Saturday, July 22, 2017

VERMONT HILDENE AND STATION RESTAURANT we only pass through Massachusetts, but it belongs in this blog.
We went in quest of a senior National Parks Pass, but the entrance to the Manchester Vermont National Greenmountain area was closed.  Tough to get these passes.

We did go to Hildene for free. 

 for professional looks see these    PHOTOS FROM FACEBOOK

Another $40 value on the Clark membership, NARM level.  Hildene is a fine old house that Robert Todd Lincoln bought for his family after he earned his fortune on Pullman cars.  The last Lincoln descendent, Mary Lincoln "Peggy" Beckwith , who lived as an eccentric recluse at the house, died childless and left the house in tact with furniture and even some important old papers, so this house was as close to original as possible.
It was delightful.  Permeating the entire place were books and music.  There was an old organ with 242 rolls of music that Robert Todd Lincoln bought.  The organ piped into every room in the house and they played a couple sample pieces.  They don't use the actual rolls anymore, but transferred the roll instruction to a disc that tells the organ what to play. It was amazing ! 

Of course, the organ could also be played by hand and was.

Then in most other rooms were fine collections of books and often other music as well.

Plenty of reading areas in this house.  I suspect it was expected that if you stayed in the house, you were playing music or reading.

This was the kitchen maid's area.

The beds looked very comfortable.  Scattered around were flowers in vases that reflect the custom of the Lincoln's.  These are placed by volunteers who collect from the garden and arrange them every week.  Quite a lot of work.

Robert too to this bed as it was more comfortable during a time of physical difficulties.

Here is the children's bed.

These flowers were in a room where dominos were played.

Here in the grandchildren's room were more toys.

And a sled

This was a secretary's room with an interesting old type writer.

I was fascinated with the shapes of the stairways.  I liked that these were original and real stairways, not like those artificial show-off stairways of Twain's house.  In general, Robert Lincoln was not one to show off.  He had enough money to have build a more impressive house, but he chose this very comfortable and practical place with little ostentatious aspects.

The gardens that produced the flowers were all outlined by square cut bushes and quite fine.

Views from the garden were also wonderful

This tree is probably an oak.  It was in front of the house and looked very old, but the docent thought it had to have been planted after the Lincolns lived there because most everything was clear cut.

A car that had been used by the family was found and brought back for restoration.  The docent showed us the features, included a rumble seat and a door that opened to allow golf clubs to slide in.

1928 Franklin Roadster

Here were clubs used by the owners of Hildene.

Other interesting features included this old clock that chimed while we were there.

 This butter churn probably turned some of the butter that was made here.  Robert Lincoln sent 20 pounds of butter  month to Marshall Fields in Chicago.

In the Abraham Lincoln section were lots of old pamphets and such on Lincoln, some photos, and one of three stovepipe hats still in existence.  When he went off to Ford's theater, this is the mirror he checked his tie in.

This was an observatory near the house.

 Nearby is a restored Pullman Palace, a rich man's mode of transportation.  This one is one of the few left.  They found the shell of it in South Carolina and brought it back for a full and detailed restoration, amazing really.  There was a video of the work and it was awesome.
Sunbeam it is called.

 Here is a stained glass photo from inside.

The role of the Pullman car in history is very interesting.  It is clear that the company exploited the labor of the men it hired, many of them former slaves who had worked in the houses of rich Plantation owners and developed great skill in cooking and serving the sort of needs that folks on the railways required.  Is some ways it was an opportunity for African Americans and can be seen as instrumental in helping develop the Black middle class.  However, they were paid very low wages from which their clothes and food expenses  and perhaps rent were deducted, and they lived in Pullman, a town built for the workers.  Here too exploitation was at work. When the Pullman company lowered wages, they did not lower expenses.

Lincoln's role in all of this was supporting the company.  He amassed great wealth in his work, but it is a bit ironic that the son of the man who had greatly helped freed the slaves and improve their living conditions, worked to exploit those ex-slaves and their families in a new sort of slavery. 
Always in work there exists this issue of how much is paid to those whose labor is used.  We have it now in the battle for minimum wage.
Our guide said that the tips the Porters received were not only in money.  They were overhearing many conversations that helped them intelligently invest the money and many built up good nest eggs.  I imagine that they were privy to what now might be called "inside information"
It may perhaps be greatly changed in the future by the race of robots we create and the ease of exploiting their abilities and so not needed humans to work.  Since work is the way we distribute wealth, almost a religious principle, it will be a challenge in the future to protect the poorest among us from even greater poverty while robots create even greater wealth.

I am still researching Lincoln's views and role in all of this.  It is downplayed in most of the short histories I have found.

This article outlines how easily it would have been for Lincoln to be President.  He just did not want it.  He wanted his law practice.  

Afterwards we went to Bennington, just behind the spot where Bruce and Abigail used to sell garlic. We had a fine dinner at the Bennington Station restaurant.  This was an old train station and the still used parts of the station.  We ate in a area that was the entrance.  One of the old cars is used as a large refrigerator for the food used.
We loved the meal.  Both of us had fine, tender steaks and it came with a salad bar so it was easy to not eat the potato.  I ordered a bottle of wine that I liked.

This retails at $15 and they charged $20, so it was much less of a markup than most restaurants.

The waiter named Stephen was just grand in every way.  He even got the chef to leave the bread crumbs out of the clams casino that I ordered.  Amazing, really.



  1. The photos are just wonderful! Your description to detail made me feel as though I was right behind you and Elizabeth! Thank you!

  2. 1 always immensely enjoy Your posts and blogs Dewey! They are informative, peak and hold my interest,and are sprinkled with such great description that I find myself enjoying the lovely sights right along with You! How wonderful is that!

  3. Thanks, Lackawana Girl. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.


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