The James A. Garfield Monument, Cleveland, Ohio
The burial site of James A. Garfield, America’s 20th President, is marked by this large stone mausoleum and monument in Lakeview Cemetery on Cleveland’s near East Side.
Born in 1831 in a log cabin in Orange Township, Ohio (a replica of which stands today near the city offices of Moreland Hills), Garfield spent much of his early life in northeastern Ohio. An accomplished student, he attended, taught at, and eventually became principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in Hiram, Ohio, which survives today as Hiram College. Garfield’s legacy lives on in Hiram’s Garfield Institute for Public Leadership.
Garfield was an ambidextrous teacher, minister and lawyer who developed his muscles juggling Indian clubs. Upon being asked a question, he was also reportedly able to simultaneously write the answer in Latin with one hand and in Ancient Greek with the other. He went on to serve as an Ohio state senator, a major general in the Union Army during the Civil War, and as a Representative in the U. S. Congress, before rising to the Presidency by way of the election of 1880. He ran the first front-porch campaign for President from his Mentor, Ohio, home of Lawnfield, now the James A. Garfield National Historic Site run by the National Park Service.
As President, Garfield was able to serve his country for only 200 days, before being cut down on July 2, 1881 by the bullets of assassin Chares Guiteau, a disgruntled Federal office seeker. In addition to his Cleveland monument, Garfield is commemorated in a monumental statue in Washington, D.C., as well as one of sandstone on the grounds of Hiram College, and others in Bodie, CA, and within San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers. His likeness also appeared on the 1886 $20 Gold Certificate, as well as a 6-cent U.S. stamp issued in 1922.
Designed by architect George Keller, the Garfield monument is a castle-like squat cylindrical peaked tower atop a foursquare base, 180 feet in height and rendered in dark sandstone. Peering down from a small hill at the upper portion of the cemetery, it dominates the burial grounds. The monument is decorated with five of sculptor Caspar Buberl’s terra cotta bas-relief panels chronicling Garfield’s life.
The crypt level contains the flag-draped coffins of both Garfield and his wife, Lucretia, while adjacent urns hold the remains of their daughter and son-in-law. The monument’s main floor is an elaborate mosaic composition, and marble columns and stained glass complete the presentation.
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