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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.
- "Ulysses S. Grant: Life Before the Presidency" by Joan Waugh, Miller Center at UVA
- "Julia Dent Grant" by The White House
- "Ulysses S. Grant in the Civil War" by American Battlefield Trust
- "Ulysses S. Grant: The 18th President of the United States" by The White House
- "A Short Overview of the Reconstruction Era and Ulysses S. Grant's Presidency" by Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
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:
- "Sunlight and Shadows" (video) by Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
- "The Formerly Enslaved Household of the Grant Family" by Sarah Fling, White House Historical Association
- "William Jones" by Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
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:
- "President Ulysses S. Grant and Federal Indian Policy" by Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
- "Reconstructing Approaches to America's Indian Problem" by Alexandra E. Stern, U.S. History Scene
- "Ulysses S. Grant: Mass Genocide Through Permanent Peace Policy" by Alysa Landry, Indian Country Today.
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.
When U.S. Grant died in 1885, Detroiters turned the home into a memorial by draping it with black bunting and fabric
By 1906 the rear portion of the second story had been extended to cover the entire first story.
This colorized postcard of the home, circa 1910, promoted the home as a tourist attraction.
The home was moved to the former Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit in 1936 where it became a museum.
Prior to the move, construction workers carefully removed lead paint and asbestos from the exterior and interior.
After the environmental abatement, the exterior walls were covered in a fresh layer of primer.
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.
With the house divided, crewman simply lifted traffic lights up when the trucks passed underneath.
The 15-mile move took nearly four hours. Here, the home was nearing Eastern Market at Gratiot and Mack Avenues..
Before the move, construction workers dug out the crawl space and poured the footings for the foundation at Eastern Market.
The first story was lifted by a crane and set upon the new cinder block foundation in September 2020,
The two stories of the home were reunited at the corner of Orleans and Wilkins Street in October 2020.
Awaiting renovation the home was wrapped in plastic to protect it from the weather in December 2020..