May 2019 Newsletter



Dear Friends,

May is Preservation Month nationally, but every month is preservation month at President Lincoln’s Cottage, where our work is never done. In the past year, your support has enabled us to complete projects large and small, from the repair of a door hinge to the complete removal and restoration of the cast-iron stairs leading to the Cottage veranda. This work is possible thanks to your generous support.

Sadly, this month we lost a great preservationist and one of our biggest champions, Chairman Emeritus Ruff Fant. Ruff was part of the legendary 1999 tour of the Cottage in which Richard Moe, then President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, determined something had to be done to save the Cottage. That moment set off a chain of events that resulted in the site being designated a National Monument in 2000, restored to its Lincoln-era appearance, and opened to the public in 2008. Ruff and his wife Susan were involved in the capital project and Ruff joined our Advisory Board. He later served as our Chairman throughout the transition years leading to our creation of an independent 501(c)3 in January 2016. In the fall of 2018, as part of our 10th anniversary celebration, we honored him with the new title Chairman Emeritus. He was influential in our work and had a way of framing things that gave people a new perspective. When asked why the Cottage didn’t have more “stuff,” Ruff explained our “Museum of Ideas” approach by saying you cannot put ideas in an exhibit case, they need to be out in the open, discussed, and sent out into the world to create change. We will miss him, greatly. In memory of Ruff, Dick Moe graciously wrote a reflection on Ruff’s leadership for this issue.

With appreciation,


In Memoriam | Lester “Ruff” G. Fant, III

Remembering our Chairman Emeritus

We were saddened to learn of the passing of President Lincoln’s Cottage Chairman Emeritus Lester “Ruff” Fant III last week. To honor his memory, former National Trust for Historic Preservation President and President Lincoln’s Cottage founder Richard Moe provided the following words of remembrance. Click here.


For the third straight year, readers of the DC City Paper voted President Lincoln’s Cottage the Best Museum off the Mall! We couldn’t have done it without our loyal followers. Thank you so much for giving us back-to-back-to-back titles!

Program Highlight: New Community Space Unveiled

Just this month we unveiled a totally redesigned room in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center. The new community space offers visitors a chance to relax in a vibrant new setting. Read on for an interview with Callie Hawkins, Director of Programming, who spearheaded the project.

Read the full interview here.


Cottage Conversation: DC Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French

WHEN: Wednesday June 12, 2019

Join us as Harold Holzer discusses his new book, DC Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French. 

Reserve your tickets now. 

Bourbon & Bluegrass THIS WEEK!

Our annual Bourbon & Bluegrass fest is this week June 1 & 2, 2019. This year we’re offering more time, more bands, and more activities, including: beer tastings with 3 Stars Brewery, a beard grooming station brought to you by the Barbers of Hell’s Bottom, exterior preservation tours, lawn games provided by DC Fray, a variety of food vendors, a special VIP option to hang out in the Governor’s Mansion, and more!

Don’t miss out our most popular event of the year.

Tickets are on sale now!

Questions? Email:

For more information on the event, click here.


Programs & Preservation in Progress

Last fall we reported on an upcoming preservation project to stabilize the West Balcony of the Cottage. Pictured above is the mill work of the two reproduced newel posts in the process of being marked up and receiving their beveled edge detail (in technical terms their first lambs tongue chamfer). Also seen are the floor boards and post caps that were custom milled by Senior Preservationist Jeffrey Larry.


Next month we’l be releasing our new podcast “Q&Abe.” For the first episode, we spoke with Bonnie Martin (pictured above left), a psychotherapist who used her experience working with survivors of modern slavery to help us answer the question “How could Lincoln sleep if slavery was happening?” Stay tuned to hear how moral injury and the secondary trauma of witnessing slavery impact sleep. And look for the first three Q&Abe episodes, dropping in June, with hosts Callie Hawkins and Joan Cummins (pictured above right).

News and Awards


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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