Complete Guide to James A Garfield National Historic Site in Ohio including things to do, directions, history, and so much more.
James A Garfield National Historic Site
The James A Garfield National Historic Site preserves the home and estate of the United States 20th President, James Abram Garfield. The site also boasts the first presidential library to be established.
Is James A Garfield National Historic Site worth visiting?
Yes, The park has a truly amazing visitor center filled with information. I would plan a couple of hours to visit the park and visitor center.
History of James A Garfield National Historic Site
The home of the 20th president of the United States, which would come to be known as "Lawnfield” to the press, is significant because it was where Garfield ran his campaign. The presidential campaign of 1880 was the first time a presidential candidate had conducted a successful front porch campaign.
Garfield served as a general during the American Civil War and was a lawyer by trade. Sadly, Garfield was not in office long. Garfield was shot after being president for four months. He died two months later.
Who was James A. Garfield?
James Abram Garfield was born on November 19th, 1831, the fifth child of Abram and Eliza Garfield. The Garfields were not wealthy, so the 20th president was born into poverty, spending his early years in a log cabin on a farm in Ohio.
Garfield's father sadly passed away when he was only 18 months old. Garfield was raised by his mother. The Garfield family was extremely close, despite the hardships they faced. Garfield's mother encouraged him to get a proper education, which he did.
In 1853 Garfield began teaching at the Electric Institute, becoming the head of the college a year later. Garfield was a keen debater, and in 1859 after a public debate over the creation of the universe with an atheist, Garfield was nominated for a Republican seat in the Ohio Senate.
Garfield served in the Senate for two years, during which time tensions began rising between the southern and northern states of America concerning slavery.
Garfield made it clear he did not condone nor support the practice of owning slaves, nor did he support the South's wish to break away from the North.
James A. Garfield During the American Civil War
In 1861 tensions between the North and the South turned violent, with the outbreak of the American Civil War. Garfield left the senate and joined the military. Garfield was made a Lieutenant Colonel and placed in charge of volunteer infantry, who trained at Camp Chase.
Early in the war, Garfield and his men were victorious in the 1862 Battle of Middle Creek, where Garfield and 2,100 men went up against 5,000 Confederates.
In 1863 Garfield fought in the Battle of Chickamauga under the command of General William Rosecrans. It was during the battle that Garfield was promoted to Major General for his bravery. Garfield rode through Confederate lines to ensure the Union evacuation of troops was successful.
Garfield fought in the Civil War for two years but resumed his political career as a Congressman. Garfield served as a Congressman for seventeen years.
James A. Garfield's Presidential Campaign
In 1879, the Republican Party chose Garfield as their presidential candidate for the 1880 election. After the Civil War, the racial issues in the Southern states did not simply disappear. African Americans living in the South were denied many basic rights. They were denied jobs or homes because of the color of their skin.
Garfield supported President Rutherford B. Hayes in handling the matter in the South, which the Democrats seemed to want to inflate. It was Garfield's unwavering support of Hayes which sparked talk of him being the next presidential candidate.
In 1880 Garfield was elected into the United States Senate. At the Republican convention later that year, Garfield was nominated as a presidential candidate in a surprise vote. There is some debate as to whether Garfield knew of the plan to include him in the ballot, or not.
Garfield’s Front Porch Campaign
After the Republican Convention, Garfield returned to his home, on his farm in Ohio, now protected by the National Park Service. Images appeared in the papers of Garfield's return home where he was greeted lovingly by his family, and well-wishers.
Thousands journeyed to Garfield's home throughout his campaign to meet the surprise candidate.
Garfield was a brilliant public speaker and had a passion for people so he broke tradition slightly, and spoke to those who flocked to his front lawn, from his porch.
Before Garfield's campaign, presidential candidates did not openly campaign on their behalf, instead party members and other politicians assumed that role. Garfield changed this by taking a public role in his campaign, which he conducted from his front porch.
Garfield won the presidential election of 1880, becoming president of a nation beginning to heal from the horrors of the Civil War. His party, however, was still bitterly divided.
What Happened to James A Garfield?
