Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

About the site

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site preserves the history of White Haven, the 200-year-old estate that was once home to Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. The park is located at 7400 Grant Road, St. Louis, Missouri.

The house was painted Paris Green in 1874 during Grant’s presidency and was repainted the same color during its restoration in the 1990s. The red buildings behind the house are the icehouse and chicken coop. We only took a couple of non-post-worthy pictures inside the house because our guide, Ranger Evan, was extremely interesting to listen to as she led us through the property.

Highlights of the park include:

  • Visitor center and gift shop/bookstore
  • Introductory film
  • Museum
  • Self-guided walk through the grounds
  • Self-guided tour featuring the historic trees on the property
  • Ranger-led tours of the house
  • Junior Ranger programs
  • John Y. Simon Research Library – by appointment only

The park’s website link: Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Importance of the historic site

Ulysses S. Grant was not only the victorious commanding general of the Union Army during the Civil War, but he was also the 18th President of the United States. Grant served two terms as president from 1869 – 1877. His wife and First Lady, Julia Dent Grant spent her childhood at White Haven. Her father, Frederick Dent, who was a successful merchant and land speculator, purchased White Haven in 1820 as a country get away from the family’s city home in St. Louis. It is hard to imagine today that the family’s second home was only twelve miles from their primary residence.

Historic photo, White Haven, circa 1860
Another view of the house that we almost matched to the historic image above. The white structure behind the house is a kitchen and laundry.

Ulysses and Julia at White Haven

Ulysses met Julia in 1843 when he visited White Haven with his former West Point roommate who happened to be her older brother, Fred. After courting for only four months, Julia accepted Ulysses’ proposal, which they kept secret for over a year. However, due to the outbreak of the Mexican-American War they wouldn’t marry until 1848. Ulysses served in the U.S. Army for eleven years prior to resigning and joining his wife at White Haven in 1854 to try farming. He built a cabin on an 80-acre plot that Julia’s father had given the couple as a wedding gift, and they named the property Hardscrabble. While Grant owned one enslaved worker, a man named William Jones who had been given to him by Julia’s father, he also hired free men to work on the farm.

Hardscrabble – photo from the Library of Congress. The Grants lived in this cabin for only three months. Upon the death of her mother, Julia’s father asked her, Ulysses, and their two children to live in his White Haven home with him. They never returned to Hardscrabble. The cabin can now be seen at the family amusement venue, Grant’s Farm, which is next door to the historic site.

Grant’s Pre-Civil War Years

By 1858 Grant, now with four children, was unable to support the family by farming, but instead of selling his one slave to make money he freed the man. Slavery was a topic on which he and his father-in-law greatly differed, as Frederick Dent’s White Haven was a slave plantation. Nonetheless, after failing at farming and on the verge of being penniless, Grant leased Hardscrabble and moved his family to St. Louis where he began a real estate venture. Unfortunately, real estate was not a successful career either, so he moved his family to Galena, Illinois and went to work in his family’s leather goods business. During this time Frederick Dent lost much of White Haven to foreclosure. He also began deeding acreages to his children. Then in December of 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. By February 1861, six other states had seceded and had formed the Confederate States of America. The Civil War had begun.

This view of the back of the house shows the kitchen and laundry that was separate from the house.

Grant’s Civil War Years

After the war began, the governor of Illinois appointed Grant to lead a regiment of volunteers. Grant was so successful in training the men and gaining their respect that President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to Brigadier General. As the war continued, Lincoln became displeased with the North’s military leadership. Therefore, in March of 1864, Lincoln appointed Grant General-in-Chief of the U. S. Army, a rank that had only ever been held by George Washington. Over the following year Grant, who sometimes joined his subordinates in battle, successfully led the North to victory. Despite heavy casualties, he settled for nothing less than unconditional and immediate surrenders, which earned him the nickname, “Unconditional Surrender Grant”. The war ended on April 9, 1865, with the South’s General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Grant at Virginia’s Appomattox Courthouse.

Lee surrenders to Grant – Library of Congress image

Grant’s Post-Civil War Years

After the war, President Andrew Johnson appointed Grant Secretary of War of the reconstructing nation. During and after the war the Grants had purchased White Haven from Julia’s siblings and father and regained Hardscrabble. In 1868, Grant was elected President of the United States, having won against incumbent Andrew Johnson. The Grants moved into the White House in 1869 and hired Ulysses’ cousin’s husband to manage the farm at White Haven. By this time, Dent’s former enslaved workers had left, and French and German immigrants were hired as laborers. Grant had a barn and stables built at White Haven and began buying horses. The Grants visited White Haven as often as possible and planned to spend their retirement years there. However, the farming and livestock operation failed to make money, so in 1875, Grant sold White Haven’s assets and leased out the property. They would never return.

