Quick, what stands out from James A. Garfield's presidency? If you struggle to answer that question, you might consider a visit to the James A. Garfield National Historic Site this year during its 30th anniversary.
The nation's 20th president, Mr. Garfield was a Republican in the mold of Abraham Lincoln, one who was determined to root out political corruption. Among his efforts in that regard was to remove a U.S. senator from control of the Customs House in New York City. Unfortunately, President Garfield wasn't able to serve out his full term and complete his work, as he was shot by a would-be assassin on July 2, 1881, and lingered on until September 19, 1881, when he died of infection and internal hemorrhaging related to the wound.
Come Sunday, a year-long celebration marking the 30th anniversary of the historic site, which preserves President Garfield's Ohio home, gets under way at 2 p.m. with a special presentation. “The Garfields’ Gift” program will trace the history of the property nicknamed “Lawnfield” and explain how it evolved from a presidential home to a national historic site.
The presentation will be made by John Debo, retired superintendent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park; Dean Zimmerman, Curator of the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland; and Allison Powell, a park ranger at the historic site.
This will be the first of four programs in 2010 to commemorate the site’s 30th anniversary. The others will be held on Sunday, May 23; Sunday, July 18; and Saturday, September 25. Additional details on those events will be forthcoming.
“This year is an important one in the history of James A. Garfield National Historic Site,” said Site Manager Sherda Williams. “Our 30th anniversary is an opportune time to reflect on the site’s past, celebrate the present, and plan for our future. We invite everyone with an interest in James A. Garfield, local history, or national parks to attend this program and the others we will host throughout this anniversary year.”
The Garfield home, located in Mentor, Ohio, 25 miles east of Cleveland, has been open to the public as a museum since 1936; it became a national historic site under the management of the National Park Service in 1980. The site offers guided tours of the Garfield home, museum exhibits, and an introductory film.
The house was completely restored by the National Park Service in the late 1990s, making it one of the most impressive presidential homes preserved for the public. For information call (440) 255-8722, write 8095 Mentor Avenue, Mentor, OH 44060, or visit www.nps.gov/jaga on the Internet.