A Quick Question and a Quick Stop

Which former Civil War general conducted his presidential campaign from this front porch?

Last October, I posted a little about James A. Garfield’s Civil War service and his brief presidency, along with a couple books about Garfield. This morning, I had the chance to do a quick drive-by of the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio.

Tens of thousands of people came by special rail line to Garfield’s front lawn to hear him speak during the campaign, which, fittingly enough, became known as “the front porch campaign.” It’s neat to walk across those same floorboards, which I’ve done on previous visits.

Because it’s winter, the site is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m., and is closed Monday through Friday. “However,” the website says, “if you are planning a trip to the area during the week, please call ahead and we will do our best to accommodate you.”

I can attest, from previous trips, that the site is definitely worth a visit. The home, which the Garfields called “Lawnfield” because of its broad front yard, is beautiful. I’ve never been a fan of house tours, to be honest, but the interior of Lawnfield is breathtaking, and it includes a step into the first presidential library, established by Garfield’s widow, Lucretia, as a way to collect her husband’s papers.

Among the special tours offered at the site is a tour focusing on “Garfield and the Civil War,” held the third Saturday of each month. According to the website, the program discusses the Civil War career of James A. Garfield and that of his brother-in-law, Joe Rudolph. “After learning about Garfield’s experience at the Battle of Chickamauga and Sandy Valley, the tour moves to the third floor suite in the Garfield Home, where General Rudolph lived with his family during the late ninteenth and early twentieth century,” it says.

The program is roughly 1 1/2 hours, and begins at 11:00 a.m. in the Visitor Center. Reservations are required and are limited to visitors sixteen years and over. There is a $15/person fee.

I swung by shortly after sunrise today, so even if it was in season, the site wouldn’t have been open. However, I thought y’all might nonetheless enjoy a few shots of the grounds.

(And here, from the NPS website, is a shot of the property in fairer weather.)

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