Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

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St. Louis, MO
United States
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

In 1820 Frederick Dent acquired the 141-acre ‘White Haven’ estate, located thirteen miles southwest of St. Louis. The property featured a vernacular antebellum home surrounded by fruit trees and outbuildings. Dent turned the property into a slave plantation and expanded it to include 862 acres. Future President Ulysses S. Grant, then a soldier at nearby Jefferson Barracks, met Julia Dent at White Haven in 1844 and the couple married in 1848. They lived at White Haven for five years until Grant reenlisted in the army to serve in the American Civil War. In 1866 Grant purchased parts of the property and established a commercial farm and horse breeding operation. Amid an increasingly volatile economy, Grant sold off livestock in 1875 before losing the estate outright in 1885, just three months before his death. Albert Wenzlick acquired the property in 1913 and passed it to his son Delbert in 1940. The Wenzlicks sold much of the surrounding land but maintained the historic integrity of the estate’s core. Delbert passed away in 1979, leaving the future of the estate unclear. After years of public engagement and fundraising by local advocates, the 9.6-acre property was acquired by a joint venture between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and St. Louis County.  Centuries of agricultural use significantly altered the topography of the site. The preserved home currently overlooks a relatively flat, shady lawn enclosed by a wooden slat fence. Stone walkways lead to the main house and outbuildings, including a stable designed by Grant that serves as a visitor center. Hundreds of historical trees, including black oak, dawn redwood, flowering dogwood, ginkgo, pecan, and sweetgum, are spread throughout the property. The site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places (1979) and later declared a National Historic Landmark (1985). In 1989 White Haven became a National Historic Site and remains managed by the National Park Service.