The 1811 Houses
Manchester Village, Vermont
Former home of Abraham Lincolns 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 Lincolns 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. (Cathys husband, Jorge, is also part of the team
that keeps this inn in tip top condition)
In And Around The
Be Sure to Check
Out the Hildene property on the southern edge of Manchester. Robert
Todd Lincoln, Marys father, and Abraham Lincolns son,
built this stately home.
While you are at it, visit the Southern Vermont Arts Center, Vermonts
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
The 1811 Houses 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 Munsons hands, the propertys 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.
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 propertys 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 Marys
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 Ishams 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
Robinsons 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 inns 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 inns 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 Duffs amazing breakfasts, and the Chippendale
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.
PO Box 39, Manchester Village, Vermont
page 2: Nearby Romantic Dining