LEXINGTON, Kentucky — A two-story brick building along a busy stretch of West Main Street has a deep history.
This structure was once the home of Robert S. Todd and his daughter Mary, who later married Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.
The house was built between 1803 and 1806 and originally served as an inn called “The Sign of the Green Tree” before being purchased by the Todd family. Robert S. Todd, a contemporary of Henry Clay and John Wesley Hunt, was a Lexington businessman and politician.
He was involved in the grocery business and a cotton manufacturing firm in Lexington and also served in the Kentucky General Assembly for 24 years. Todd was the Lexington Branch of the Bank of Kentucky’s president.
Mary Todd was not born in this house; she moved here with her family in 1832 when she was 14. She attended boarding school during the week and returned home on weekends.
Mary Todd lived in the house until she moved to Springfield, Illinois, in 1839 to live with her sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, Ninian Edwards. In Springfield, she married Abraham Lincoln in 1842.
She is a misunderstood historical figure, and the museum helps give much-needed context to her story.
The home was auctioned after Robert S. Todd’s death, and an inventory from this auction became the guide to furnish the house museum. The Todd and Lincoln families have donated some family artifacts to the home.
The Kentucky Mansions Preservation Foundation operates the Mary Todd Lincoln House, which opened on June 9, 1977. It is the first historic site restored to honor of a First Lady.