Hildene’s abundant gardens may be settling into their winter sleep in late September, but the pace of activity across the 412 acre estate, between then and the first day of winter, December 21, is anything but sleepy.
Dene Farm, the lower portion of the property, has been returned to agriculture, as it was used during the Lincoln years. After more than 3 decades, this year the Lincoln family’s farmland will once again be harvested and grazed. In addition, a bin system for large scale composting and a 160’ by 30’ year round teaching greenhouse are under construction and slated for completion before year’s end, testimony to Hildene’s 21st century commitment to agricultural and ecological sustainability and education.
Through mid-October, guests can access Dene Farm on foot, by tram departing from the Welcome Center on the hour or for an additional fee of $10 take a guided tour by wagon ride at 2:00 daily. When the snow flies boots, snowshoes or x-country skis are the recommended modes of transportation. Autumn is a time of unparalleled beauty in the surrounding Green and Taconic Mountains and as the holiday season approaches, the harvest décor fades like the leaves of autumn and the Christmas trimmings begin to appear.
From December 4 through January 4 it looks to guests as it would have as Robert and Mary prepared for Christmas Eve 1912 more than 100 years ago. The mansion’s windows are candlelit and there’s a fresh scent of balsam amidst floral flourishes and satin ribbon. A selection of holiday tunes from Robert’s collection of Aeolian pipe organ music fills the house daily and on weekends local musicians bring the organ or Mary Harlan Lincoln’s Steinway to life. The tree has been cut and brought in from the woods and its graceful boughs hung with lovely period appropriate ornaments and candles. Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6, dressed in all its finery, and complete with food tastings, The Museum Store at Hildene welcomes neighbors and new friends alike to its annual “Home for the Holidays” open house in the Welcome Center.
No Hildene experience is complete without a visit to the Pullman car, Sunbeam and exhibit, Many Voices, a site on Vermont’s African American Heritage Trail and the Hildene goat dairy and cheese-making facility. Solar powered, it is a model for small scale sustainable farming practices.
Open daily 9:30 to 4:30, docents and staff are available at each site to answer questions about the venue and Hildene’s mission: Values into Action. Admission is $18.00 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 14. Members, volunteers and children under 6 are free. Self-guided are tours included in general admission. Reservations required for guided tours of the home.
Go to www.hildene.org for general or tour information. Call 802.362.1788 or email email@example.com.