Our first stop in Lexington after some advice at the visitors center was the Mary Todd Lincoln House. The Mary Todd Lincoln House is open from Monday-Saturday from 10am until 3pm and closed on Sundays. There are tours every hour with the last one being at 3pm for $12 per adult. It is the first museum to honor a first lady.
The house was built in the early 1800’s as an inn. The Todd’s bought it and lived in it for 17 years, during which it was full of children. Mary Todd being one of sixteen children. She was the daughter of her father’s first marriage, her mother dying when she was young. She lived in the house until she moved to Springfield, Illinois where she met Abraham Lincoln, married him against family wishes, and later they visited the house together in 1847.
The tour isn’t short, and can get quite hot and exhausting for those not accustomed to standing for long periods of time, especially in the hot summer. Our tour guide explained also towards the end of the tour that there is a room where for a while guests kept fainting, some blamed it on the length of the tour, heat and standing/stairs, others on a ghost who just wanted to be mentioned in the tour. Now every tour guide makes sure to mention her and they haven’t had any more fainting spells.
Throughout the house are black and white photos of what the house looked like before it was restored. After Robbert S. Todd (Mary Todd’s father) passed away the house bounced around, even becoming a brothel at one point. (A young woman who worked at the house then, Belle Brezing is said to be the inspiration of a character with a similar name (Belle Watling) in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.) In 1977 the house was found and restored into a museum.
There is a third floor but it is currently closed off. Not all furnishings in the house are original since after Robbert S. Todd’s death the family had to sell most of it due to legal problems. Some of the originals have been returned to the house. Some of what is in the house are things from the time period though not necessarily belonging to the Todd’s but others are just recreations. The guides make sure to mention original family pieces. The tour ends with a trip to the tiny gift shop and out to the parking lot (free parking) behind the house outside of the garden. If you’re curious about the time around the Civil War or about Mary Todd Lincoln it’s a good place to go. (Or if you want to visit a haunted museum)