James A. Garfield National Historic Site (Mentor, OH)
James A. Garfield purchased his Mentor, Ohio home in 1876, which he & his wife Lucretia named Lawnfield. By this time Garfield had served in the Civil War as a Union officer (1862 to 1863) and had served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1863 to 1881). The original home was about a third of the size it is today, with 1-1/2 stories and five rooms, but Garfield utilized the home heavily during his Presidential campaign in 1880. Approximately 15,000 people made their way to Lawnfield during that time, where Garfield bent the “rules” of running for President and gave speeches. In previous elections, those running for President did not openly campaign for the position and instead spread their ideas and promoted themselves using others as their mouthpiece, so this was a unique and new approach from Garfield. It was also at Lawnfield that Garfield met with individuals as famous as then-current President Ulysses S. Grant. Garfield even had his own campaign and telegraph office on the property, which still stands today.
Garfield was elected 20th President of the United States, but was shot by an assassin’s bullet on July 2, 1881 and eventually died on September 9, 1881.His wife Lucretia, along with their children, moved back to the Mentor home where she continued on its expansion. She built on entire additions that included the first Presidential library containing over 5,000 books in honor of her husband and their love of literature. Today, the home is 3 stories tall with 20 rooms. Lucretia is the true spirit of the home, and her passion for decorating and recognizing the trends of the day emanates strongly throughout.
Approximately 80% of the possessions within the home today are from the Garfield family. In terms of historical homes, I thought it was one of the more furnished homes I’ve seen. Several of the rooms on the main floor have been restored to what what they looked like during Garfield’s Presidental campaign in 1880; the rest of the rooms are reflective to how the home looked at the end of the 1800’s.
It is advised that you check the home’s website for hours and tour information. Regular tours include not only the home, but a visitor’s center museum. There is a cost of admission for adults and children over the age of 15. In addition to regular tours, park rangers offer two special tours: “Behind the Scenes” (usually the first Saturday of each month) and “Garfield in the Civil War” (usually on the third Saturday of each month). Each of these sessions are 1-1/2 hours in length and cost more than the normal tour. It is suggested that you make reservations for the special tours. Group tours are also available by appointment.
Photography is allowed, but no flash is allowed inside the home. A gift shop is located on the property.
Well furnished historical home of a Civil War vet & former President. Home contains mostly family possessions with some Civil War related items.
8095 Mentor Avenue
Mentor, OH 44060
Photography: The Civil War Project (December 2011)