This stable housed Grant’s thoroughbreds. Today it houses the park’s museum.

Trivia: General Grant and Julia had been invited to join President Lincoln and the First Lady in the balcony of Ford’s Theater on April 15, 1865, the night the President was assassinated. However, the Grants had declined the invitation due to Julia wanting to visit relatives in New Jersey.

Ulysses S. Grant standing next to his wife Julia Dent Grant, who is sitting
Ulysses and Julia in 1864 or 1865 – National Park Service photo.

Grant’s Post-Presidency Years

Julia had wanted her husband to run for a third presidential term, but he refused by publicly renouncing his interest. The former President and First Lady set off on a two-year world tour, fulfilling Grant’s lifelong dream of travel.  Upon their return to the U.S., he sought to win the Republican nomination for president in the 1880 election, but the party chose James A. Garfield as their candidate. Ulysses and Julia settled in New York to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer in the summer of 1884. Early in 1885, the former president began writing his memoirs. Three months before his death, Grant found that he had lost his fortune to an investment scam perpetrated by his son Jesse’s business partner. Because of the swindle, the Grants also lost White Haven. He completed his memoirs just three days before his death on July 23, 1885.

Ulysses S. Grant

Museum Exhibits

Click on an image to view as a gallery.

The Grant Family: Nellie, Ulysses, Jesse, Frederick, Julia, and Ulysses, Jr.

Trivia: Ulysses S. Grant is not the former president’s actual name. His given name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. However, when his congressman submitted Ulysses’ application to West Point, he mistakenly wrote down Ulysses Simpson Grant, Simpson having been Ulysses’ mother’s maiden name. After attempting to correct the mistake at West Point to no avail, Ulysses finally gave up and signed his name as Ulysses S. Grant. The name would follow him throughout the rest of his life and into history.

Thank you so much for joining us on our visit to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. We learned a lot during our visit, and we hope you did too.

Want to learn about other American presidents? Click on these great parks:

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Eisenhower National Historic Site


Travel safely, and we will see you on the road.

Mike & Kellye


As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.






Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg has a lot to see and do, and honestly we should have stayed for more than a day. We spent two hours viewing the introductory film, seeing the cyclorama, and seeing the museum. All three are covered in a $15.00 fee at the visitor center. Otherwise, the park is free to visit. The auto tour took another three hours. We hiked one trail near Little Round Top and then walked the entire National Cemetery Trail. In all, we probably spent six to seven hours in the park. If you have never been to Gettysburg, you need to know that the park is surrounded by the town where traffic is heavy and parking is almost non-existent. Downtown Gettysburg is fun and has lots of shops and restaurants, but be prepared to feed a parking meter if you go.

Restaurant recommendations:

Tommy’s Pizza – great for lunch.

The Gettysburger was worth the hour-long wait for a table for dinner. The food was great and the service was excellent. They even have a dog menu if you want to have your fur baby join you on their patio! We highly recommend making a reservation.

The Auto Tour

The auto tour is 24 miles long and can be self-guided or many types of guided tours are available. We chose to do the self guided tour which is easy using the information provided in the park brochure. The tour is well marked with signs so it is easy to follow. We did not stop at every memorial or monument, however, we did stop at all sixteen points of interest described in the brochure.

Eternal Light Peace Memorial – “Peace Eternal in a Nation United”
The Virginia Memorial
State of Pennsylvania Monument
Church at the Lutheran Theological Seminary – Seminary Ridge

The Gettysburg National Cemetery

The National Cemetery is a a somber and extremely beautiful place. While driving through the battlefields, you can’t help but think about what took place there and the lives that were ended or changed forever on those hallowed grounds, but walking through the cemetery really brings it home.

The Soldiers National Memorial at Gettysburg National Cemetery sits on the site of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg Cyclorama

The Gettysburg Cyclorama, which is 377 feet long and 42 feet high, is a stunning depiction of the final Confederate assault on July 3, 1863. The painting, one of the largest in the world, was done by Paul Philippoteaux in the 1880s. The building that houses the cyclorama provides special lighting and sound effects that seemingly place the viewer in the midst of the battle. The narrator does an excellent job of pointing out the landmarks and explaining how the battle took place. Seeing this before we took the auto tour really helped us to know what we were looking at. Some of our photos are below, and here is a link to the National Park Service website which has the history of the cyclorama, videos, and additional photos: https://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/cyclorama.htm

This is a close-up of the photo above. Look closely at the man being carried. It’s a little Easter egg that Philippoteaux added to his masterpiece. Do you see that the man is Abraham Lincoln? They also said that Philippoteaux portrayed himself somewhere in the painting too, but we didn’t find him.