When Garfield took office in 1880, there were several problems within the party that he inherited. One such problem was with New York, Senator Roscoe Conkling. The senator was constantly placing pressure on the newly elected Garfield to fill positions in government with New Yorkers.
Garfield decided to challenge Conkling rather than give in to the pressure. Garfield appointed an adversary of Conkling’s to be the Collector at the Port of New York, resulting in Conkling feeling attacked by the president.
Conkling was not the only one to see President Garfield's actions as an attack. One man in particular, Charles Guiteau, believed Garfield's actions threatened the Republican Party. Guiteau believed any threat to the party needed to be eliminated.
After months of stalking President Garfield, Guiteau shot the president in the back and arm on July 2nd, at the Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station. Two months later, Garfield died on September 19th in the presence of his wife and daughter.
Things to know before your visit to James A Garfield National Historic Site
$0.00 - There is no entrance fee to visit the park.
Planning a National Park vacation? America the Beautiful/National Park Pass covers entrance fees for an entire year to all US National Park Sites and over 2,000 Federal Recreation Fee Sites.
The park pass covers everyone in the car for per vehicle sites and for up to 4 adults for per-person sites.
Buy on REI.com and REI will donate 10% of pass proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.
Learn more about National Park Passes for parks that have an entrance fee.
Free Entrance Days -Mark your calendars with the five free entrance days the National Park Service offers annually.
Eastern Time Zone
Pets are allowed on park grounds as long as they are on a leash less than 6 feet in length.
Visitors can join the B.A.R.K. Ranger Program with their dog and get a park dog tag.
Booklets are available at the visitor center.
We had great cell service at the park.
The park is open from 10 am to 5 pm.
There is no public Wi-Fi available at the park.
Insect repellent is always a great idea when outdoors, especially if you are around any body of water.
We use Permethrin Spray on our clothes before our park trips.
Make sure to bring your own water bottle and plenty of water with you. Plastic water bottles are not sold in the park.
There is a fairly good size parking lot near the visitor center.
There are no restaurants within the park.
There are no gas stations within the park.
Drones are not permitted within National Park Sites.
National Park Passport Stamps
National Park Passport stamps can be found in the visitor center.
James A Garfield NHS is part of the 2018 Passport Stamp Set.
The park has 2 stamps:
Underground RR Freedom Network - James A Garfield NHS
James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Mentor, Ohio
Electric Vehicle Charging
There are at least 20 EV Charging stations within 10 miles of Mentor, Ohio.
Details about James A Garfield National Historic Site
Size - 4.9 acres
Check out how the park compares to other National Parks by Size.
December 28, 1980
In 2021, James A Garfield NHS had 20,982 park visitors.
In 2020, James A Garfield NHS had 14,797 park visitors.
In 2019, James A Garfield NHS had 41,305 park visitors.
National Park Address
8095 Mentor Avenue
Mentor, OH 44060
National Park Map
Where is James A Garfield National Historic Site?
James Garfield NHS is located in northern Ohio near Cleveland near the shores of Lake Erie.
Estimated distance from major cities nearby
Cleveland, OH - 23 miles
Akron, OH - 46 miles
Detroit, MI - 191 miles
Pittsburgh, PA - 139 miles
Toledo, OH - 138 miles
Columbus, OH - 161 miles
Where is the National Park Visitor Center?
Cuyahoga Valley National Park - 33 miles
Indiana Dunes National Park - 323 miles
Mammoth Cave National Park - 452 miles
New River Gorge National Park - 312 miles
Shenandoah National Park - 346 miles
Getting to James A Garfield National Historic Site
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)
Erie International Airport (ERI)
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Port Columbus International Airport (CMH)
Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
Willoughby Lost Nation Airport (LNN)
Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF)
Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL)
From I-90, exit at Route 615 (Center Street). Turn left (north) on 615 and follow to Route 20 (Mentor Avenue). Turn left (west) on Route 20. The site is a few blocks down on the right-hand side, immediately after Faith Lutheran Church.
From State Route 2, exit at Route 615. Turn right (south) on 615 and follow to Route 20 (Mentor Avenue). Turn right (west) on Route 20. The site is a few blocks down on the right-hand side, immediately after Faith Lutheran Church.
