Poet Walt Whitman, who was living on Vermont Avenue near the White House in 1863, often saw the president riding to or from Soldiers' Home. He wrote in The New York Times, "Mr. LINCOLN generally rides a good-sized easy-going gray horse, is dressed in plain black, somewhat rusty and dusty; wears a black stiff hat, and looks about as ordinary in attire, &c., as the commonest man...I saw very plainly the President's dark brown face, with the deep cut lines, the eyes, &c., always to me with a deep latent sadness in the expression." Whitman quoted this article in his 1876 book Memoranda During the War, adding the phrase: "We have got so that we always exchange bows, and very cordial ones."
Lincoln Cottage, February 1975
The Soldiers' Home stands on 251 acres (1.02 km2) atop the third highest point in Washington. The Home was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 7, 1973, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 1974. In 2000, the cottage was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 Most Endangered list. Then about 2.3 acres (9,300 m2) of the Home was proclaimed a National Monument by President Bill Clinton on July 7, 2000. The National Trust took on the restoration which was completed in 2007. The Cottage exterior was restored to the period of Lincoln's occupancy in the 1860s in a joint venture by the Philadelphia firm J. S. Cornell & Son, and Stephen Ortado, Historic Structures, according to the standards of the National Park Service. Today it is managed through a cooperative agreement between the Armed Forces Retirement Home and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
President Lincoln's Cottage opened to the public on February 18, 2008, as a National Trust historic site. A reproduction of the Lincoln desk on which he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation was commissioned by the Trust for use in the Cottage. The original drop-lid walnut paneled desk is in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House. The desk is the only surviving piece of furniture that is known to have been placed in the White House and the Cottage during the Lincoln era.
The adjacent Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center features exhibits about the Soldiers' Home, wartime Washington, D.C., Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief during the Civil War, and a special exhibit gallery. President Lincoln's Cottage and Visitor Education Center is open to the public for tours seven days a week.