Historic President Lincoln’s Cottage offers exhibit on grief, solitude and family space

President Lincoln’s Cottage is a national monument on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in DC’s Petworth neighborhood on Rock Creek Church Road NW about 1/2 mile east of Georgia Ave NW.
President Lincoln’s Cottage is a national monument on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood on Rock Creek Church Road NW about 1/2 mile east of Georgia Avenue NW.

President Lincoln’s Cottage is a national monument on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in DC’s Petworth neighborhood on Rock Creek Church Road NW about 1/2 mile east of Georgia Ave NW.
President Lincoln’s Cottage is a national monument on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood on Rock Creek Church Road NW about 1/2 mile east of Georgia Avenue NW.

President Lincoln spent 1/4 of his presidency at the cottage on the grounds of what was then called The Soldiers home. On one of the city’s highest hills it gave the Lincolns a cool break from the hot and humid White House in summer. (Note that Lincoln could see the US Capitol, which is visible above the barrel of the cannon)
President Lincoln spent a quarter of his presidency at the cottage on the grounds of what was then called The Soldiers Home. On one of the city’s highest hills it gave the Lincolns a cool break from the hot and humid White House in summer. (Note that Lincoln could see the U.S. Capitol, which is visible above the barrel of the cannon.)

Historic Soldiers Home.
Historic Soldiers Home where the cottage is located is seen.

President Lincoln’s Cottage - a National Monument.
At President Lincoln’s Cottage, the family sought solitude to get away from the constant demands of the White House.

A tour of President Lincoln's Cottage Visitors Center
The cottage offers guided tours throughout the day.

A tour of President Lincoln's Cottage Visitors Center
Due to COVID-19, advance ticket purchases are recommended at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

A tour of President Lincoln's Cottage Visitors Center
The entire tour and visitor center covers 1 1/2 miles.

A tour of President Lincoln's Cottage Visitors Center
President Lincoln made some of his most critical decisions at the cottage.

At the visitors center there’s a temporary exhibit on Grief.
The Lincolns grieved the loss of their son at the cottage.

Families who helped establish the exhibit display images of their lost children.
The exhibit includes stories of families who lost children through illness, gun violence and drug use.

Families who helped establish the exhibit display images of their lost children.
Families who helped establish the exhibit display images of their lost children.

At the visitors center there’s a temporary exhibit on Grief.
The Reflections on Grief and Child Loss” exhibit at President Lincoln’s Cottage offers reflections on grief and the loss of a child.

The heart of the exhibit is a representation of a Weeping Willow Tree.
The heart of the exhibit is a representation of a Weeping Willow Tree.

The heart of the exhibit is a representation of a Weeping Willow Tree.
At the cottage, Lincoln played checkers with his son and climbed trees to get birds out of them for his son.

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President Lincoln’s Cottage is a national monument on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in DC’s Petworth neighborhood on Rock Creek Church Road NW about 1/2 mile east of Georgia Ave NW.
President Lincoln’s Cottage is a national monument on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in DC’s Petworth neighborhood on Rock Creek Church Road NW about 1/2 mile east of Georgia Ave NW.
President Lincoln spent 1/4 of his presidency at the cottage on the grounds of what was then called The Soldiers home. On one of the city’s highest hills it gave the Lincolns a cool break from the hot and humid White House in summer. (Note that Lincoln could see the US Capitol, which is visible above the barrel of the cannon)
Historic Soldiers Home.
President Lincoln’s Cottage - a National Monument.
A tour of President Lincoln's Cottage Visitors Center
A tour of President Lincoln's Cottage Visitors Center
A tour of President Lincoln's Cottage Visitors Center
A tour of President Lincoln's Cottage Visitors Center
At the visitors center there’s a temporary exhibit on Grief.
Families who helped establish the exhibit display images of their lost children.
Families who helped establish the exhibit display images of their lost children.
At the visitors center there’s a temporary exhibit on Grief.
The heart of the exhibit is a representation of a Weeping Willow Tree.
The heart of the exhibit is a representation of a Weeping Willow Tree.

Behind iron gates in D.C.’s bustling Petworth neighborhood is one of the city’s most fascinating, historic places.

On the picturesque grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home sits President Lincoln’s Cottage — a national monument, where Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president spent one-quarter of his presidency and where he worked on the Emancipation Proclamation.



“He came here, originally, we think to seek solitude and to get away from the hubbub and the constant demands put on his time. It was a space for him to be with his family. He had lost his son Willie and he and Mary and Tad (Lincoln’s youngest son) came here in an attempt to grieve and in an attempt to recover some normality,” said Michael Atwood Mason, CEO and executive director of President Lincoln’s Cottage.

The cottage is a museum and the grounds include a visitor center. Currently on display in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center is an exhibit on grief, where visitors have left remembrances of lost loved ones.

President and Mrs. Lincoln spent summers at the airy cottage, escaping the heat and humidity of the White House about 4 miles away. They also retreated to the cottage following the February 1862 death of their 11-year-old son Willie at the White House, their second son to die of illness.

“That grief really followed them around … we wanted to explore that part of the experience because our culture is not particularly comfortable talking about grief, particularly grieving parents,” said Mason.

“Reflections on Grief and Child Loss” exhibit offers reflections on grief and the loss of a child and includes a display of contemporary losses including children lost to gun violence and to fentanyl poisoning.

In the center of the exhibit is a representation of a weeping willow tree, its branches laden with white leaves; people have been invited to write remembrances of their loved ones on the leaves.

“It’s quite intimate and that’s part of the power. In a certain way it embraces you, it holds you and allows you to connect with your own grief and hold your own grief,” said Mason.

While the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall is a fitting temple to one of the nation’s most beloved presidents, the cottage in Petworth is a reflection of Lincoln’s everyday life.

“Here we try and share Lincoln in all of his complexities, so we talk about grief, we talk about him playing checkers with his son and climbing into trees to get birds out of trees for his son … Our goal is to invite people into the real Lincoln, we want to share the real Lincoln in all of his complexity and richness,” said Mason.

LOCATION:
President Lincoln’s Cottage
140 Rock Creek Church Road NW
Washington, D.C. 20011

COST
Adults – $15
Children 6-12 – $5
Children under 12 – Free
Discounts for military, cottage members and National Trust for Historic Preservation Members

HOURS
Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Advanced tickets recommended.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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