Lincoln's Private Getaway Reopens

a reproduction of Lincoln's desk at President Abraham Lincoln's Cottage located on the grounds of the Soldier's Home
Interior showing a reproduction of Lincoln's desk at President Abraham Lincoln's Cottage located on the grounds of the Soldier's Home, in Washington, Monday, Feb. 18, 2008, during a grand opening ceremony. The 34-room Gothic Revival style house is located three-miles north of the White House, and Lincoln and his family moved here in 1862 to escape the heat, congestion and noise of wartime Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Tormented by civil war, dogged by political pressures and the oppressive summer heat of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln sought refuge.

He found it in a breezy cottage on the grounds of the Old Soldiers' Home, just three miles - a short horseback ride away - from the White House.

While it overlooked a cemetery full of Civil War dead, it became Lincoln's summer place, a retreat where the embattled President went to think.

Here Lincoln worked on the Emancipation Proclamation. And it was here he spent 13 months, a full fourth of his Presidency.

Now, Richard Moe of the National Trust for Historic Preservation hopes his ten-year dream to restore this forgotten Lincoln Memorial will inspire.

"We believe the place can tell stories," Moe told CBS News correspondent Bob Orr. "It's one thing to read history; it's another thing to walk through and touch it and feel it. It really comes alive in a different kind of way. And that's what happens when you walk through this cottage. Abraham Lincoln comes alive."

After $15 million and seven years of work, the old Lincoln getaway was re-opened today: 34 sparsely-decorated rooms, featuring original furnishings and woodwork, authentic to the Civil War Era and those summer days from 1862 to 1864.

"This isn't a traditional museum with velvet ropes and a lot of furniture," Moe said. "This is a museum of ideas: Union, freedom, emancipation. Those are the ideas that made us the country we are today."

Lincoln we're told found comfort at the cottage, and at least once dodged danger to get here, surviving a sniper attack that left a hole in his old stovepipe hat.

But THAT'S just one of the stories that can now be re-told, reclaimed along with this house, once lost to American History.

For more information visit the Web site for President Lincoln's Cottage At The Soldiers' Home