April 2018 Newsletter


Erin Directors Photo

Dear Friends,

May is National Preservation Month and for our ten-year anniversary we’ll be showcasing some of our quirkiest and most interesting preservation and archaeological finds over the years. We’re also putting the original Cottage doors on display. They suffered a great deal of wear, tear, and…modification over time. So we had to build them anew. We kept the old ones, and invite you to come and contemplate both what Lincoln was thinking as he rested his hands on those doors each night, and the doors we need to open to make this nation more perfect for all.

When you walk through the doors of President Lincoln’s Cottage, you are entering a place where Abraham Lincoln wrestled with some of the most divisive issues of his time. We preserve this place not to gaze on its beautiful features (though they are that) but to keep this home a beacon of hope and a reminder that our country was built on the premise that there still was work to do — that even what the Founders created wasn’t perfect. Rather, we’re constantly striving for something more perfect. This past month, we hosted our fourth annual Lincoln Idea’s Forum, bringing a diverse group of experts together to discuss contemporary outcomes of Lincoln-era issues, as well the work being done to combat injustice and inequality today. It’s a thought-provoking program that takes place in the very room where Lincoln is purported to have worked on the Emancipation Proclamation. If you weren’t able to join us, you can check out the recap video on YouTube, as well as the Facebook live version.

Our programs have never shied away from tough topics, including slavery. That’s true even with our school programs, serving Pre-K thru 12th grade. Many of you might read that and think it’s a given — and it should be. Yet many in the museum field still grapple with whether and how to discuss slavery with younger students. We see it as a moral obligation to present the facts. And it’s filling a void. This year, the Southern Poverty Law Center came out with a study that pointed to “the failure of schools to teach the full impact that slavery has had on us all.” If that study told us what we had been observing, the news that a Texas middle school gave an assignment asking students to list the positive aspects of slavery gave us a concrete reminder of how improper education could warp one’s sense of history. We all understand slavery was a moral outrage. Yet there is hope. We hear empathy every day in the thoughtful questions and comments from students here for a class visit. On a recent tour, a second grader asked:

“How could Lincoln sleep, if slavery was happening?”

My colleague shared with that student that, often, Lincoln couldn’t sleep. It was a touching display of empathy from a young girl for a President who lived over 150 years ago, but demonstrated his own empathy, time and again.

We dedicate this issue to Paul Pascal, one of our most loyal supporters, who recently passed away. Paul and his wife Brenda have personal connections to this campus and were among the first to push for this to become a museum that was open to the public. We miss him.

Thank you for your support,


Lincoln Ideas Forum: “We Can Not Escape History”

Catherine Clinton, Jennifer Mendelsohn, Daryl Davis, Jonathan Blanks, Erin Carlson Mast, and David Young at the Lincoln Ideas Forum, April 13, 2018

On April 13, 2018, President Lincoln’s Cottage hosted our fourth annual Lincoln Ideas Forum. We launched this program in 2015 for the 150 anniversary of Lincoln’s last visit to the Cottage, the day before his assassination. Our goal is to commemorate the ideas he created and the work he accomplished while living here, as well as to highlight his unfinished work.

This year the forum, subtitled “We Can Not Escape History,” was inspired by Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress in 1862. In his address, Abraham Lincoln implored his countrymen that future generations would be looking back at the Civil War era:

“Fellow-citizens, we can no escape history,” he wrote. “We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves.”

Speakers included Jonathan Blanks (Cato Institute), Catherine Clinton (University of Texas, San Antonio), Daryl Davis (Jazz Musician and Social Activist), Jennifer Mendelsohn (Founder of #resistancegenealogy) and moderator David Young (Cliveden) where they discussed emancipation, mass-incarceration, hate groups, sexual assault, immigration and resistance.

For the full recap, photos, video of the Forum, and the Facebook Live follow up questions, click here.


This year marks ten years of President Lincoln’s Cottage being open to the public — celebrate with us!

To celebrate 10 years, we’ll be offering tickets at select dates for only $10.

Join us $10 admission on Monday, May 28th–Memorial Day. Stay tuned regarding details on how to sign up for the free USSAAH cemetery tours; $10 admission applies to regular Cottage tours that day.


Bourbon & Bluegrass 2018

On both Saturday May 19 and Sunday May 20, lounge on Lincoln’s front lawn, sip bourbon and enjoy live bluegrass music for our fourth annual Bourbon and Bluegrass event! All proceeds from the event go towards preservation efforts at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Help us keep this historic gem open and available to share Lincoln’s untold stories.

Tickets are on sale now!

