Visit Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, the historic abode of Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant. It remains largely unchanged since he lived here more than 100 years ago and gives visitors a unique glimpse into this famous figure’s daily life.
Grant and his wife Julia moved to Galena in 1860. See the modest two-story brick house they rented for the couple and their four children. His presence here did not last long. When the Civil War began in 1961, Grant joined the U.S. Army.
By the time the Confederates surrendered in 1865, Grant had become the undisputed Union war hero. When he returned to Galena, grateful townspeople presented the fully furnished house to the family. Grant lived here until he was elected president in 1868 and stayed in the home whenever he visited Galena. Follow a knowledgeable tour guide through the house, noting special items in each room. Look at the original furniture, paintings and decor that were a part of Grant’s everyday life. Note the kitchen wood stove and bedroom chamber pots that are typical of the days before modern technology.
Stroll through the verdant grounds. Look for the large statue of Julia Grant, who besides being first lady was also a suffragette and abolitionist.
During his presidency, Grant made Christmas a legal holiday. Visit Galena on the last Saturday before Christmas to see luminaria and decorations throughout the town.
Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site is open Wednesday through Sunday year-round, except several major holidays. Pay a small fee for admission and the tour. Use the free parking spaces designated for visitors.
Downtown Galena, just across the Galena River from Grant Home, has a variety of shops and restaurants. Walk there easily in 15 minutes. On the way, view the regal statue of Ulysses S. Grant in Grant Park.