James A. Garfield National Historic Site8095 Mentor Ave
Mentor, OH 44060-5753
The President at Home: Lawnfield
Born in a log cabin near Moreland Hills, James A. Garfield became the 20th President of the United States after serving in the Ohio General Assembly and as a brigadier general during the Civil War.
Raised in poverty by his mother, Garfield left home at the age of 16 seeking work on the canals. When illness forced him to abandon life as a boatman, he returned home to study languages and elocution. After teaching for a few years, he began to contemplate a career in politics; to prepare, he studied law and served as President of Hiram College.
In 1876, Garfield built a house on 160 acres outside Mentor, both as a retreat from public life and so that his sons could learn about farming. Yet, four years later, during his presidential campaign, the property was so crowded with journalists camping on its lawns, the Garfields named it Lawnfield. Long before the term was popularized by another Ohio presidential candidate, Garfield launched the first front porch campaign, speaking to thousands of supporters from the verandah of the house.
Notes for Travelers
Lawnfield remained in the Garfield family until 1936, when the Garfield children donated the house and its contents to the National Park Service. The house museum contains nearly 80% of its original furnishings. A visitor center includes exhibits on the life and career of Garfield, as well as a video installation highlighting his achievements as President. The National Park Service offers guided tours of the home, as well as other activities such as lectures and encampments. As educated, erudite individuals, James and Lucretia hosted gatherings that featured popular writers, a tradition carried on by the Friends of the James A. Garfield Historic Site.