Not only are we doubling the days and doubling the bands, but we’re offering two-day and VIP ticket options. Guarantee yourself a (shaded) spot with all of your friends to picnic, lounge, and get a front row space. Not to mention free parking, drink tickets, mint julep cups, PLC bourbon, & more! There’s just one left. Claim one now!

In Memoriam: Paul Pascal

Long-time supporters and friends of the Cottage, Brenda and Paul Pascal at Brenda’s Cottage birthday party in 2013

It is with a heavy heart that we share that our dear friend, long-time supporter of the Cottage, and Lincoln aficionado, Paul Pascal, recently passed.

Paul was a past President of the Lincoln Group of DC, one of the groups that helped raise awareness and rally support around the idea that the Cottage should be restored and opened to the public. As soon as that idea started to become a reality, Paul and Brenda became supporters of the Capital Project, and never ceased in their support of our work.

In addition to their great appreciation for Lincoln, this campus held personal meaning for them. Paul and Brenda were fond of sharing the story of how they strolled the grounds around the Cottage during their courtship many years ago.

They have been like family to our team. To honor Paul, our staff wanted to share some of their favorite stories and memories about him and Brenda, their generous support, and genuine love for the Cottage. Read those here.

THANK YOU: Best Museum off the Mall

For the second year in a row, we’re thrilled and honored to announce that we’ve been named “Best Museum off the Mall” by the City Paper’s 2018 Readers’ Poll. Thank you so much for all the votes and support. To read more, and see the other winners, click here.


Historic objects found during the restoration of the Cottage.

Anyone knows an old house contains secrets, and the Cottage is no exception. As a teaser for May — National Preservation Month — we’re unveiling some objects never seen before to the public that were found during various projects and restoration of the Cottage. Consider it a taste of what will be on display in our exhibit space in May: Hidden Objects.

Curious as to what they are, when and where they were found, and their connection to President Lincoln’s Cottage? Senior Preservationist Jeff Larry explains here.

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: How Has Lincoln’s Legacy Impacted Your life?

Inspired by our annual Lincoln Ideas Forum, where we examine and discuss Lincoln’s legacy and what it means today, we posed the question to staff: how has Lincoln’s legacy impacted your life?

It’s amazing to see how legislation enacted in 1862 still has a ripple effect today. Read on to see how each staff member has been personally affected by some of Lincoln’s policies, actions, and examples — some obvious, some less so.



Happy 100th, Ray Colvard

Long-time AFRH resident Ray Colvard

This Sunday, April 29th marks the 100th birthday for long-time AFRH resident, Soldiers’ Home history buff, veteran, retired teacher, former journalist of the Bugler (the Home’s newsletter), doting father and grandfather, and man-of-many-talents, Ray Colvard. Jenny Phillips, the External Communications Coordinator chatted with his son David–who lives in San Diego–to find out more about the man whose office used to be in what is now the Cottage’s staff library. We’ve even included some excerpts from old articles he published. Read on for the detailed interview about the long-time vet and friend of the Cottage, including the genesis for his obsession with really nice shoes.

Happy birthday, Ray!

Calling All Photographers!

Photographed by Erica Abbey, the winner of our last photo contest, 2012

Professionals, novices, and everyone in between: In honor of our 10-year anniversary year, from now until November 2018, tag photos of the Cottage using #LincolnsCottage and we might choose your photo to be the cover of our new photobiography!

Here are the rules:

  1. Take a photo of Cottage
  2. Tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with
  3. In October we’ll choose our top 10 photos, and ask followers to vote on the top two. The winning photo will be featured on the cover of our new photobiography, a beautiful publication that tells the history and story of President Lincoln’s Cottage, sold exclusively in our Museum Store. We’ll also announce it in our November newsletter.


  • C-SPAN aired February’s Cottage Conversation, featuring Kate Masur and Erin Carlson Mast discussing Masur’s latest project, They Knew Lincoln.
  • For the second year in a row, the D.C. City Paper named President Lincoln’s Cottage the “Best Museum off the Mall,” in the 2018 Readers’ Poll.
  • Karin’s Calendar, a local radio show, invited staff on to discuss the Lincoln Ideas Forum and upcoming spring programs, like Bourbon & Bluegrass.
  • Petworth News promoted Bourbon & Bluegrass, and also gave accolades for Best Museum off the Mall in a Petworth Round-up of “Best Of D.C.”
  • The Lincoln Ideas Forum streamed live on Facebook, April 13th. Check it out here if you missed it.


Support our educational programs, preservation efforts and public events by making a contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Donate online today.


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