The 7 American Presidents to visit Long Branch (and their terms in office) are: Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881), James A. Garfield (1881), Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885), Benjamin Harrison (1889-1993), William McKinley, Jr. (1897-1901), and T. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921). Garfield died in Elberon from his assassination wounds.
Although seven American chief executives have visited Long Branch, I was only able to dig deep on two: Presidents Grant and Garfield.
Ulysses S. Grant: 18th American President
Born on April 22, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio, in a log cabin and very poor. Early in life Grant was a indifferent farmer, tanner and solider. Later when he was the most famous man in the world, he would fall in love with Long Branch and spent every summer of his presidency here with his family. His presence made Long Branch into the nation’s first and favorite summer resort.
A natural leader, before Grant even won the Presidency he was the Commanding General of the Union Army that won the Civil War in 1865. The Republican Grant was elected President of the United States in 1868, defeating Democrat Horatio Seymour (a former governor of New York) with nearly 53% of the popular vote and a 214-80 Electoral College margin. Grant lost New Jersey in that race by about 2,800 votes. In 1872, he easily won re-election over Horace Greeley (founder of the New-York Tribune) with nearly 56% of the popular vote and a 286-66 Electoral College blowout. This time he carried NJ with over 15,000 votes.
“I have never seen a place in all my travels better suited for a summer residence.”
—President Grant on Long Branch
Grant was a very complicated fellow. He was personally very honest, yet his administration was one of the most corrupt in history. He fainted at the sight of blood, yet he planned and engaged in some of the most lethal battles in military history. He had a serious drinking problem, and yet remained a steady and expert horseman all his life.
Grant seemed to be a man of simple pleasures. During his time when Long Branch was the “Summer Capitol,” the president liked to rise each morning at 7 am and ride his two-horse buckboard quickly along the oceanfront — sometimes for up to 20 miles. Henry Van Brunt, who owned a bathing pavilion opposite the Mansion House hotel, was a presidential buddy during these Long Branch times. So trusted was Van Brunt that he would drop all his beach club duties to serve the president — mixing his drinks and carving his meat. And exchanging stories.
President US Grant — with house and horse — at Long Branch. His favorite horse team was: “Egypt and Cincinnati.” The two old warhorses (both Kentucky thoroughbreds) were honored and well-cared-for in retirement at Long Branch.
President Grant with family at Long Branch, 1883. An all-too-close observer of Civil War carnage, Grant found “peace and relaxation” at the shore.
The Grants dining at their Long Branch home, 1870s. APP, March 1970. Among the president’s favorite meals were: fried apples and bacon, roast beef (very well done), soft-shelled crabs and bluefish, and rice pudding.
“Grant’s Grounds” — it was a president’s house every summer season from 1869 to 1884.
Commanding General U.S. Grant, 1865. For all the blood on his hands, there’s something gentle in his eyes.
“President Grant and Friends at His Cottage by the Sea.” Long Branch, Summer 1872. At the time he was staying in Long Branch, the President-General was regarded as “the greatest man living.”
President Grant with family and household staff at Long Branch, 1870s.
US Grant with one of his horses, 1850s.
Grant Cottage, early 1900s. He never liked Washington, DC life: “I never wanted to get out of a place as much as I did to get out of the presidency.” — U.S. Grant.
Dead President — U.S. Grant’s face was first put on the $50 bill in 1913. Featured on the fifty before Grant were: Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Henry Clay, and Benjamin Franklin.
Grant Cottage, 1870s. After years of decline and several owners, the house was torn down in 1963.
President U.S. Grant portrait donated to Long Branch by his grandson, General U.S. Grant, III. The son of Frederick Grant, he graduated from West Point with Douglas MacArthur in 1903. He died in 1968.
President Grant with his son and wife at Long Branch, 1872.
President Grant with his wife, Julia, and his father-in-law, Frederick Dent, at the Long Branch cottage, 1872.
President Grant dances at the Grand Ball given in his honor at the Stetson House hotel, July 1869. Civil War heroes Generals Phil Sheridan and Bill Sherman were among the 400 guests. (C.G. Bush Drawing).
The President surely loved the beach — here with his family in the surf at Long Branch, August 1869.
US Grant’s Cottage postcard, 1914. Wealthy benefactors paid $32,000 for the house and gifted it to the president and family.
US Grant Cottage, 1867. The house was a gift from George W. Childs, a rich Philadelphia newspaper man, who owned a nearby cottage.
President Grant’s cottage, 1880s. The 28-room seashore cottage was built in 1866.
President Grant cottage, early 1900s. “A mixture of English villa and Swiss chalet,” according to the New York Tribune.
President Grant’s cottage, 1870. The “Summer White House” where the president wasn’t above smoking cigars and drinking whiskey from his porch.
US Grant upon his graduation from West Point, July 1843.
Grant Cottage, 1907. The architect Howard Potter of New York was popular in the Gilded Age.
President Grant cottage, November 1963. Just before it was demolished.
Grant Cottage being razed, 1963. D’Orsi & D’Orsi were the wreckers. “Once a symbol of elegance” — gone.
Harper’s Weekly cartoon depicting President Grant in Long Branch, 1873.
New-York Tribune cartoon on President Grant and Long Branch, 1870s.
US Grant and Oscar Wilde in Long Branch. APP, March 1971. The former president and the English poet met each other in Summer 1882.
US Grant in his last years, 1880s.
US Grant works on his memoirs in Mount McGregor, NY, June 1885. The former US president and Union general — riddled with cancer at the time — finished writing less than a month before his death. His two-volume “Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant” was a best-seller and secured his family’s future.
Ulysses S. Grant Information Center — HERE
James A. Garfield: 20th American President
Born on November 19, 1831, on a farm in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Garfield was the last president to be born in a log cabin.
