The historic Detroit house of Ulysses S. Grant finds a new home at Eastern Market

Aug 8, 2019

 

Civil War history continues to fascinate people almost 160 years later. And while Michigan played a major role in deciding the outcome of the conflict, you typically have to travel outside of Michigan to connect with a tangible aspect of its history. 

But General Ulysses S. Grant, who would later become the nation's 18th president, and his wife Julia actually lived in Detroit prior to the war. The house they called home is still within the city limits.

The director of the Michigan History Center, Sandra Clark, and Grant House enthusiast Laura Raisch joined Stateside to talk about the house's history and its recent move to Eastern Market. 

The house was built in 1837 and is one of the oldest home still standing in Michigan. Julia and Ulysses S. Grant were newlyweds when they moved into the house in April of 1849. Ulysses had a horse he liked to race up and down a nearby street while both of them would pick fresh fruit off trees. 

“The only thing that Julia and Ulysses noted in their letters to one another and their letters to friends was the fruit and vegetables,” Raisch said. “The ability to walk outside of their porch and have grapes and pears and peaches.”

 The couple lived there while Ulysses was serving as Quartermaster at the Detroit Barracks. They left in the spring of 1851, but the sentimentality of the house remained. When Ulysses passed away, Detroit was one of the first cities to send its condolences. 

The house was moved in 1936 to the annual State Fair grounds, and then again in 1957 to another location at the fairgrounds. When the fair shutdown in 2008, the house was boarded up and there were some problems with maintenance. 

Now, the house is on its way to Detroit’s Eastern Market. The effort to move it to Eastern Market started when the fairgrounds closed, and the Michigan History Center became involved in its relocation. Both Raisch and Clark believe that Eastern Market is the best place for a permanent home.

Now, they say, the home will be closer to its previous location — and Ulysses and Julia's beloved fresh fruit and vegetables — again. 

This post was written by production assistant Catherine Nouhan

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