"We Could Feel Lincoln's Presence"

By Erin Carlson Mast
With contributions from Allan Gurganus and Adam Goodheart

Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, recently forwarded messages he received from Allan Gurganus and Adam Goodheart regarding the preservation work and tour at President Lincoln’s Cottage.  Both gentlemen agreed to let us share their comments with our readers.

The first contribution comes from Allan Gurganus, author of the New York Times bestselling novel Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All:

I have long been an admirer of your work. Your kindness in getting Adam Goodheart and I into the Soldiers’ Home confirms my admiration, my awe. I’ve never felt physically closer to Lincoln than I did in those rooms.  It’s as if, off-duty however briefly, he adamantly shed the burdens of state and—doing so—-left huge amounts of himself in that pastoral and homey setting. Our guide seemed so alive to the importance of the house and her privilege in revealing it.

Thank you for all you have saved and revealed.

The second testimonial was sent by Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director, C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College:

I visited Lincoln’s Cottage on Saturday morning with Allan Gurganus…we were both deeply moved by the experience. It was a drizzly and gray morning – Civil War weather – and we could feel Lincoln’s presence in those rooms. The interpretation, the guide, etc. were all splendid as well.  You have truly created a national monument there – all the more remarkable for having been hidden in plain sight for so long – and thank you for making it possible for us to experience it.

The current tour was informed in part by focus groups and formative evaluations conducted while the tour was in development.  We are currently creating an official visitor feedback survey so that visitors have a framework for submitting comments about their visit.  We’ll use the comments to evaluate the current visitor experience and determine what changes can and should be made to improve the experience for future visitors.

Ms. Erin Mast is Curator at President Lincoln’s Cottage.
Special thanks to Adam Goodheart and Allan Gurganus for allowing us to publish their comments.
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