The General Grant National Memorial, commonly called
: The resting place of and monument to Ulysses S. Grant
commanding General of the US Army in the Civil War and two-term President,
in Riverside Park
at West 123rd Street, the
largest mausoleum in America according to the National Park Service sign at
the site (click image
). Completed in 1897.
By 1935 it was badly in need of repairs. A New York City Parks Department
press release of October 7, 1937 says:
On October 15th, work in connection with the renovation of Grant's
Tomb, which was dedicated in 1897, will be completed by the monument
restoration group of the Park Department. The entire interior has been
cleaned and worn floors and broken carved marble have been restored. The
exterior of the structure has been waterproofed.
Moreover, the Grant's Tomb website itelf notes that:
In 1938 ... a number of developments were pursued with support of the WPA:
- Installation of busts in the crypt depicting Grant's most esteemed
lieutenants during the Civil War.
- Artist Dean Fausett paints murals in both reliquary rooms featuring
allegorical figures and the Civil War theater, with locations of Grant's
- Re-landscaping and modifying of the surrounding plaza.
Ralph Gardner writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The tomb, designed by John Duncan and based on an ancient Greek mausoleum,
is relatively stark without being uninviting. Natural light streams through
high amber glass windows. There are two small reliquary rooms off the
rotunda bearing battle flags, and the crypt is decorated with busts, added
during the 1930s as part of a WPA project, of Grant's generals,
among them Phillip Sheridan and William Sherman.
The Riverside Park Conservancy adds:
Over the years, sculptural embellishments and accents were added to the
memorial: bronze busts of Grants generals were sculpted as part of a Works
Progress Administration Program in 1938. Murals of Grant's battles were
painted on the interior walls around the same time.
David M. Kahn of the National Park Service goes into greater detail:
Thirty-eight years after the tomb opened, the initial restoration project
began in December 1935, when the Works Progress Administration's laborers
laid down new marble flooring in the atrium. In 1935-39 WPA cleaned marble
(interior and exterior), replaced floors, replaced roof, electric lighting,
heating, built curator's office, new stained glass, painted over dirty
plaster walls, screens, display racks, brass sculptured busts of five Union
generals by WPA artists, installation of eagles on the parapet, expansion
and landscaping of surrounding parkland and addition of granite stairs and
retaining walls [designed by Gilmore D. Clarke and Aymar Embury, Robert
Moses' CWA-WPA-paid chief architects], new trees, two flagpoles with brass
plaques, expanded plaza, ... “In January 1939, most of the WPA
laborers had largely completed their work and a ceremony was held at the
tomb during which they were given certificates of commendation by the [Grant
Monument] Association. A formal rededication of the tomb, attended by a few
Civil War veterans among others, was then held on April 27, 1939. The
entire project had cost some $300,000 of which the Grant Monument
Association has supplied over $80,000 left over from the fund raising
campaign of 1929. The tomb looked fresher inside and out than it had in
Shortly after the restoration project began, the old
New York City Post Office was being demolished and donated two statues of
eagles to decorate the front of the Grant Monument. The laborers of the
WPA worked on several projects throughout the 1930s, including roof
restoration, electric lighting and heating systems, and removing the purple
stained glass windows. The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company installed
amber glass to replace the purple stained glass. Toward the end of the
1930s, a project began to restore the two reliquary rooms, where battle
flags were displayed in trophy cases, and murals of the wars Grant had
fought in were painted on the walls. In 1938 the Federal Art Project
selected artists William Mues and Jeno Juszko to design the busts of William
T. Sherman, Phillip H. Sheridan, George H. Thomas, James B. McPherson, and
Edward Ord. The WPA installed five busts in the circular wall of the
atrium surrounding the sarcophagi. After the many contributions of the WPA,
the Grant Monument Association held a re-dedication of the tomb on April 27,
- General Grant National Monument
website at the National Park Service.
Parks Dept press release of October 11, 1937
- Grant's Tomb History
at www.grantstomb.org, the website
of the Grant Monument Association.
- Gardner, Ralph Jr., Seeing
Grant's Tomb in a New Light, Wall Street Journal, February 23,
Grant National Memorial (Grant's Tomb) at riversideparknyc.org, the
website of the Riverside Park Conservancy
- Kahn, David M., Curator, Manhattan Cities, General
Grant National Memorial: Historical Resource Study, January 1980
(National Park Service), pp.164-174.
- Waugh, Joan, U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, University of North Carolina Press (2009).