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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Late 19th Century, 1865-1900 >> James Garfield's Administration, 1881 >> James Abram Garfield
James A. Garfield Home in Mentor, Ohio

The first ever "front porch" presidential campaign in American history was conducted by James A. Garfield from this home at 8095 Mentor Avenue in Mentor, Ohio.

James and Lucretia Garfield moved their large family (seven children) from Hiram to Mentor in 1876, while he was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. The couple had several reasons for making the move, including: the need for a larger house, his desire to teach his children about farming, and the realignment by the State Legislature of the district Garfield represented. Between 1877 and 1880, the couple enlarged the home from nine rooms to twenty, added a porch across the front, and refurnished the interior.

the Garfield home as it looked in 1880
Garfield's home in 1880

Called simply "the Mentor Farm" by the Garfields, the estate was dubbed "Lawnfield" during Garfield's 1880 presidential campaign, by the many reporters who camped out on the lawns around the house. Garfield maintained an office in the main house, which Lucretia called his "Snuggery," for private meetings and conversations, and converted a small building formerly used as his personal library into his campaign headquarters and equipped it with a temporary telegraph to send and receive messages, including the results of the election. The Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, whose tracks ran across the farm, routed special excursions to Mentor and set up a stop at Garfield Lane, the pathway leading to the house.

James Garfield never had the chance to return to the house following his inauguration as President because he was assassinated. Four years after his death, Lucretia Garfield, using money donated by the American public in memory of the martyred president, transformed the house into a memorial to her husband, adding a new wing to the house that included a library and vault to protect his papers.

Mrs. Garfield continued to live 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. In 1936, Garfield's children donated the house and all of its contents to the Western Reserve Historical Society for use as a museum. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966, and was officially proclaimed the James A. Garfield National Historic Site on December 28, 1980.

James A. Garfield Home today
James A. Garfield Home today

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
James Abram Garfield National Historic Site www.nps.gov/jaga/

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Late 19th Century, 1865-1900 >> James Garfield's Administration, 1881 >> James Abram Garfield

This page was last updated on September 26, 2017.