Remembering Southwest Ohio's Presidents

Feb 19, 2018

Four men who were born in southwest Ohio went on to serve as President of the United States. They're remembered each Presidents' Day.

William Howard Taft's home is a national historic site in Mount Auburn. William Henry Harrison's tomb is in North Bend, and Benjamin Harrison's home is preserved in Indianapolis.

Ulysses S. Grant was born in Point Pleasant but grew up in Georgetown, Ohio, according to Nancy Purdy. She manages the Grant Boyhood Home and Schoolhouse.

"Grant grew up here. He lived here longer than he lived anywhere else in his life until he went to West Point. Then we have the schoolhouse where Grant went to school. It's a two-room schoolhouse built in the 1830s."

Grant's boyhood home in Georgetown was renovated in 2013.
Credit Jay Hanselman / WVXU

She says the Ohio History Connection operates both buildings and completed a $1.4 million renovation in 2013. Purdy says they're open to the public May through October, and by appointment during the winter.

At the Grant Boyhood Home museum, Purdy is expecting a renewed interest in the 18th president. There are two books published in the last year.

"This past year, 2017, we had over 2,000 people come through. They come from everywhere," Purdy says.

Grant's birthday is April 27, and Purdy says there will be a weekend celebration.

Only two communities can lay claim to producing more than one US president: Quincy, Massachusetts and North Bend, Ohio. William Henry Harrison and his grandson Benjamin both came from the western Hamilton County village.

Beverly Meyers is president of the Harrison-Symmes Memorial Foundation, which takes care of the Harrison memorial and tomb in North Bend. She says they get a lot of visitors every year.

"The furthest that we've had come was from Moscow, Russia. They were visiting all the presidential sites in the United States."

She says there is a museum that has memorabilia from election campaigns for both Harrisons, and the musical instrument that was played at Harrison's funeral.

Meyers says there aren't any events planned for Presidents' Day. Harrison's birthday was February 9. She says there's a big wreath laying ceremony for that every year.

The museum is open by appointment only. The tomb is open during the summer months.

Elizabeth Robinson with the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau says the sites fill a tourism niche.

"When those tourists do come, they have plenty of options, and it's not just the museums or historical sites. If you're looking for parks and architecture you can go to Piatt Park or Lytle Park where there are statues of presidents. You can mix and match what the experience is like while still incorporating that presidential aspect," Robinson says.

While the Grant and Harrison sites aren't planning observances of Presidents' Day, the William Howard Taft National Historic Site is open with guided tours every 30 minutes.