Explore the childhood home of the wife of the sixteenth president of the United States—the first landmark to honor one of our country’s leading ladies.
Built as an inn and tavern in the early 1800s, the fourteen-room abode suited the large Todd clan. Mary was the fourth of seven born to her mother, Elizabeth Parker Todd, who died when the girl was 6. Her father, prominent businessman Robert Smith Todd, married Elizabeth “Betsy” Humphreys two years later, and they had nine children. Although Lexington comprised fewer than seven thousand citizens when the affluent family bought the residence in 1832, the town’s prosperity and culture fostered comparisons to Philadelphia and Boston.
Decorated to represent the Lincolns’ tenure in the Oval Office during the 1860s, this opulent ladies’ parlor includes carved-rosewood méridienne settees, Meissen porcelain, and White House china Mary commissioned to symbolize her patriotism.
Nineteenth-century photographs led to the belief that Mary had dark features, but an illustration in the guest room reveals her blue eyes and chestnut-brown hair.
Left: This revolving bookcase was inspired by one Thomas Jefferson acquired in France. Right: Private quarters include the master and boys’ bedroom located in the garret. A glazed ceramic panel framed in black offers a remembrance of esteemed teacher Madame Charlotte Mentelle, who taught Mary to speak French fluently.
Text Melissa Lester
Photography Kate Sears
To learn more about Mary Todd Lincoln’s childhood home, see “An Ode to ‘Molly,'” on page 67 of the October 2014 issue of Victoria.