Thursday, July 30, 2009

US20 In Ohio: Lawnfield, Revisited

My first full blog post here was covering Lawnfield, the home of the 20th President of the United State, James A. Garfield, which is located on US Route 20 in Mentor, Ohio.

Not only am I fortunate enough to live less than a half mile from US 20, I live less than two miles from Lawnfield, a National Historic Site. Since it was a beautiful summer day, I thought I’d take a quick drive to Lawnfield and get some updated pictures of the house and the grounds (I got there too early today and the house interior wasn’t open.) I saw something on the grounds that I did not see the last time I was there – it was an artist’s depiction of Garfield’s property and the area around it during the time of Garfield’s 1880 presidential campaign. It clearly shows US Route 20, which was - and still is - known as Mentor Avenue. (I’ve highlighted in with a large arrow on the photo below so it is easier to spot.)

To refresh everyone’s memory, here’s what I wrote in February 2008 about Garfield’s Lawnfield:

When Garfield was a Congressman, he purchased what was known as the Dickey Farm, which included a nine-room home that sat on 16o acres. Since the house was not large enough for his family, Garfield had additions built on to the original structure, bringing the size of the house to 20 rooms.

In 1880, Garfield became a candidate for the presidency. He used the front porch of his Mentor home for speeches. The name of the house – Lawnfield – was what all the visiting reporters named it because of the wide grassy lawn around the home. After Garfield’s assassination in 1881, his widow Lucretia added on the first presidential library and vault in the county, starting the trend of presidential libraries for subsequent presidents. The family stayed in the home until 1936, at which time the family gave the house and all its contents to the Western Reserve Historical Society. The house operated as a museum, and was designated as a National Historic Site in December 28, 1980. It is also part of the National Park System.

The home was given a $12.5 million restoration in the 1990s, at which time the home was restored to its original state colors of gray and scarlet. The interior of the home is filled with antique Victorian furniture, 80% of which belonged to the Garfield family. Wallpapers were also reproduced where photographs or samples were available.

One interesting structure on the grounds is a large windmill, constructed to replace an earlier windmill that was needed to pump and store water from a well. Lucretia was very involved in this project. The windmill had been taken down in 1936 due to wind damage. According to the Western Reserve Historical Society, “The structure was rebuilt after a generous and anonymous gift was donated for its reconstruction in 1998 and is standing once again in all its glory today.”

Artist's Depiction, Lawnfield and Mentor Avenue (US20) in 1880

Front of Lawnfield, with famous front porchWindmill at site entrance drive

Side view of house from site entrance

The Carriage House

The rear of the house

The campaign office

Back door

Historical Marker

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