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Preserving Lincoln's Retreat and Other American Treasures

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Council on Environmental Quality

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

PRESERVING LINCOLN'S RETREAT AND OTHER AMERICAN TREASURES

July 7, 2000

President Clinton, in a visit today to the hilltop cottage that served as President Lincoln's summer retreat, will sign a proclamation designating the 157-year-old landmark a national monument. The new President Lincoln and Soldiers' Home National Monument will ensure lasting protection of the historic Anderson Cottage, on the grounds of the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home in northwest Washington, D.C. The President also will announce $15 million in grants by the Save America's Treasures program to preserve historic treasures nationwide, including a $750,000 grant to help restore Anderson Cottage .

A Little-Known Lincoln Legacy. Each summer from 1862 to 1864, President Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd escaped the stifling heat and humidity of the White House by taking up residence at Anderson Cottage on the cooler outskirts of the capital. Located on the grounds of what was then called Soldiers' Home established in 1851 as the first home for disabled veterans of the U.S. Army the cottage also served as a summer retreat for Presidents Buchanan, Hayes, and Arthur.

President Lincoln spent roughly a quarter of his presidency at Anderson Cottage, commuting the three miles to the White House on horseback or by carriage. Often, he read or relaxed beneath a magnificent copper beech tree that still stands beside the home. Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation at the cottage in September 1862, and last visited the cottage the day before his assassination.

A New National Monument. The 14-room Early Gothic Revival home remains much as it was in Lincoln's day. A portion provides office space for the Armed Forces Retirement Home, the agency that manages the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973, the stucco cottage is structurally sound but in need of repairs. In 1998, it was identified by the White House Millennium Council as a leading example of "America's Treasures At Risk." Under today's proclamation:

  • Anderson Cottage and the surrounding 2.3 acres, including the historic copper beech tree, will be designated as the President Lincoln and Soldiers' Home National Monument.
  • The Armed Forces Retirement Home will continue to manage the site, in consultation with the National Park Service, with the overriding purpose of preserving its unique historic character.
  • A plan will be developed within three years to guide care, management, and preservation of the site. The plan, which may be developed in consultation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other public and private entities, will determine how best to facilitate public access to the monument.

Preserving Other American Treasures. President Clinton also will announce $15 million in matching federal grants to preserve historic treasures nationwide, including a $750,000 grant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to upgrade the electrical, heating and cooling systems at Anderson Cottage and to restore the home to its 1860's appearance. Other grants will help restore and preserve Ellis Island, Valley Forge, Mississippi's Grand Opera House, the USS Missouri, and Central High School in Little Rock.

The 47 competitive grants are being awarded by Save America's Treasures, a partnership of the White House Millennium Council, the National Park Service, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Save America's Treasures was launched in 1998 by the President and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to highlight the importance of preserving America's heritage for future generations. Today's grants, administered by the Park Service, are in addition to $15 million for other projects approved for fiscal year 2000 by Congress, and $30 million awarded by Save America's Treasures in fiscal year 1999. President Clinton has requested an additional $30 million for new grants in fiscal year 2001.

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Preserving Lincoln's Retreat and Other American Treasures

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