Family opens Lincoln Homestead for community prior to restoration
President Abraham Lincoln's birthday is on February 12th, and, to celebrate, the Lincoln Society of Virginia will host its annual observance at the Lincoln Family Cemetery in Linville. The ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m. on February 12, 2020.
The Lincoln Homestead, which sits along Harpine Highway, will host an open house for people to experience the home before it is restored. The home will open after the ceremony and will be available for people to walk through until 6:00 p.m.
It sits on the property that President Abraham Lincoln's great-grandfather moved to in 1768 on a total of 600 acres on Linville Creek at 7884 Harpine Highway in Linville.
Sarah and Benjamin Bixler are the new owners of the Lincoln Homestead. They both went to Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and moved away from the Valley a few years ago. Sarah has been offered a position to teach at EMU, which brings the couple and their three children back to the area.
"We realized that this would be the perfect place to make our home," said Sarah.
Sarah and Benjamin have experience working with old homes, because in 2005, they built a house in Linville using salvaged materials from a house that was from the 1800's. Benjamin's father has made a career in restoring old houses.
"He walked through the Lincoln Homestead and he said, 'O,h I know exactly what to do with a place like this! This is going to be beautiful," said Sarah.
The family will do almost all of the restoring themselves and they do expect to come across some challenges, like adding plumbing and heating.
"It's exciting and it's scary at the same time. We don't know what we are going to run into," said Sarah.
The Bixlers' goal is to strike a balance between modern conveniences while respecting the architecture that is already in place as they learn as much as they can about those who lived there years ago.
"I think about it a lot when I walk over the floor boards, when I touch a door handle, when I touch the walls, I realize there are people whose bodies have been in this house before and they have lived and loved and experienced joy and pain in this house," said Sarah.
She said the family is working to learn about every person who lived there, not just the Lincoln family.
The home restoration will begin in the spring and Sarah said once things are complete the family will continue to open their home at different times to provide learning experiences for those around them.
"It's important to us to make this a place of education and connection for the community," said Sarah.
The tour of the home is free, but donations will be accepted for restoration costs.