The product of extreme poverty but with a first-rate mind and drive to succeed, Garfield went on to build one of the more impressive pre-president resumes in American history: Lawyer, professor of ancient languages, president of Hiram College, Ohio state senator, Civil War major general, and eight-term US Representative.
“I have always felt the ocean was my friend and the sight of it brings rest and peace.”
—President Garfield on Long Branch
Garfield won the 1880 US presidential election by defeating Winfield Scott Hancock, the Sandy Hook fort namesake and heroic Civil War general. The Republican Garfield topped the Democrat Hancock by fewer than 10,000 votes out more than 9.2 million cast nationally. He captured the Electoral College by 214-155. In winning the presidency, Garfield lost New Jersey by about 2,000 votes.
He served less than 4 months as president before the assassination attempt by Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881 at the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, DC (the president was unguarded). After languishing in hot, humid Washington for two months, the president was moved to Long Branch in the hopes the shore conditions would aid his recovery. After briefly improving he died in Elberon on September 19, 1881. The most likely cause of death was infection, not a bullet wound. The president with so much promise was dead at just 49.
President James Garfield Monument, 1921 postcard.
Photo taken by Mrs. Lucretia Garfield at Long Branch a few days before her husband was shot, June 1881. The president called her “Crete” — she outlived him by nearly 36 years.
“Francklyn Cottage” in Elberon, 1912. President James Garfield died here in September 1881.
President Garfield’s statue by the sea. Dedicated in September 1918 in Ocean Park on Ocean Avenue (later Garfield Park). Festivities included a parade of several thousand. A son of the slain president represented the family: Harry Garfield, who as a 17-year-old had witnessed his father’s shooting in Washington, DC. Brilliant like his father, Harry went on to become president of Williams College (his father-president’s alma mater).
President James A. Garfield (1831- 1881).
President Garfield’s monument in the park, 1954.
President Garfield with family, 1881.
President Garfield statue and memorial park, 1960s. The 7-feet bronze statue is a Carl Schweizer design. It remained in Garfield Park until 1989 when it was moved to its current location on the promenade by the Ocean Place Hotel.
Scene of the Crime — President James Garfield is shot by Charles Guiteau in Washington, DC, July 1881. He would died in Long Branch two months later.
“Francklyn Cottage” in Elberon, 1906.
President Garfield statue and memorial park, 1950s. It stood near City Stadium for many years. The city donated the parkland for a Garfield monument in April 1907.
Arrival of special train carrying the ill President Garfield at Elberon station, Sept. 1881.
President Garfield statue in front of the old Long Branch stadium, 1930s.
President Garfield statue watches over the city oceanfront promenade, 2019. It was moved to its present site in 1989 at a cost of $8,400. Technically on the grounds of a private hotel, the land was once the seven-acre oceanfront Garfield Park and before that, Ocean Park.
President Garfield statue — with an ocean view, 2000.
Mrs. Garfield’s “lonely devotions” over her dead husband, the President of the United States, September 1881
Long Branch Daily Record front page on the President Garfield statue dedication, September 3, 1918.
President Garfield granite marker at his death spot in Elberon, 2010s. The tablet was placed there in 1959.
“Francklyn Cottage” in Elberon, 1910. It was President Garfield’s summer cottage in the early 1880s
President Garfield memorial monument words in Elberon, 2005.
Garfield Tea House or Hut on the Oliver Byron property (1882-1910). Built from the railroad ties used to create a spur line that transported the ailing president from the Elberon train station to the Francklyn cottage.
Garfield Tea House or Hut on the grounds of the Church of the Presidents in Elberon, 2000s.
Death of an American President in Long Branch, October 1881. “I want to go down by the sea” was the wounded and dying president’s request for Long Branch.
President Garfield’s final moments in Long Branch, Sept. 1881. He lasted just 16 days at the shore.
Artist depiction of President Garfield’s last looks at the sea from his LB cottage, Harper’s Weekly, Sept. 1881. It’s likely the president’s own doctors killed him — health historians believe that with the constant poking and probing of his wound with septic fingers and instruments the doctors made the president’s infection worse and his recovery impossible.
President Garfield’s sick room at the Francklyn cottage, Sept. 1881.
President Garfield’s funeral train, 1881.
President Garfield’s cottage, 1885.
President Garfield’s cottage, 1908.
President Garfield’s cottage, 1881. Known as the Charles Francklyn cottage — it was a 20-room mansion. His family also owned the Cunard Line.
President Garfield died here in Sept. 1881. The house was badly burned in 1914 and torn down in 1920.
President Garfield’s house in Elberon, late 1800s.
President William McKinley
President William McKinley (l) and Vice President Garret Hobart in Long Branch, 1899.
Arrival of President Chester Arthur at the Elberon Station on Sept. 20, 1881 to pay his respects to the late President Garfield.
Church of the Presidents
Church of the Presidents on Ocean Avenue in Elberon, early 1900s.
Church of the Presidents on Ocean Avenue in Elberon, early 1900s.
Church of the Presidents, 1960s.
Church of the Presidents, 1966. Designed by Potter & Robertson — the New York architects were responsible for many of the grand homes in Elberon.
Church of the Presidents, 1991. All seven American presidents who visited Long Branch also worshiped here.
Church of the Presidents, 2021 (New York Times Photo).
Church of the Presidents, 2000s. Consecrated as the St. James Episcopal chapel in June 1879, all services stopped in 1953.
Church of the Presidents sketch, 1964. The building was saved from a wrecker’s ball in 1999 by the Long Branch Historical Museum membership.
Church of the Presidents, 1930s. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Church of the Presidents postcard, 1940s.
Church of the Presidents, 2021. The cornerstone was laid in April 1854 when the Rev. Harry Finch was Rector.