Learning Lincoln On-line

FROM-- SET SEVEN, CIVIL WAR STUDIES

General U.S. Grant Learning Activity-- U.S. Grant and Julia Grant National Memorial & Tomb, New York City, New York

**Click Here to see The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial located on the west side of the U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C.

 

General Grant National Memorial Tomb From Wikipedia

U.S. National Register of Historic Places

Location

Riverside Drive and West 122nd Street, Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York City

Built

April 27, 1897

Architect

John H. Duncan

Architectural style

Neoclassical

 

Grant's Tomb, officially the General Grant National Memorial, is the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, and his wife, Julia Grant-- It is a classical domed mausoleum, located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City. The structure is located in the median of Riverside Drive at 122nd Street, across from Riverside Church and Riverside Park.

1885-- On Grantís death, his widow declared that he had wished to be buried in New York, and a new committee, the Grant Monument Association, appealed for funds. Progress was slow at first, since many believed that the tomb should be in Washington D.C., and because there was no architectural design to show.

Napoleonís tomb at Les Invalides

 

Architect Chosen-- Eventually they selected a proposal by John Hemenway Duncan for a tomb of "unmistakably military character", modeled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, with twin sarcophagi based on Napoleonís tomb at Les Invalides.

 

1897-- The tomb was completed in 1897, and has been under the management of the National Park Service since 1958. After a period of neglect, it has been restored and rededicated.

 

July 23, 1885-- History of the Memorial, Grant died of throat cancer at age 63 in Wilton, New York. Within hours of Grant's death, William Russell Grace, the Mayor of New York City, sent a telegram to Julia offering New York City to be the burial ground for both Grant and Julia.

1885-- Military Cemeteries not wanted-- Grant's only real wish when he died was to be next to his wife when he was buried. In practice this eliminated all military cemeteries and installations (such as West Point) from consideration, as they did not permit women to be interred at the time.

1885-- Grant's family agreed to have his remains interred in New York City.

 

1885-- Grace wrote a letter to prominent New Yorkers the following day, to gather support for a national monument in Grant's honor:

Dear Sir: In order that the City of New York, which is to be the last resting place of General Grant, should initiate a movement to provide for the erection of a National Monument to the memory of the great soldier, and that she should do well and thoroughly her part, I respectfully request you to as one of a Committee to consider ways and means for raising the quota to be subscribed by the citizens of New York City for this object, and beg that you will attend a meeting to be held at the Mayor's office on Tuesday next, 28 inst., at three o'clock ...

 

1885-- A Memorial Committee Formed (GMA)-- The preliminary meeting was attended by 85 New Yorkers who established the Committee on Organization. Its chairman was former President Chester A. Arthur. The organization would come to be known as the Grant Monument Association (GMA).

1885-- Funding Donations-- The Grant Monument Association did not originally announce the function or structure of the monument; however, the idea of any monument in Grant's honor drew public support. Western Union donated $5,000 on July 29, the day the committee announced its proposal. The GMA continued to receive donations of large and small amounts.

February 4, 1888-- Design Competition, after a year's delay, the GMA publicly announced the details of a design competition, in a newsletter entitled "To Artists, Architects, and Sculptors". This information was made public to the entire nation; it was also published in Europe. The GMA also proposed a new estimate for the monument's cost, which ranged from $500,000 to $1,000,000. The deadline for all designs was rescheduled three times and was then set for a final date of January 10, 1889.

1890-- Architect Chosen the Grant Memorial Association selected, from only five commissioned entries, the design of John Hemenway Duncan, who estimated his design would cost between $496,000 and $900,000. Duncan cited as his design's objective: "to produce a monumental structure that should be unmistakably a tomb of military character." He wanted to avoid "resemblance of a habitable dwelling" as the structure was meant to be the epitome of reverence and respect.


 

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

 

Grant's tomb's granite exterior is modeled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus with Persian elements and but for the Ionic order, it resembles the Tropaeum Alpium. Within the tomb, the twin sarcophagi of Grant and his wife Julia are based on the sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides.