Best time to visit James A Garfield National Historic Site
The best time to visit the park is late spring through fall when there is hopefully no snow to contend with.
Weather and Seasons
Mentor, Ohio experiences warm humid summers and snowy cold winters.
The warmest weather is from May 30th to September 19th with an average daily temperature above 72 degrees.
The coldest weather is from December 4th to March 12 with an average daily temperature below 44 degrees.
The snowiest month is February with an average snowfall of 3.6 inches.
Best Things to do at James A Garfield National Historic Site
The visitor center is the perfect place to start a visit to the park. There is an 18-minute biographical movie about James Garfield.
The visitor center is located in the Carriage House and Horse Barn behind the Garfield House.
The visitor center has epic interpretive displays that have a ton of information. Plan time to check out the displays and watch the movie.
The Junior Ranger program can be picked up at the visitor center. It is a great way for visitors of all ages to learn more about the park.
The program can be filled out while visiting the visitor center and walking the grounds.
Guided Tour of Garfield House
The park offers guided tours of the Garfield House. You can sign up for the tours at the front desk of the visitor center.
Cell Phone Tour
There are two themed cell phone tours on the grounds of the park.
Dial (440) 230-3952 and enter the number of the stop at your location.
Stops #1-#10 present a general overview of the Garfield site.
Stops #10-#20 cover the 1880 presidential campaign.
Hiking at James A Garfield National Historic Site
Always carry the 10 essentials for outdoor survival when exploring.
There are no hiking trails within the park. There is a path that leads from the visitor center to the historic house and surrounding grounds.
How to beat the crowds at James A Garfield National Historic Site?
We did not experience any crowds while visiting the park. There is a ton of room to explore and move around any groups.
Where to stay when visiting James A Garfield National Historic Site
There are no National Park Lodges within the park.
Lodging is available in Mentor, Ohio and nearby Cleveland.
Residence Inn By Marriott Cleveland Mentor - Take advantage of a free full breakfast, a free grocery shopping service, and dry cleaning/laundry services at Residence Inn By Marriott Cleveland Mentor. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. Free in-room Wi-Fi is available to all guests, along with a fireplace in the lobby and a gym.
Holiday Inn Cleveland Northeast - Mentor - You can look forward to a coffee shop/cafe, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a fireplace in the lobby at Holiday Inn Cleveland Northeast - Mentor, an IHG Hotel. The onsite restaurant, Krave Restaurant, features American cuisine. In addition to a bar and a 24-hour gym, guests can connect to free in-room Wi-Fi.
Best Western Plus Mentor-Cleveland Northeast - You can look forward to a free breakfast buffet, a free daily manager's reception, and dry cleaning/laundry services at Best Western Plus Mentor-Cleveland Northeast. The onsite bistro, Skye Restaurant & Pub, features American cuisine and happy hour. In addition to a fireplace in the lobby and an outdoor entertainment area, guests can connect to free in-room Wi-Fi.
Hampton Inn & Suites Cleveland Mentor - Take advantage of free breakfast, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a gym at Hampton Inn & Suites Cleveland Mentor. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. Free in-room Wi-Fi and a business center are available to all guests.
Four Points by Sheraton Cleveland-Eastlake - A library, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a fireplace in the lobby are just a few of the amenities provided at Four Points by Sheraton Cleveland-Eastlake. Free in-room Wi-Fi is available to all guests, along with a bar and a business center.
Click on the map below to see additional lodging and vacation rentals near the park.
There are no National Park Campgrounds at the park.
For a fun adventure check out Escape Campervans. These campervans have built in beds, kitchen area with refrigerators, and more.
You can have them fully set up with kitchen supplies, bedding, and other fun extras. They are painted with epic designs you can't miss!
Parks Near James A Garfield National Historic Site
Perry's Victory Memorial
Check out all of the National Parks in Ohio along with neighboring National Parks in Indiana, National Parks in Kentucky, National Parks in Michigan, Pennsylvania National Parks, and West Virginia National Parks