President Lincoln’s Cottage

Armed Forces Retirement Home, Washington, DC

Project Details

Completed 2009
32,000 sf
$15 million
National Register of Historic Places
National Historic Landmark
National Monument

The Hillier Group

National Trust for Historic Preservation

2009 USGBC National Chapter Region, LEED New Construction Major Renovation Project of the Year
2008 Mid Atlantic Construction Restoration Project of the Year
2009 Victorian Society of America, Preservation Award
2008 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation

Lincoln Cottage and the adjacent Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center (formerly Administration Building) are currently serving as the President Lincoln & Soldiers’ Home National Monument. The 34-room early gothic revival cottage (called the Anderson Cottage, c.1840) has been restored to reflect how it appeared in Lincoln’s day. In consultation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a plan was developed to facilitate public access to the monument, and to guide in the care, management, and preservation of the site. Silman’s involvement in this effort included a structural investigation and preparation of the structural section of the HSR for the cottage; design and construction administration for the cottage exterior and interior restoration phases; and renovation/adaptive reuse of the Visitor Education Center. After a review of all available documentation on the building, Silman conducted a visual survey to determine the condition of interior and exterior elements. This was followed by a probe investigation in conjunction with a borescope at historically sensitive areas. A structural analysis was also performed to determine floor and roof load capacities in preparation for its new public function. Silman included recommendations for repair and preservation/ restoration of structural elements based on its investigation. The goal of the exterior work was to restore the façade of the cottage to its original appearance and to provide a weather-tight envelope. The stucco exterior was temporarily removed and Silman investigated the masonry, and supervised its repointing/rebuilding as needed before the stucco was reapplied. The south porch was rebuilt to its smaller 1860s size and a cast iron balcony was relocated to its original location on the cottage. The wooden framing members of the roof, the south porch and a small balcony were repaired using high-grade new lumber and a combination of new and traditional joinery methods. The next phase of the project included restoration and reinforcement of the interior and provision of ADA access to visitors and staff. Structural work by Silman included live load capacity evaluations and localized reinforcement in concert with new mechanical and access services.