A back view of Grants Memorial Tomb, NYC

 

1891-- Grant's Tomb Ground-breaking, by 1890, the GMA had a defined design and architect. In October 1890, U.S. Senator Hale introduced legislation to have the sarcophagi placed at a monument in Washington, DC. The legislation did not pass, but the effort reopened the debate over the proper place for the remains of Grant. A groundbreaking ceremony had already been scheduled for April 27, 1891, In June 1891, deliberations ended; the monument was to be built in New York City, and that month, the GMA hired a contractor named John T. Brady.

1892-- Construction Began that summer, and by August, preliminary excavation was complete. Construction was on schedule until the GMA asked Duncan to alter his design in the spring of 1892; the design could not be as elaborate as originally planned because of the Association's inability to raise the sufficient funds. Construction was also slowed by a stonecutters' strike in 1892.

Guastavino Style Tile Vaulting-- Ceiling

 

1897-- One innovative feature of the tomb construction is the use of Guastavino tile vaulting to support the circular floor above the perimeter of the downstairs atrium.  On April 17, 1897, Grant's remains were quietly transferred to an 8.5-ton red granite sarcophagus and placed in the mausoleum. The monument was dedicated ten days later on April 27, 1897, on the 75th-anniversary ceremony of Grant's birth on April 27, 1822.  Julia Dent Grant, Grant's wife of nearly 40 years, died five years later in 1902 and was placed in a matching sarcophagus and laid to rest in the mausoleum beside her husband.

1930's-- Decay and Restoration WPA Helps-- The initial restoration project began in December 1935 (38 years after the tomb opened), when Works Progress Administration laborers installed new marble flooring in the atrium. The WPA played a large role in sustaining the monument. Joan Waugh explains that "In the 1930s the tomb was barely maintained by funds from the Works Progress Administration." Shortly after the restoration project began, the old New York City Post Office was being demolished and donated two statues of eagles to decorate the front of the Grant Monument.

1930's-- The laborers of the WPA worked on several projects throughout the 1930s, including roof restoration, electric lighting and heating systems, and removing the purple stained glass windows. The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company installed amber glass to replace the purple stained glass.

Late 1930's-- Toward the end of the 1930s, a project began to restore the two reliquary rooms, where battle flags were displayed in trophy cases, and murals of the wars Grant had fought in were painted on the walls.

In 1938, the Federal Art Project Selected Artists-- William Mues and Jeno Juszko to design the busts of William T. Sherman, Phillip H. Sheridan, George H. Thomas, James B. McPherson, and Edward Ord. The WPA installed five busts in the circular wall of the atrium surrounding the sarcophagi. After the many contributions of the WPA, the Grant Monument Association held a re-dedication of the tomb on April 27, 1939. 

1958-- National Park Service Granted Authority over the Monument-- The National Park Service (NPS) was granted authority to oversee the monument. According to an NPS report, an historian admitted that when the NPS first assumed authority over the tomb, they "had no program for the site."

1970's-- Vandalism and Graffiti-- Many places in the city, including Times Square, were in the same condition. Trash had heaped up around the monument; its exterior recesses were being used by drug users, the homeless, and criminals for hideouts. Graffiti covered the walls and pedestals, and vandals chipped away at the masonry at will. The NPS undertook a plan to remove the trophy cases in the reliquary rooms.

1960's-1990's-- Combined with the devastation that New York City was going through financially in the 1960s to the 1990s, that led to great negligence of the site, particularly in the maintenance of the monument.

NPS 1990s restoration-- The abuse of the monument continued until renewed restoration efforts began in the early 1990s; in 1991, Frank Scaturro, a student at Columbia University and volunteer with the NPS, launched an effort to restore the tomb and brought his concerns to Congress. The tomb was still marred by graffiti and, at the time, there were only three maintenance workers and three rangers on daytime duty, with a yearly budget of $235,000.

