Annual Grant lecture cancelled and early Grant house threatened

The country’s 18th president is in the news again, but this time it has nothing to do with the Civil War that made him famous or the sesquicentennial observance of that war.

The fifth annual Ulysses S. Grant Lecture and John Y. Simon Day in St. Louis scheduled for Saturday at the U.S. Grant National Historic Site has been canceled due to the federal shutdown.

The lecture, titled “Educating a General: U.S. Grant’s Preparation for West Point,” was to be given by William C. Davis, Virginia Tech history professor and program director for the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. The location was the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site that is closed because of the budget impasse, and as the lecture was sponsored by the Grant historic site, it could not be moved to another location.

Also, in Detroit, a plain clapboard house the Grants rented in 1849, a year after they married, was moved twice in order to preserve it, but now its future is uncertain. Its neighborhood changed from residential to commercial in the eight decades since the Grants lived there. And in 1937, in order to save it, the house was moved to the state fairgrounds. Over a 20-year period, the house was carefully restored and opened to visitors.

According to a story in the Detroit News, the house was moved again in 1958 but stayed within the fairgrounds. Some time after that, all the furniture, including a bed the Grants may have owned, was removed, and for many years the building was used for storage.

However, there is interest in continuing to preserve the building, and so it will be moved yet again, but the new site has not been chosen. This third move is caused by yet another changing neighborhood. The fairgrounds property has been sold, and the development plans do not include the house.

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