. Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, was built by the Presidential son, Robert Lincoln and wife Mary in 1905, after his successful career as attorney and statesman and while he was president of the Pullman Company, the largest manufacturing company in the world at that time.This year, in addition to experiencing the family's Vermont home, guests have the chance to view a timely exhibit focused on Robert Lincoln's famous father, "The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and the Second Inaugural."Among the artifacts on display are one of the President's personal bibles and one of only three of his iconic stovepipe hats in existence.The store is filled to the brim with Vermont products and items inspired by Lincoln family history, the estate's natural environment, gardens and life on the farm. An ever-growing line of Hildene product includes new items available in limited quantities: "Maple Rum Leaf," a soft-ripened, bloomy rind cheese wrapped in rum soaked maple leaves harvested from Hildene, undyed natural yarn made of fibers from Hildene's alpacas and sheep, goat's milk soap with assorted natural scents, and from the bees, beeswax lip balm, salve, and estate honey, and historic Hildene peony seeds.An expanded student-focused section features new choices for children with activity-oriented books, games and project kits on diverse topics from bees and bugs to environmental science, recycling and sustainability. Each year Hildene adds a bit of 21st-century fun to the celebration of the holiday, acknowledging Abe's relentless curiosity and ability to tackle the most serious of challenges, with its annual "Guess the Lincoln Pennies in the Jar" contest, which runs through Sunday, Dec. 2.The nonprofit Friends of Hildene who saved this historic site in 1978, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, so the pennies will be placed in four jars, each representing a decade. Only one guess of how many total pennies there are per person is allowed. There are adult and youth categories and no admission fee or store purchase is required to submit a guess.Rules and a description of the prizes are available in the Welcome Center. Guests can participate in the contest through Sunday, the last day of The Museum Store's annual open house weekend, Our House for the Holidays.No visit to Hildene is complete without a visit to Pullman car, Sunbeam, the Goat Dairy and cheese-making facility, Dene Farm and weather permitting a walk on the site's 12 miles of scenic trails.
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