How many people know that the 20th President of the United States only served 6 months of his term? James A. Garfield was assassinated not long after he took office, but he is remembered more for starting the front porch platform during presidential campaigns and having the first presidential library established after his death.
A front porch can serve many purposes. For some, a place to enjoy the breeze on a warm summer night. For others, a perch from which to keep eyes on what’s happening in their neighborhood. In 1880, James Garfield used his front porch as a platform to greet thousands of well-wishers during Historic presidential campaign.
James A. Garfield National Historic Site is located in Mentor, OH. The site preserves the property associated with the 20th President James A. Garfield, and includes the first presidential library established in the United States.
Garfield purchased the home in 1876 to accommodate his large family. The home, named Lawnfield by reporters, was the site of the first successful front porch campaign in 1880. That same year, Garfield had 11 rooms added to the building to accommodate his large family. Garfield was President from March 4, 1881 until his death on September 19, 1881. Four years after his assassination, Mrs. Garfield and her family added the Memorial Library wing, setting the precedent for presidential libraries.
Lucretia Garfield lived in the house at least part of every year until her death in 1918. Her brother, Joseph Rudolph, lived there until he died in 1934.
Visitor Center: Open seasonally May – October. 10 – 5
Visitor Center: Free
45 minute guided tour of Garfield home: $7
Since we had visited the James A. Garfield National Historic Site a couple of days earlier and seeing a photograph of where he was buried, we just knew we had to check his tomb out when we were near Cleveland. The building looked intriguing…
The James A. Garfield Memorial was built in memory of the 20th U.S. President, who was assassinated in 1881. The memorial is located at 12316 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland in the Lake View Cemetery. The country grieved for his loss almost as much as they had done for Lincoln, 16 years previously. In Washington, 100,000 plus citizens visited his casket, lying in state in the Capitol. Part of the memorial’s funding came from pennies sent in by children throughout the country.
The caskets of the President and Lucretia Garfield lie in a crypt beneath the memorial, along with the ashes of their daughter and son-in-law, (Mary “Mollie” Garfield Stanley-Brown (1867–1947) and Joseph Stanley Brown).
The tomb was designed by architect George Keller utilizing Ohio sandstone, with reliefs depicting scenes from Garfield’s life. The exterior sculptures were done by Casper Buberl. Its construction began in 1885, and it was dedicated on May 30, 1890. Its cost, $135,000, was defrayed by popular subscription. The round tower is 50 feet in diameter and 180 feet high. Around the exterior of the balcony are five terra cotta panels with over 110 life size figures depicting Garfield’s life and death. The interior features stained glass windows and window like panes representing the original 13 colonies, plus the state of Ohio, along with panels depicting War and Peace; mosaic; deep red granite columns; and a 12-foot-tall white marble statue of President Garfield.
It is open to the public daily from April 1 through November 19 from 9-4.
Both Garfield’s home and the memorial were very interesting to see and were full of history. For a President who wasn’t in office very long, one could tell that he was very loved.