Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is a house called "White Haven" painted green?
Perhaps the most frequent topic for visitor questions is the house’s historic Paris Green color. Previous Dent family residences in England and Maryland were called "White Haven," so the familiar name carried over to this property. The Paris Green color dates to the 1870s, and was quite popular during that era. Paint sampling and historic store ledgers confirm that this was indeed the color of the house. Some of the original paint is visible on the back porch, inside the mud room.
2. What types of wood were used for constructing the house?
Oak and pine varieties are by far the most common woods used in the house’s construction. Walnut was also used fairly extensively.
3. Why is the house unfurnished?
Unfortunately, we do not know the types of furnishings that were used in the home. The Grants furnishings were burned in a fire at Wish-ton-wish (another building on the property) in 1873. Since we lack the necessary information, the National Park Service has chosen to use a few representative pieces as touchstones for the Grant’s story.
4. What was on the interior walls of the house in the Grants’ day?
We know that at least one room was wallpapered, and we have replicated that wallpaper in the dining room. The remaining rooms are restored to how they would have looked, using the wall and trim paint colors confirmed through research and sampling.
5. When was the house built?
This question has a fairly complex answer, due to the many additions throughout the early history of the structure. The original two-story main section is called the Long House (after owner William Lindsay Long), and dates to around 1818. The next owners, the Hunt family, added the two-room portion to the back of the house (called the "Hunt Addition") by 1820. The West Wing addition (on the left side, if you are facing the house) and back porch were added by 1840, and the East Wing addition (on the right side, if you are facing the house) was added sometime after the Civil War. The first-floor kitchen and mud room were added by 1868.
6. Are the buildings in their original locations?
Yes and no. All of the historic structures are, with the exception of the chicken house and barn. Although it dates to the historic period, the chicken house was located elsewhere on the site, perhaps near the barn, which was originally located southeast of its current location prior to being moved in 1962.
7. Are the floors in the house original?
No, although they do emulate the appearance of the original floor, which is located just underneath the current one.
8. What’s upstairs, and why can’t I go up there?
Two bedrooms (on the second floor) and an attic are upstairs. Due to safety concerns they are not accessible to the public.
9. Why is there a closet in one room?
The room, called the West Wing addition, is a vertical log structure which was attached to the west exterior wall of the main house. The chimney stack for the dining room separates this wall from the West Wing, creating a closet space.
10. Where did the slaves live?
We know that both the winter and summer kitchens also served as living quarters for some of the enslaved, but the majority of the slaves lived in cabins somewhere beyond the rear of the house. The exact location is unknown.
11. What parts of the house are original? Why does the back of the house have such a "new" look?
A significant amount of the wood, stone, and glass you see in the house is original. The back porch and additions to the house look new because they had been demolished and had to be reconstructed.
12. Why aren’t the house and summer kitchen air conditioned?
This was intentionally done to convey a sense of what these structures would have felt like during the warm weather months, as well as to reduce the intrusive physical impact. In the 19th century, window and door placement, as well as the actual facing of the house, were done with air flow and breezes in mind.
13. What was the original access route for the winter kitchen? Is the bark on the beams real?
Archeological evidence indicates that a door existed at the rear of the house, leading down into the winter kitchen. The small trap door was probably used for unloading supplies, such as wood for the fireplace. And yes, those are the original beams, and the bark is real.
14. What is that concrete thing in the ground behind the house?
That is a cistern, used for gathering and storing rain water. Since it is no longer used it has been capped for safety reasons. Incidentally, a well (also capped) is located near the road as you exit the parking lot.
15. What’s the modern history of the site? How long has the National Park Service been here?
The White Haven property was owned by the Wenzlick family for most of the 20th century. A local organization, Save Grant’s White Haven, Inc., helped preserve the site from development in the 1980s and guided it toward federal management as a unit of the National Park Service. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site was authorized by Congress in 1989, and the park was officially established in 1990.
16. Have any more questions?
Please ask at the Visitor Center! If we cannot answer your question immediately, we’ll be sure to research it and get back in touch with you.
Did You Know?
Ulysses S. Grant was an expert horseman. During his presidency he had this stable built for the thoroughbred horses he was raising and breeding at his St. Louis farm, White Haven.