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The Lake News Online
  • Day trippin': A window to the past

  • One of the most awesome experiences when visiting White Haven in suburban St. Louis is to stand and look out the same window, the same window panes that Ulysses S. Grant looked through when he lived at the farm.
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    • Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
      7400 Grant Road Grantwood Village
      Free Tours 9am-4:30pm daily
      Located 1/3 mile off Gravois Rd (Hwy 30)
      Phone: 314-842-1867
      www.nps.gov/ulsg

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      Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

      7400 Grant Road Grantwood Village

      Free Tours 9am-4:30pm daily

      Located 1/3 mile off Gravois Rd (Hwy 30)

      Phone: 314-842-1867

      www.nps.gov/ulsg

  • One of the most awesome experiences when visiting White Haven in suburban St. Louis is to stand and look out the same window, the same window panes that Ulysses S. Grant looked through when he lived at the farm.
    Nearly ten acres of the 1,000-acre plantation that was the childhood home of Julia Dent, the woman who Grant married, has been preserved. Guests will get a glimpse of 19th-century country life when visiting White Haven. Presently, in addition to the main house, a stone summer kitchen, an icehouse, a chicken house, and a horse stable are on the property. The home is not furnished. The Grant family furniture was stored in a nearby barn. All was lost when the barn burned. The visitor center has a theater, exhibits, and park office for information.
    In 1820, the Hunt family sold the home to "Colonel" Frederick Dent, a St. Louis attorney, businessman, and father of Grant's West Point roommate. The Dent family rented a home in what is now downtown St. Louis and used the Gravois Creek property as a summer home. Colonel Dent named the property "White Haven" after his family's home in Maryland. The name has no relation to the color of the house. White Haven is painted in the same green color as it was when Ulysses and Julia lived on the farm.
    By the 1850s, Dent owned 18 slaves who lived and worked at White Haven. Julia Dent recalled childhood memories of slave children as her playmates. After returning home from boarding school, Julia noted the transition of these children from playmate to servant. During Grant’s management of the farm he worked side by side with one of the slaves given to Julia at birth. In 1859, Grant freed William Jones, the only slave he is known to have owned. Missouri Constitutional Convention abolished slavery in the state in January 1865, freeing any slaves still living at White Haven.
    Grant visited White Haven in 1843 while he was assigned to Jefferson Barracks. It was there he met Julia. They married in 1848. Julia left White Haven to become an Army wife. She returned home to give birth to two of their four children. They returned to White Haven to make it their permanent home.
    Their ‘hardscrabble’ cabin was completed in three days and sat near the main house. Within three months they had moved into White Haven. Julia’s mother died leaving Julia to care for her father and sisters, as well as her own family.
    During the Civil War Julia and the children spent much of their time at White Haven with Grant visiting them when on leave. In 1863 the Grants began purchasing the White Haven property from Colonel Dent. After the war the Grants relocated to Washington D.C. because of his military duties but they often returned to White Haven.
    Page 2 of 2 - After losing his finances in a “ponzi scheme,” Grant lost ownership of White Haven when it was used to pay off a personal debt to, railroader, William Henry Vanderbilt in 1884. Grant died a year later in 1885 of throat cancer.
    Julia's last visit to White Haven was in 1894 when she attended a social function held by Luther Conn who had purchased the property in 1888. Julia spent her remaining years in Washington D.C. where, supported by the sales of Ulysses' memoirs, she lived in comfort until her death in 1902. 
    By 1913, the house was owned by the Wenzlick family. In the 1980s, the Wenzlick property was to be sold and demolished as part of a housing development. In 1989 the site was designated a National Historic Landmark and is part of the National Park Service.

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