Day 21 – President Garfield’s Library

Garfield's windmill and water tank.

Garfield’s windmill and water tank.

The second floor of Garfield’s former home is where the real gem is, the prototype of what we now know of as a Presidential Library, built by his widow to make sure Garfield’s 200 days in office before he died were not forgotten. Thick criss-crossing beams of light wood adorned the ceiling above the dusty collection of books on every topic he had referred to. A “Memory Room” – a fireproof vault of concrete and steel – was discretely hidden in one large room-sized corner, measuring 15 x 15 and now empty as his papers were donated to the Library of Congress. A flowered wreath remains though, a funeral decoration send by Queen Victoria, and preserved in wax for all eternity in this dimly lit vault.

Behind the main house sits a small house that acted as Garfield’s on-site campaign office, another first, where the media was hosted, and a telegraph line was installed   More oddly, a windmill on a tower stands on the property between the house and the former stables that are now the visitor’s center.  We find out that the windmill is actually a hidden water tank that provided running water to the mansion – a rare luxury in Garfield’s time.

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