1992-- For over two years, Scaturro battled the National Park Service, which was charged with maintaining Grant's Tomb. He sent weekly memos, including a 26-page report in the summer of 1992. After two years of unsuccessful attempts to navigate the bureaucracy of the National Park Service, Scaturo published a 325-page whistleblower report, which he sent to Congress and the President. Scaturro's efforts drew national media attention and resulted in a $1.8 million grant to restore Grant's Tomb. Frank Scaturro's efforts to expose the monument's poor condition caught the attention of two Illinois state lawmakers. State Sen. Judy Baar Topinka and State Rep. Ron Lawfer sponsored a resolution to compel the National Park Service to meet its obligations in maintaining and restoring Grant's tomb.

1994- If the NPS did not comply, then Topinka and Lawfer demanded that Grant's remains be transported to the state of Illinois. Senator Topinka said, "He would be better off anywhere than New York, but my argument is not with New York; it's with the National Park Service."

The demands for restoration did not stop at the state level. In 1994, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation to "restore, complete, and preserve in perpetuity the Grant's Tomb National Memorial and surrounding areas."

1997-- The legislation set by the House required that the restoration be completed by April 27, 1997, the tomb's 100th anniversary and Grant's 175th birthday. On April 27, 1997, the restoration effort sanctioned by Congress was completed and the tomb re-dedicated. General Grant's descendants, who were appalled by the conditions of the tomb, called Scaturro a hero for his efforts. A sculpture consisting of seventeen concrete benches bearing colorful mosaics was created around the monument in the early 1970s (by local artisans).

1958-- National Park Service Granted Authority over the Monument-- In 1958, the National Park Service (NPS) was granted authority to oversee the monument. According to an NPS report, an historian admitted that when the NPS first assumed authority over the tomb, they "had no program for the site."

Grant Memorial Tomb Badly Neglected-- Combined with the devastation that New York City was going through financially in the 1960s to the 1990s, that led to great negligence of the site, particularly in the maintenance of the monument.

1990's National Park Service Restoration--

1991- The Abuse of the Monument Continued-- until renewed restoration efforts began in the early 1990s; in 1991, Frank Scaturro, a student at Columbia University and volunteer with the NPS, launched an effort to restore the tomb and brought his concerns to Congress. The tomb was still marred by graffiti and, at the time, there were only three maintenance workers and three rangers on daytime duty, with a yearly budget of $235,000.

1992- Maintenance of Tomb Attempts-- For over two years, Scaturro battled the National Park Service, which was charged with maintaining Grant's Tomb. He sent weekly memos, including a 26-page report in the summer of 1992. After two years of unsuccessful attempts to navigate the bureaucracy of the National Park Service, Scaturo published a 325-page whistleblower report, which he sent to Congress and the President. Scaturro's efforts drew national media attention and resulted in a $1.8 million grant to restore Grant's Tomb.

Scaturro's efforts to expose the monument's poor condition-- caught the attention of two Illinois state lawmakers. State Sen. Judy Baar Topinka and State Rep. Ron Lawfer sponsored a resolution to compel the National Park Service to meet its obligations in maintaining and restoring Grant's tomb.

Maintenance Non-Compliance Threat-- If the NPS did not comply, then Topinka and Lawfer demanded that Grant's remains be transported to the state of Illinois. Senator Topinka said, "He would be better off anywhere than New York, but my argument is not with New York; it's with the National Park Service."  The demands for restoration did not stop at the state level. In 1994, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation to "restore, complete, and preserve in perpetuity the Grant's Tomb National Memorial and surrounding areas."

The Legislation Set by the U.S. House-- required that the restoration be completed by April 27, 1997, the tomb's 100th anniversary and Grant's 175th birthday. On April 27, 1997, the restoration effort sanctioned by Congress was completed and the tomb re-dedicated. General Grant's descendants, who were appalled by the conditions of the tomb, called Scaturro a hero for his efforts. A sculpture consisting of seventeen concrete benches bearing colorful mosaics was created around the monument in the early 1970s.

 

The Tomb Today-- Check npplan website for pictures. (Click the link)

 

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