You Can Still See Ulysses S. Grant’s Memorial Flowers in Upstate New York

The same ones from 1885

Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant and his staff.
John Adams Whipple

In the final weeks of his life, Ulysses S. Grant was hard at work on his memoirs, which recounted his work for the Union during the Civil War and his two terms as President. The cottage where he did so, located in Wilton, New York, is now a historic landmark.

But the history to be found there goes beyond the famous figures who walked its halls and chronicled a life there. After Grant’s death, a number of floral arrangements arrived there — and they’ve persisted until the present day.

As a recent article at Atlas Obscura points out, most dried flowers do not last for 136 years. This includes a sword and a gate standing six feet tall, all made from flowers. As the article points out, ornate memorial flowers were a relatively frequent sight in the second half of the 19th century. These endured in part because one of the cottage’s owners decreed that the building should be left exactly as it was in the wake of Grant’s death.

While the dried flowers aren’t quite what they once were, their continuing presence remains a vital link to the historical moments that transpired on the same site. Questions remain, though, on how best to preserve the flowers moving forward.

Conservator Heidi Miksch suggested creating new replicas of the floral arrangements so that visitors could get a better sense of how they looked at the time they were created. According to the article, Friends of Grant Cottage and New York State are taking a deeper look into the matter, with both the past and the future on their minds.

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