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The Project

About the Julia & Ulysses S. Grant Home Project

The Julia and Ulysses S. Grant Home is an 1836 two-story Greek Revival house that was originally located near present-day Lafayette Park on Detroit's near lower east side. Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War General and U. S. President, and his wife Julia Dent Grant made it their home when he was stationed in Detroit from 1849 to 1850. The house was preserved and moved to the Michigan State Fairgrounds in 1936, where it was operated as a museum into the mid-twentieth century.

When the State of Michigan transferred the fairgrounds to the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority in 2012, state legislators made moving and preserving the house a condition of the transfer.  As the state's history agency, the Michigan History Center (part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources), was given responsibility for preserving and interpreting the house.

In August 2020, with funding from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the house was moved from the fairgrounds to its new, permanent location in Detroit's Eastern Market where it awaits rehabilitation and a new purpose.

The Michigan History Foundation is leading the effort to secure the funding needed to fully renovate the home so it can open to the public. Learn how you can help.

In the meantime, the Michigan History Center, along with core project partners Eastern Market and Keep Growing Detroit, are beginning a comprehensive research and community input process. Over the next year, we will hold meetings and listening sessions with historians, community members, business owners, nonprofits, cultural and arts organizations and more to identify the themes and stories the home will share and determine how it will be used to inspire curiosity and dialogue about Detroit, Michigan and the U.S., then and now.

Exploring the Grants' Life and Legacy

The Michigan History Center has committed to developing, with broad community and scholarly input, a place where people of all ages can explore the lives and legacies of Julia and Ulysses S. Grant.  We are committed to developing detailed plans for the house through a collaborative process.

ULYSSES S. GRANT AND JULIA DENT GRANT

The following resources provide biographical information about the couple, and overviews of Ulysses' roles in the Civil War and as President of the United States.

THE GRANTS AND SLAVERY

The house will also explore the Grants experience with major social issues of their time, including their complicated connections to American chattel slavery. Ulysses grew up in a northern abolitionist family in Ohio. Julia's family were slaveholders from Missouri. For a time after their stay in Detroit but before the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant owned and then freed William Jones, an enslaved man. Julia owned at least four enslaved people - Eliza, Dan, Jules and John - throughout the Civil War. After the war, Grant was committed to reconstruction and the passing of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. For more information on Grant's connection to slavery, visit these resources:

ULYSSES S. GRANT AND FEDERAL INDIAN POLICY

The home will also explore Grant's complicated actions and policies regarding Native Americans. He generally believed in assimilationist policies that forced indigenous communities to learn the ways of mainstream society, including farming, Christianity and the English language. Some historians argue that his intentions were good, but the impact of these policies - and the resulting military conflicts, violence, and efforts to eliminate Indigenous cultural practice and beliefs through Indian Schools - resulted in destruction of Native American lifeways and culture. For more information on Grant's American Indian policies and their short- and long-term impact, visit these resources:

Look Around

Black and white line engraving of a two-story clapboard home in Greek Revival style, circa 1860.

The second story of the home, pictured here around 1860, did not fully extend to the back of the first floor.

 

An 1850 Detroit map shows the home's original location. Today, this part of Fort Street is gone.

A sepia toned historic image of a two-story clapboard home, draped in swaths of dark fabric..

When U.S. Grant died in 1885, Detroiters turned the home into a memorial by draping it with black bunting and fabric

A two-story clapboard home with light walls and dark trim sits behind a picket fence, circa 1906.

By 1906 the rear portion of the second story had been extended to cover the entire first story.

A hand-colored postcard shows a pink-hued two story clapboard home. A large bush obscures most of the front of the home.

This colorized postcard of the home, circa 1910, promoted the home as a tourist attraction.

Caution tape surrounds a two-story white clapboard home with boarded windows and peeling paint.

The home was moved to the former Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit in 1936 where it became a museum.

A construction lift sits along the side of a two-story white clapboard home with peeling paint.

Prior to the move, construction workers carefully removed lead paint and asbestos from the exterior and interior.

A two-story clapboard home with freshly painted white walls and boarded windows.

After the environmental abatement, the exterior walls were covered in a fresh layer of primer.

A large crane lists the second story of a two-story clapboard home off the first story.

To prepare for the 15-mile move, the second story was carefully separated and lifted off the first story..

 

The first and second stories prior to loading on to two tractor trailers in July 2020.

Two crewmen lift traffic lights in order for the home, loaded onto trailers, to pass underneath.

With the house divided, crewman simply lifted traffic lights up when the trucks passed underneath.

Two halves of a home are trucked down a wide street, toward the camera.

The 15-mile move took nearly four hours. Here, the home was nearing Eastern Market at Gratiot and Mack Avenues..

A U-shaped band of concrete was poured at the bottom of a rectangular pit.

Before the move, construction workers dug out the crawl space and poured the footings for the foundation at Eastern Market.

The first floor of a white clapboard home is slowly being lifted onto a new cinder block foundation

The first story was lifted by a crane and set upon the new cinder block foundation in September 2020,

A crane gently places the second story of a two-story white clapboard house onto the first story.

The two stories of the home were reunited at the corner of Orleans and Wilkins Street in October 2020.

A two story home is shrink-wrapped from top to bottom in opaque gray-white plastic.

Awaiting renovation the home was wrapped in plastic to protect it from the weather in December 2020..

 

Updated 08/04/2021