The Garfield Trail
Image: James A. Garfield Statue
Hiram College is proud to be part of the Garfield Trail, a compilation of four historic sites in Northeast Ohio that hold significant importance to the 20th President of the United States. The four locations identified on the trail include: Moreland Hills Historical Society, birthplace of President Garfield; Hiram College, where President Garfield served as principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute; James A. Garfield National Historic Site, home of President Garfield during his time as a congressman and presidential campaign; and Lake View Cemetery, final resting place of President Garfield.
James A. Garfield Birth Site Park
Abram and Eliza Ballou Garfield purchased land in Orange Township, Ohio (now Moreland Hills) and built a log cabin. Here, their youngest child – and future US President – James Abram, was born on November 19, 1831. Shortly before he turned two years old, his father died fighting a forest fire on their property. Today, a replica cabin is located on the Moreland Hills Village Campus. A trail leads to the original site where visitors learn how these woods shaped young James to become a teacher, preacher, lawyer, politician, and family man. For more information, please visit: mhhsohio.org
James A. Garfield attended school, preached, married, taught, and began his political career in Hiram, Ohio. Established in 1850 as a coeducational, non–denominational institution of higher learning, the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute became Hiram College. James and wife, Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, lived near the school for many years in a home on Hinsdale Street. Four of their seven children were born here. Visit Hiram and walk in the same steps as a young Garfield did. Today, the college library contains a Garfield collection of letters, photos, and artifacts in their archives.
Hiram’s Political Science Department is housed in the historic Koritansky Hall, a classic church that was moved from Mecca, Ohio. The church was at one time home to a parish under the guidance of former President Garfield. The building was painstakingly dismantled and restored on the College’s campus
In 2008 William Recker, a Hiram College Board of Trustee member, donated funds for the relocation, renovation and restoration of the former Church of Christ from Mecca, Ohio. In 2012, Recker made another generous gift to the Garfield Center, and in doing so he chose to create a permanent legacy honoring Professor John Koritansky by re-naming the meeting house to Koritansky Hall. John Koritansky, Ph.D., has taught at Hiram College as a professor of Political Science for 42 years.
In front of Koritansky Hall is a statue of James A. Garfield. The Martin Family, led by the family patriarch Paul E. Martin, has a legacy of generosity. Sons, Fred Martin ’64 and James Martin ’65, along with Jim’s wife, Karen (Wierwille) Martin ’64, have carried on the Martin family legacy at Hiram College with their own benevolence and advocacy. One of Paul’s last acts of philanthropy was to purchase the statue of Garfield that stands on the College’s campus.
Garfield Robbins Zimmerman Home
Built in 1853 and owned by the Garfield family from 1863 to 1874, the Garfield Robbins Zimmerman Home was in use by the former U.S. president after he served as principal of what was then the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College) and during part of his 18-years of service in Congress.
Thanks to the generosity of the Peskin family, John and Pat Zimmerman, and Norman ’61 and Hanna Kelker, improvements have been made to the Garfield Robbins Zimmerman Home. Work included electrical and support work, fresh paint to both the interior and exterior of the house, sanded and re-stained floors, and a complete porch repair.
The history of Buckingham Place begins the same year that Hiram College does, in 1850, when Colonel John and Esther Hank Buckingham bought a farm in Hiram, Ohio. Their home – now known as Buckingham Place – took form two years later. James A. Garfield, who was then a student at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College), is believed to have worked as a carpenter on the house. In 1935, Buckingham Place was deeded to Hiram College and served as the College president’s residence for several years after.
James A. Garfield National Historic Site
Congressman Garfield and his family moved to Mentor, Ohio in 1876. During his time there, he attended the 1880 Republican National Convention in Chicago to nominate fellow Ohioan John Sherman. Instead, James A. Garfield was nominated as the compromise, dark horse presidential candidate on the 36th ballot. His Mentor Farm, called “Lawnfield” by the newspapers, became a piece of history as the location of the nation’s first presidential Front Porch Campaign. The forerunner of the modern presidential library was created here by his widow, Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, after the 20th US President’s death. To plan your visit or learn more about this National Park Site, visit nps.gov/jaga
Final Resting Place
Lake View Cemetery
James A. Garfield is interred at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. The memorial, standing 180 feet tall, was constructed on the high ground of the cemetery, and is made of Berea sandstone. The vista includes downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie. Garfield’s life is depicted in five panels wrapped around the outside. Inside, a marble statue of the 20th President is the centerpiece of the rotunda. Stained glass, golden mosaics, and colorful marble add symbolic decoration. Visitors can see his and wife Lucretia Rudolph Garfield’s caskets on full display in the lower crypt level. To find out more and to plan your visit, please see lakeviewcemetery.com/visit/garfield-memorial