Lawnfield, James Garfield National Historic Site

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8095 Mentor Ave., Mentor, OH, USA

Lawnfield, James Garfield National Historic Site Mentor Reviews

vances vances
581 reviews
No Odie Jun 03, 2017
The inspiration for visiting Lawnfield, the presidential home of James Garfield, was his biography, “Destiny of the Republic”. Assassinated very shortly after taking office, there was scant legacy left behind to appreciate Garfield, but this recommended book reveals what an inspiring individual he was. Garfield only moved here five years before being elected President and I believe his motivations speak yards about what a genuine human being he was. The farm was purchased while serving as a United States Representative for Ohio (requiring him to spend much time in Washington D.C.) and Garfield desired to raise his children in an environment which would imbue qualities he had enjoyed from a similar upbringing, and to balance Congressional duties by allowing him to “touch the earth and get some strength from it.”

Typical of the exuberance with which he embraced everything in life, Garfield added eleven rooms and a front porch to the house during the four years he was in residence. Though his time here was tragically cut short, Garfield was cherished by the citizenry and donations poured in for his family after his death. Garfield’s wife, Lucretia, used a portion of these funds to add a wing to Lawnfield and effectively built a shrine to her late husband. By preserving Garfield’s books and papers in this addition, Lucretia inaugurated the tradition of presidential libraries at Lawnfield!

Another tradition initiated at Lawnfield was the front porch campaign. Candidates did not travel about the country in these times, and Garfield would deliver speeches to masses congregating in front of Lawnfield as the election neared. A fascinating tidbit is that Garfield never intended to run for President. He had been tapped to make the inaugurating speech for a fellow Ohioan at the Republican Convention, and it was so rousing the attendees began chanting for him to appear on the slate. Garfield made no effort to pursue nomination once his hat been tossed into the ring, but forces slowly coalesced behind him as nobody could muster a majority. On the 36th ballot, Garfield became the man.

It proved convenient that train tracks for a local railroad ran across the grounds of Lawnfield – the line capitalized by adding runs to the Mentor station and even initiated a special stop at a gravel path between the tracks and Lawnfield. Garfield coordinated the campaign from Lawnfield, establishing headquarters within his household office space (which Lucretia teasingly called his “Snuggery”).

So let us go inside and enjoy. Lawnfield is listed as a National Historic Site and managed by the National Park Service. Entrance fee is $7 per adult (no charge if under sixteen). Tours begin every 45 minutes and I was tickled to be escorted by a park ranger dressed to lead an outdoor hike, even though he would only conduct us through an elegantly appointed household!

The interior is richly furnished, with many of the pieces and most of the artwork originals. You certainly come away with the feeling of a close family, and one of the restored rooms visited during the tour is the bedroom of Garfield’s mother, whom he kissed first after being inaugurated as 20th President of the United States (Lucretia was kissed immediately afterwards!). Lucretia’s additions, particularly the Memorial Library with its beamed ceiling is splendid. Lucretia was apparently superstitious and the ranger pointed out a table where a spider’s web, considered good luck, had been etched into the design. Eventually, Lucretia’s efforts to enshrine her husband’s memory get a bit creepy – Garfield’s Death Mask and a Funeral Wreath Lucretia preserved are also on display.

Special tours are frequently offered and I originally contacted them about a “Behind the Doors” offering. A helpful attendant advised the tour would be much better after I had taken the regular tour. So we only enjoyed the standard tour during our visit, but they were running a special exhibit of “Lucretia’s Dresses.” Several original dresses were displayed throughout the house and had we opted to hang for several hours, a free lecture was being presented that afternoon by a local college professor on this topic.

A very nice tour which helps one grasp what a splendid human being James Garfield was.
Lawnfield, James A. Garfield Histo…
Our park ranger begins the tour...…
Looking along the side of Lawnfield
Stained glass windows at Lawnfield
8 / 8 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Paulovic says:
Congrats on your featured blog, Vance!
Posted on: Sep 30, 2017
Vance, congrats on your featured review. Well done.
Posted on: Sep 28, 2017
gingerbatik says:
congrats on the featured Vance:)
Posted on: Sep 28, 2017
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