After visiting Grant’s Farm Josh begged me to let him visit the Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site.
The historical marker is within walking distance of Grant’s Farm which isn’t surprising considering it had been part of the farm. The historical site is the plantation house President Grant had intended on retiring in.
After Grant graduated from West Point he went to visit his roommate’s family in St. Louis, the Dents, and fell in love with his friend’s sister Julia. They were engaged for four years, while he fought in the Mexican-American War. After they were married, Grant continued in the army for another 6 or 7 years before retiring to be a farmer on his father-in-law’s plantation. During this time Ulysses and Julia lived in this house as well as in a log cabin elsewhere on the property. The log cabin currently resides in its original location somewhere in the deer park on Grant’s Farm (I think we saw it on the tram tour.) The cabin is notable because it was built by Grant himself and also because it was displayed at the 1904 World’s Fair.
The Dent’s house has an interesting story in its own right. It is the original house that they lived in; however, it has had several renovations over the years. Grant himself had a “modern” kitchen added as he was preparing the house for his retirement. And the house was lived in until fairly recently so it had been upgraded with modern conveniences like electricity. In fact, the house is located in a neighborhood and you can actually see several other houses from the site. Now that it is a historical site, the Parks Service has removed most of the modern upgrades and is in the process of restoring it to the condition it would have been in when Ulysses Grant was living in the house. The green paint the house is painted in is historically accurate to the time. Rich people would paint their houses green because it was the color of money.
I was surprised that we were allowed to tour the inside of the house. The house is in good condition but is only sparsely furnished. I suppose this is not surprising as the house has changed hands many times and I doubt any of the original furnishings survived. In the dining room, over the fireplace there is a “magic mirror” (TV) that shows a little reenactment of Dent and Grant arguing about slavery. The Dents had slaves to work on the farm and in the house which Grant strongly disagreed with. The “magic mirror” was interesting and added a little to the tour. Josh loved it. The house still has many of the original features including the winter and summer kitchens, the chicken coop, and an ice house. We also got to tour the farm office, where Grant worked when he was running the farm.
The barn has been converted into a museum with information about President Grant and his wife Julia. Their story sounds really interesting, a great love story. I do think it is interesting that a separation like the one Josh and I have been living with these past 3 years would have been pretty common in the past. I guess I should just be glad that I don’t have a bunch of kids to raise all on my own while Josh is off fighting in some war or something.
One of the displays in the museum talks about all of the places Grant visited as President of the United States. There are a bunch of dress up clothes which I’m sure are meant for children but Josh couldn’t resist trying some of them on.
We thought this coat was a civil war uniform jacket, but once he had it on it looked more like a lady’s coat.
They also had some funny hats like a turban and a fez. He’s such a good sport!
We managed to have some fun and learn some interesting facts about one of our Presidents. And Josh got to cross another Civil War thing off his bucket list.
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