Mother Earth Living

Lincoln’s Cottage Reopens After Green Renovation

The former President’s home is now the greenest historical site in America
By Travis Brown
February 2008 Web

Former President Abraham Lincoln's cabin gets a green redesign.
National Trust for Historic Preservation


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Abe Lincoln's old stomping grounds have been greened.

The National Trust for Historic Preservations (NTFHP) has reopened the former President’s cottage and the adjacent 103-year-old Robert H. Smith Visitors Education Center after seven years of green renovations.

The visitors center even received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, making this the greenest historical site in America.

The renovation teamed focused on restoring as much of the visitors center as possible. All new materials contain recycled content and have low-VOC levels. The team also installed energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning systems and low-flow plumbing fixtures. Bioswales filter rainwater from the roof and pourous pavement was used around the building to reduce stormwater runoff.

The NTFHP encourages visitors to bike to the monument. The site features bicycle storage and a changing room. Site seers can also lessen their carbon footprint by using the provided public transportation.

Because Lincoln’s cottage was built before central heating and air-conditioning, the original builders focused on passive heating, cooling and ventilation. For instance, a large open entrance area on the north side allows the sun to heat the entire house. Thick walls, an attic and a basement help keep the cottage cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The cottage’s historical significance was neglected over the years, but in 1999 the NTFHP began to restore the building. In 2000 President Bill Clinton designated the site a national monument. The NTFHP opened the cottage to the public on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in honor of Presidents Day.

Abraham Lincoln resided in this house for a quarter of his Presidency. He made daily commutes to the White House during which he would often cross paths with Walt Whitman and returning soldiers. The President held many meetings and first drafted the Emancipation Proclamation at this retreat.

For more information, click here.

More about green history

• Learn the ancient history of soap—and find out how you can make your own soap at home.

• Did you know that wild rice is a grass? Discover the history of wild rice, and check out the many great recipes!

•  The American front porch began to disappear in the 1950s. Learn more about the history of the front porch.








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