The 1811 House’s Manchester Village, Vermont
Former home of Abraham Lincoln’s Granddaughter

by Norm Goldman
Artwork by Lily Azerad-Goldman


Travelers familiar with Vermont have often associated the charming town of Manchester Center with iron mines, marble mills, and more recently, the brand name outlet shops. They also are aware that adjacent to Manchester Center, where the marble sidewalks begin and end, is Manchester Village, once popular as a summer retreat for the rich and famous with its elegant mansions and manicured lawns.

One such elegant dwelling, that is still very much alive and breathing, is the former residence of Abraham Lincoln’s granddaughter, Mary Lincoln Isham, and her husband Charles Isham, known as the 1811 House.

As we stepped into the front door of the 1811 House the first thing we noticed was its magnificent splendor and one of the warmest welcomes we have ever experienced from innkeepers, Marnie and Bruce Duff and their daughter Cathy. (Cathy’s husband, Jorge, is also part of the team that keeps this inn in tip top condition)

In And Around The Inn

Be Sure to Check Out the Hildene property on the southern edge of Manchester. Robert Todd Lincoln, Mary’s father, and Abraham Lincoln’s son, built this stately home.

While you are at it, visit the Southern Vermont Arts Center, Vermont’s oldest cultural organization. You are sure to find something of interest from art galleries to concerts.

Into skiing? You have to venture to the nearby Stratton and Bromley Mountain Resorts.

The 1811 House’s history runs deep and it is included in the National Registry of Historic Places. We were informed by the Duffs that part of the property was probably built before the American Revolution, around 1770 by an early Manchester settler, Jeremiah French. Unfortunately, Jeremiah sided with the wrong folks, the British, during the time of the Revolution, and the new Republic of Vermont confiscated his property in 1777.

Eventually the property had been purchased by Jared Munson and for nearly a century it remained in the hands of the Munson family. After ownership passed from the Munson’s hands, the property’s ownership was turned over several times until 1905, when the granddaughter of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Lincoln Isham and her husband, Charles Isham, became the proud owners of this beautiful property. Although Charles died in 1919, Mary continued to live in the house with her son Lincoln Isham until she died in 1939.

Imagine what it must have been like when Mary and Charles moved into the premises in the early 1900s? This led to many renovations on their part including the modernization of the property’s plumbing.

The room we stayed in, the Henry & Ethel Robinson bedroom contains a unique bathroom with a large bathtub placed inside a larger Dorset Marble shower room, and a showerhead imported from England in 1905. Apparently, Mary thought it unbecoming of a lady to take showers, and she had this bathtub installed. One of the outstanding features of this room is that it has its own private balcony overlooking the magnificent rear gardens of the property, where I am told Mary Isham, who was a passionate gardener, spent many hours. Unfortunately, there is not very much left of Mary’s legacy other than two magnolias trees that are in bloom during the spring.

The room is named after the Robinsons, as they had purchased the property from Mary Isham’s estate in 1938. They opened the house as an inn in May 1939 naming the property the 1811 House, believing that the house had been built in that year as a tavern and coaching house. After the Robinson’s ownership, the property once again encountered several owners, until the Duffs came along from Evanston, Illinois and purchased it from a Mr. and Mrs. Jack Hirst.

Each of the inn’s 13 bedrooms bears the name of a local legend, and everywhere you look you notice a world of refinement depicting Federal period styling. Precious craftsmanship is visible throughout, such as the inn’s hundreds of window- panes of authentic old glass, the glass topped end tables, the mantle clock in the living room, the many portrait paintings and other works of art, and the fine china and sterling silver that are in use during the Duff’s amazing breakfasts, and the Chippendale furniture.

The inn even has an authentic cozy British Pub that Bruce with a twinkle in his eyes describes as more Scottish than British, as it specializes in more than 69 kinds of single malt Scotch Whiskies. Bruce is an expert on malt Scotch Whiskies and be sure to prod him to tell you about them. The pub comes complete with dartboard, horse brasses, pewter mugs etc, and is open to the public on a limited basis. However, guests of the inn are free to enjoy the pub at any time.

Today, the Duffs’ tender loving care is one of the principal reasons why this inn will surely inspire romance, where honeymoon couples and anniversary celebrants, or just romantics will find the 1811 House just the right prescription for a memorable getaway.

More Information

1811 House
PO Box 39, Manchester Village, Vermont
Tel: 800-423-1811
Contact Information
Finding Them

CONTINUED page 2: Nearby Romantic Dining

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