About
President Lincoln’s
Cottage

Welcome to the home for brave ideas. President Lincoln’s Cottage is a historic site and museum situated on a beautiful campus in Northwest Washington, D.C. Opened to the public in 2008, we bring President Lincoln’s nation-changing story to life through innovative guided tours, engaging exhibits, and interactive programs. Learn more about our history, mission, and impact.

Our Mission

At President Lincoln’s Cottage, our mission is to reveal the true Lincoln and continue the fight for freedom. By sharing the stories of Lincoln’s consequential presidency in a meaningful and authentic way, we plant the seeds of his brave ideas around the world so that all people, everywhere, can be free.

Our History

For more than a quarter of his presidency, Abraham Lincoln lived at what we now call President Lincoln’s Cottage. Here he made some of his most critical decisions about freedom, the Union, and the presidency. Lincoln’s experiences at the Cottage provided him and those he influenced with new and diverse perspectives on issues of freedom, justice, and humility. Learn more about the site’s unique history.

1842

The Cottage was built as a private home for banker George W. Riggs.

1851

Riggs sold the Cottage and surrounding estate to the Federal Government for the purpose of building a home for veteran soldiers.  The funds to procure the property were war booty set aside by General Winfield Scott.

1857

The Soldiers’ Home Board of Commissioners invited President Buchanan to summer on the grounds (research suggests he lived in Quarters 1, a house adjacent to the Cottage).

1860

Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th President of the United States of America.

1861

Abraham and Mary Lincoln each visit the Soldiers’ Home a few days after Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration. Mary Lincoln writes to a friend that they anticipate relocating from the Executive Mansion to the Soldier’s Home in the coming weeks.

1862

The Lincolns relocate their family to the Cottage for their first season in residence; President Lincoln began drafting and later issued the Preliminary  Emancipation Proclamation that summer. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton also stayed on the grounds.

1863

The Lincoln family once again relocated to the Cottage for the hot season, staying until the end of October, just a few weeks prior to Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address.

1864

President Lincoln and his family move to the Soldiers’ Home on July 4, 1864.  Later that summer, they were evacuated to the Executive Mansion, which was deemed safer, when nearby Fort Stevens came under Confederate attack. Abraham Lincoln wins reelection.

1865

Abraham Lincoln visited the Soldiers’ Home for the last time on April 13, 1865, the day before he was shot by John Wilkes Booth.  He died on April 15th. Mary Lincoln would later write to a friend about how dearly she loved the Soldiers’ Home and how far removed from it she felt.

1877-1882

Presidents Hayes and Arthur spent portions of their presidencies in residence at the Cottage.

1889

The Cottage is named Anderson Cottage in honor of one of the founding forces behind the Soldiers’ Home, Major Robert Anderson.

1900s-1990s

The Cottage was used alternatively as an infirmary, as a dormitory for the Soldiers’ Home band, as the first dormitory for women veterans, as a bar and lounge for residents, and as public affairs offices by the Soldiers’ Home.  Until mid-century, it was also a place where one could visit the grounds. Anna Harrison Chase, a formerly enslaved woman who freed herself by escaping to the District of Columbia after the DC Emancipation Act, visited the Cottage in her old age to sit in the place where Lincoln developed the Emancipation Proclamation.

1974

The Cottage, Quarters 1, Quarters 2, and Sherman Building (formerly Scott Building) are declared a National Historic Landmark in recognition of the national significance of the site. The property was not open to the general public.

2000

President William J. Clinton declared the Cottage and 2.3 acres of surrounding landscape the President Lincoln and Soldiers’ Home National Monument. The cottage is renamed President Lincoln’s Cottage.

2000s

The National Trust for Historic Preservation undertook an eight-year, $15 million capital project to preserve President Lincoln’s Cottage, restore the landscape, and sustainably rehabilitate (LEED Gold) a nearly 100-year old Beaux-Arts style building adjacent to the Cottage to serve as the  Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center museum and event space.

2008

President Lincoln’s Cottage opened to the public on President’s Day.

2016

On January 1st, President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home became an independent 501(c)(3), assuming governance and operations through cooperative agreements with the non-profit National Trust for Historic Preservation and federal Armed Forces Retirement Home.

A Home for Brave Ideas

We don’t just educate — we inspire. While living here, Lincoln made nation-changing decisions about the Union, freedom, and the presidency, most notably when he developed the Emancipation Proclamation. Each day, we’re reminded of President Lincoln’s legacy and the many individuals and communities who challenged him and influenced his thinking. We believe the world still needs a Home for Brave Ideas. Our commitment is to be that place.

More About
President Lincoln’s Cottage

President Lincoln’s Cottage is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) public charity, and is the only National Monument in the country that does not receive federal operating support. The site is designated a National Monument, a National Historic Landmark, and a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. As a private organization, this national treasure would not be preserved and available to the public without the ongoing support of our generous patrons. 

By the Numbers

337,000+

cottage visitors since 2008

41

awards won, including a Presidential Medal

$21.5M

invested in caring for the historic buildings and landscape

51

countries tune in to our Q&Abe Podcast

50,500+

students and 7,800+ teachers served since 2010

800,000

miles traveled by Students Opposing Slavery program members since 2013

Lincoln’s Cottage is DC’s best kept secret.

The visit to Lincoln’s Cottage changed my thinking about the way that important decisions were made by our 16th president.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Lincoln’s Cottage on two occasions and in doing so, the man became human to me instead of a distant, unknowable icon.

Anyone interested in American history should visit this site.

The story you tell is so important.

The history learned from just one visit could make up for a whole semester of classes.

There is a sacredness to this place that transcends time, religion, and politics. It is both humble in its appointments and mighty in its history.

Visit

Visit Us

Experience President Lincoln’s legacy for yourself. Learn more about our tours, programs, and exhibits, and get your tickets today.

Exhibits

We provide interactive, on-site experiences that share new perspectives on Lincoln’s presidency and its modern impact.
Learn More

Public Programs

We host a diverse array of public programs and special events that inspire the public to join us in picking up Lincoln’s ‘unfinished work.’
Learn More

Site Rental

We offer a historic venue to host events in style. Our award-winning site offers options for any type of event.
Learn More

Recognition