Tuesday, April 14, 2009
President Garfield Tea House
I have written about seven US Presidents that have summered at Long Branch NJ and because of that history the museum/church that was once known as the St. James Chapel is a now known as the Church of the Presidents.
There is an amazing little building located in the back of the property. It was moved there to save it and at one time was known as the President Garfield Tea House.
Where the heck did that name come from ??
Here we go.
One of the US Presidents who loved Long Branch was James Garfield. In the summer of 1881, just four months after his inauguration, the president was heading to his beloved "Branch" to spend time with his family. As he waited on the train platform an unbalanced individual, Charles Guiteau, shot him. The mortally wounded commander in chief remained in Washington for two months while no less than six surgeons botched numerous operations. It is often said that it was not Guiteau's bullet that killed the President but the surgeons that worked on him.
With the thermometer in the capital rising each day while a malaria epidemic swept the city it was decided to move Grafielf to Long Branch where he could convalesce by the sea.
Arrangements were made to transport Garfield to a comfortable cottage on the grounds of the Elberton Hotel. The story mesmorized the world. He was in such bad shape that the surgeons thought he might not survive the short horse drawn ambulance trip from the Long Branch train station to the cottage.
A bold plan was hatched and the residents and tourists of Long Branch made history when they constructed a 5/8 mile spur railroad line connecting the cottage to the RR terminal.
Less than twenty-four hours after the first spoke was hammered, the president's car glided gently up to the front door of the cottage.
OK..Emil..where the heck does that shack come into this story.
Well, after the trip the railroad ties of the world famous spur were removed and sold to a summer cottager who incorporated them into a tiny structure called Garfield's Hut.
The owner hosted tea parties in the hut where legend says he stored his cream and butter in an icebox accessible by a trapdoor.
Upon his death his son inherited the tea room and after more than a century of neglect the Garfield Hut, or Garfield Tea Room, was moved to the museum grounds for protection and eventual restoration.
Next time you are in the area check it out.
Now you know :)