The Gettysburg Museum

So much to see and learn in this museum! It is a definite must-do prior to taking the auto tour. We were particularly interested in the many flags that are on display. Below are a couple of the exhibits.

We’re going to close this post with one last picture from the auto tour. Please come back often to see more of our latest trip. Better yet, become an e-mail follower so you will be notified every time we post. We will not sell to or share your information with anyone.

The beautiful State of Vermont Monument

Thanks so much for riding along with us. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.



Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park


  • Website link: Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
  • Where is it: Cornish, New Hampshire
  • What is it: the home and studios of sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907)
  • Hours: 9:00 – 4:30 from the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend to October 31
  • Much of the park is closed from November to May, however, the visitor center may be open. Check the website for additional information

Seen on approach to the visitor center, a replica of Saint-Gaudens Standing Lincoln (1887). The original sculpture is in Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois. A replica of the sculpture was also placed at Lincoln’s tomb.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who had shown an interest in art at an early age, was only thirteen-years-old when he landed an apprenticeship cutting cameos. During this time, the Saint-Gaudens family lived in New York City where Augustus attended school. When his six-year apprenticeship was complete, Augustus went to Europe to study art in Paris and then Rome.

Cameos. (We apologize for the glare on the glass.)

Saint-Gaudens arrived in Cornish, New Hampshire, near the bank of the Connecticut River, in 1885 where he rented an old inn from a friend. He quickly adapted the buildings to suit his needs and then purchased the property in 1892, naming it Aspet after his father’s hometown in France. The family used Aspet as their summer home until 1900 when Augustus was diagnosed with cancer and the estate became their year-round residence.


This is the back of the home and the cutting garden. It is said that Saint-Gaudens had a hand in planning and planting the gardens and other landscaped areas on the estate.

The Little Studio, built in 1904. Saint Gaudens worked alone in this studio, while his assistants and students worked in other studios on the property.

We were able to tour the first floor of the house, where all of the original furnishings and decorative pieces can be seen. Unfortunately, the home contains no original Saint-Gaudens artworks. The studios and several other buildings on the grounds are also open for visitors to enjoy.

Civil War Admiral, David G. Faragut Monument (1881). Saint-Gaudens’ first commissioned work, which was won while Saint-Gaudens was still in Paris. The original of this monument is located in Madison Square in New York City.

After the Faragut piece was made public, Saint-Gaudens became a sought-after American sculptor. With business booming, so to speak, Saint-Gaudens hired assistants and began tutoring aspiring artists at Aspet.

The Shaw Memorial (1884-1897) . Another replica, which stands on the lawn bowling green of the estate. The original of this relief sculpture is in the Boston Common, Boston, Massachusetts. Interestingly, Saint-Gaudens worked on this piece for 14 years, and continued making subtle improvements to the cast even though the original had already been unveiled.

Victory. She appears in Saint-Gauden’s General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument, which stands in Manhattan. She may look familiar because she also appears on the Saint-Gaudens designed Double Eagle Gold Coin (minted until 1933) as Liberty with a few minor changes. For example, the coin depicts Liberty holding an olive branch in her left hand and a torch in her right.

President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a friend of Saint-Gaudens, asked the US Treasury to engage the sculptor to redesign four gold coins and the one cent piece. This was the first time ever that a coin was designed by someone other than an employee of the US Mint.


Saint-Gaudens was married to Augusta Homer in 1877. Her father, who gave consent for the marriage only after Saint-Gaudens won the Faragut commission, had been worried that the young sculptor wouldn’t be able to take care of his daughter until he was an established artist. (We think that Augustus proved himself very well!) Augusta Homer was a distant cousin of the artist, Winslow Homer. Augustus and Augusta had one child, a son named Homer. Augustus’, Augusta’s, and Homer’s ashes are interred on the grounds of Aspet.


Thank you for visiting Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park with us. For more interesting information about Augustus Saint-Gaudens, click on the website link at the top of the page. We are going to end this post here, but come back to our site often for more great destinations, parks, campsites, and quick stops. We love having you along on our travels.

We are going to close this post with a shot of the Windsor-Cornish bridge. This bridge, which spans the Connecticut River and connects Windsor, Vermont with Cornish, New Hampshire, was constructed in 1866. It is the longest covered bridge in the US.


Okay, we can’t resist. Everyone should see the pretty Connecticut River, which creates the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, so below is our real parting shot. Quite beautiful, isn’t it? We think that any artist would be inspired by living here.


Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.