May 29, 2015

5/19/15 - Ulysses S Grant NHS

The Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site is southwest of St. Louis. Our always reliable GPS took us just past the official historic site entrance and into Grant's Farm--which we'd never heard of. (If I'd heard of it, I might have included it in our itinerary for the day. It used to be part of the Grant farm, then it was the Busch family estate, and now it's sort of a zoo and where some of the Busch Clydesdales live. ) 

The Visitor Center doesn't seem to fit for this particular park, especially the color. (The building off to the left is the old barn, which now houses the museum. It's a much better color--although I think they should be painted either the same shade or something a little more harmonious since they're next to each other.)
We watched the video, then browsed around in the museum until it was time for the tour of the house. After his graduation from West Point, Ulysses S Grant was assigned to a regiment stationed at Jefferson Barracks, south of St. Louis. While there, he met and courted Julia Dent, whose father owned this house and more than 30 slaves. Ohio-born Grant came from a free state, and his family was against slavery. You wouldn't think that a couple whose families were at opposite ends of the political spectrum would be able to build a relationship, but they managed to build a strong one.
When it was time for the tour, we went out back to the house named "White Haven" originally owned by Julia's father. (Grant ended up buying it from him after the War.) The Ranger tour guide talked to us out front for a bit before we went inside. Even after seeing the paint job on the Visitor Center, I wasn't prepared for the color of the house! I asked who chose the paint, and he assured us that it was the exact shade of a popular 1870s paint color called "Paris Green". Really?  Wouldn't have been my first (second, third or even fourth!) choice...
The Grants furniture didn't make it to the park because it burned in a fire at another building in 1873, so there are a few pieces of furniture representative of the time. Mostly it's pretty empty inside.
We went out the back door, and on the left side of the porch is the old Winter Kitchen. Not much there either.
The Summer Kitchen isn't connected to the house.
The old Ice House is still there--but since they left the door open, there's no ice, of course.
The Chicken House is next to it, and it still smells like chickens. I don't know how long it takes to clear the odor out.
After the tour was over, we stood outside and talked to the Ranger for awhile. He's a really nice guy and very knowledgeable. It always impresses me how much the people who work at the parks research and read on their own time so they can answer any question you throw at them. And they're always so politely neutral when tourists make snarky comments like mine about the paint job on the Visitor Center.

On the way out, there's a reminder of President (then General) Grant's role in the war--a brace of Howitzer cannons.
A few more pictures here:  Ulysses S Grant NHS

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  1. I agree, Mom: Paris Green is hideous. And how long it takes to clear odor out of a chicken house: Cubic footage times [f] (amount in days chickens were cooped [c] times times the quantity of chickens [q]) divided by nostril strength [n] (a sliding scale from 0 for Kirsten Dunst to 5 for Penelope Cruz to 10 for Barbara Steisand). f(cq)/n, obviously.


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