It’s no secret that I love trivia. One of my favorite parts of traveling is learning interesting tidbits about the places I visit. For instance, did you know that Civil War general and former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant lived in Galena, Illinois? Me neither!
On a recent visit to eastern Iowa we took a quick drive across the Mississippi River and into my home state of Illinois to visit the Ulysses S. Grant Home on the river’s opposite bank in Galena. After his victories in the Civil War, grateful citizens purchased the home for Grant in 1865. Today this historic site is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
The brick home was designed by William Dennison and constructed in 1860 for former City Clerk Alexander Jackson. Though he spent a limited amount of time at the residence, Grant used the home as his official address through his election, presidency, and into his retirement.
In 1880, he visited Galena for the last time. Five years later he would die of throat cancer in New York. Then in 1904, Grant’s children gave the historic home to the City of Galena to carry on the memory of their father.
The home is decorated with a mixture of original and replica furnishings from the mid-1800s. The residence offers a glimpse into what life was like for Grant, his wife, and their four children.
Before our tour, I knew relatively little about Julia Grant. Did you know she was the first President’s wife to use the moniker of “First Lady”? Though after learning about her early commitment to women’s rights and progressive role in the White House, I’m interested in reading her autobiography.
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If you visit the Ulysses S. Grant Home
A visit to the Ulysses S. Grant Home is a wonderful way to experience a unique piece of Galena’s history. Knowledgeable tour guides offer guided explorations of the historic home and the grounds are open for visitors to roam.
Suggested Donation: $5 adults / $3 children
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday / 9 am – 4:45 pm
Ulysses S. Grant Home, 500 Bouthillier Street in Galena, Illinois
Have you visited a presidential home? What was your experience like?