Department of Tourism
Mary Todd Lincoln House Seeks Funds to Prepare for Bicentennial
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Directors of the Mary Todd Lincoln House are seeking to raise funds to refurbish the structure and catalog its collection of artifacts in time for observance of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, which begins next February.
Officials are expecting the bicentennial to generate tremendous interest in the house and its collection, which are among seven major Lincoln sites in Kentucky. Mary Todd, who lived in the house from age 13 to 21, met and married Abraham Lincoln after moving to Springfield, Ill. She and her husband, the future 16th president, stayed in the house for three weeks in 1847 during the couple’s trip to Washington, D.C. for Lincoln’s first term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Todds’ house, located at 578 W. Main St. adjacent to Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington, is the first historic property in the nation to be restored in honor of a first lady, said Gwen Thompson, the home’s executive director. Officials expect the house, which now attracts more than 7,500 visitors annually during its March-to-November season, to experience much higher visitation during the Lincoln bicentennial, which begins February 12, 2008 and will last two years.
Needed projects include making structural repairs and cataloging the home’s artifacts, many of which are associated with the Lincolns. And increased numbers of visitors will require training of more tour guides, Thompson said.
An estimated 300,000 tourists and history enthusiasts are expected to visit Lincoln sites and attend bicentennial events in Kentucky during the two-year celebration. “We need to be prepared to manage the wear and tear that the increased visitation will bring,” Thompson said.
The house, which was built in 1803-1806, needs major improvements to its heating and cooling system, along with repairs to its interior and exterior structure, Thompson said. So far, the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government has contributed $50,000, and the Keeneland Foundation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky, the Kentucky Humanities Council and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission have also donated to the home’s bicentennial preparation efforts.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy