When the cottage is closed, you still have the opportunity to hear the stories of the Cottage and other related themes from our staff and volunteers.

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Events Calendar

The Cottage is an ideal destination for viewing historic events near Saratoga Springs and the Capital Region.  The Cottage hosts numerous public events throughout the season such as family days, our Porch Chat Series of history lectures and portrayals, as well as acknowledgements of Grant's death and funeral.

Most events are free with tours of the Cottage at their regular fee.  Please check below for this year's calendar listing and descriptions. 

October 12

Children's Porch Chat
Solomon Northup

Born in Minerva in July of 1808, Solomon Northup was the son of an emancipated slave, Mintus Northup, who had taken the last name of his former owners.

Olomon wed Anne Hamption in 1829.  They had three children and moved to Fort Edward.  In 1841, when winter was coming to a close, Solomon was offered a job playing for what he believed would be a traveling circus.

He was deceived and sold into slavery.

His freedom was secured when a friend and lawyer, Henry B. Northup facilitated his freedom.

In 1854, his autobiography, 12 Years a Slave, which depicted the worst and the best of human nature was published.

Clifford Oliver will bring Solomon Northup to life for young Grant Cottage visitors.

Porch Chat:
Freeing Charles

While the younger participants are rolling pumpkins at “Grant’s Last View”, adults are invited to the porch of the Cottage at 1pm for the adult program of the day.  Scott Christianson, author of Freeing Charles will discuss the story of the captured fugitive slave, Charles Nalle who was liberated by Harriet Tubman in Troy, NY.


May 25
Opening Program

Oliver and Martha Clarke
Re-enactors, drama

Oliver Clarke. A Union veteran, he had served as a Sergeant in Company B, 94th. New York. Captured at the battle of Cold Harbor, he was imprisoned at the infamous Andersonville. Oliver was Grant Cottage caretaker from 1890 to 1917. The second caretaker was his wife Martha Kelsey Clarke. Martha, like Oliver, became an expert on the life and career of Ulysses S. Grant. As well, she became an expert on the natural history of Mount McGregor. She was caretaker from 1917 to 1941. Volunteers Steve Trimm & Melissa Trombley-Prosch will bring this dedicated couple back to life and welcome you to Grant Cottage's 124th year as an historic site.

June 8


Porch Chat

Napoleon Smith, President Grant's Imaginary Friend
When President Grant opened the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, he shared the stage with dozens of Union veterans. One of the veterans was invisible. He was invisible because he was a figment in the rich imagination of W.J. Arkell. Arkell, a fabulously rich and eccentric businessman, would one day bring the desperately ill Ulysses S. Grant to Grant Cottage. But in 1876 Arkell was writing a novel, the lead character of which is Gettysburg hero Napoleon Smith. Arkell's tale weaves together historical fact and fiction. It's improbable, funny, passionate and ultimately wonderful. W.J. Arkell himself will meet you on the Grant Cottage porch where he will recount Napoleon Smith's adventures. Mr. Arkell will be portrayed by Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm.

June 15

Father's Day

Fathers and Families with th
e 77th Balladeers
Music, Picnic, Horseshoes

Ulysses S. Grant valued the presence of his wife and family throughout his career as General-in-Chief, President, and author. He successfully completed his memoirs—a publication that would hopefully provide for his family following his passing. He achieved this goal in July of 1885 at the Cottage atop Mount McGregor. On Father’s Day, we welcome fathers and their families to bring along a picnic lunch to experience the very spot that the Civil War General and our 18th president accomplished such a remarkable task for his family. Visitors may lunch upon the very porch where he sat or choose the shaded picnic tables in the foreground of the Cottage. Period music performed by the 77th Regimental Balladeers will complete the picture, bringing visitors back to the summer of 1885. Horseshoes will be available for play throughout the event.

June 22
Book Talk

Grant & Granger
Presenter:  Bob Conner
Bob Conner, former Schenectady Gazette reporter and Grant Cottage Site Interpreter, will share his research completed for Grant and Granger.  Bob will speak on the Grant and Granger relationship, which was a difficult one.  He will touch upon Grant's difficult relationships with some other generals, especially those like Granger who were in the Army of the Cumberland:  i.e. George Thomas and William Rosecrans.  Both sides will be fairly discussed to the illustrious one-time resident of Grant Cottage (who is obviously a much more significant general and historical figure than any of the others).  Bob will also bring up the parallels between Grant and Granger (who were the same age and had similar backgrounds at West Point and in the Mexican War) as well as their postwar careers, including Reconstruction and the Indian frontier.  Bob will conclude with a discussion about Grant Cottage, his long connection with it, and what he hopes will be its successful future. 

June 29
Porch Chat
Sport, Activity, and the Presidency
Presenter:  Dr. Lisa Pleban
This presentation explores the role of sport and physical activity within the American presidency. Of particular note will be the activities of our 18th president, General Ulysses S. Grant. The image of a physically-educated President of the United States has been used as a powerful tool both in the political ring and in the building of our nation’s character. Join Dr. Lisa A. Pleban, Associate Professor of Physical Education at Castleton State College, in learning more about this entertaining topic.

July 2

Good Ol' Songs
Music by Judy Rosebrook

alist and guitar player, Judy Rosebrook brings cottage visitors into a listening and singing experience.  The music will include songs we have sung and music that we recognize as Civil War pieces.  Join us on our historic porch to kick off the upcoming Independence Weekend.

July 9

Porch Chat

A True Renaissance Warrior

Thomas Wentworth Higginson funded John Brown's Harper's Ferry raid and later commanded a regiment of freed slaves.  Higginson, a true Renaissance warrior, knew that both the pen and the sword can be mighty.  Poet Emily Dickinson was introduced and mentored by Higginson.  Join him as he reminisces about General Grant, John Brown, his command of the 1st. South Carolina Volunteers - and brings his friend Emily Dickinson to the stage to read some of her virtually unknown Civil War poems. Grant Cottage tour guides Steve Trimm and Diana O'Brien will portray Thomas and Emily.

July 16

Book Talk
Presenter:  Author Frank Varney
Author Frank Varney will discuss his book:  General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War.

Author Frank Varney sheds new light on what really happened on some of the Civil War’s most important battlefields. He does so by focusing much of his work on Grant’s treatment of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, a capable army commander whose reputation Grant (and others working with him) conspired to destroy.

Civil War News’ review of the book stated: “This superb book disproves the notion that there’s nothing new to learn about the Civil War. Frank Varney builds a convincing case that William Rosecrans has been treated unfairly by historians and, perhaps more significantly, that Ulysses S. Grant deliberately destroyed his reputation and the reputations of other Civil War generals.”

July 20
Porch Chat
Abolitionist's Son & Slave Owner's Dau
You know Ulysses S. Grant the General and President. But did you know that Grant was also a romantic? The courtship and marriage
of Ulysses S. Grant ( the abolitionist's son ) and Julia Boggs Dent ( the slave owner's daughter ) is one of America's most endearing love stories. It is also one of America's least known love stories. Except at Grant Cottage, that is, where you can hear the heartwarming tale from Ulysses and Julia themselves. Ulysses and Julia will be portrayed by Grant Cottage volunteers Steve Trimm & Melissa Trombley-Prosch.

July 23

Historic Date
Grant Remembrance Day
129 years ago today, at age 63, Ulysses S. Grant finally bowed to the only enemy who could defeat him, cancer. It has become a tradition at Grant Cottage to mark this sad occasion by recreating the Grant family circle and allowing those who loved him most to speak about Grant the husband, father and grandfather. Re-enactors portraying General Grant's family and closest friends will gather on the Cottage porch to bid the man they adored a final, very personal farewell. The ceremony will include music and, while acknowledging sorrow, will be a true celebration of U.S. Grant's truly extraordinary life.

View the invitation

Special Program
Location:  NYS Military Museum in Saratoga Springs
Grant's spy and Richmond socialite author Dr. Donald Wyman
July 26, 2014, 1 pm

Dr. Donald Wyman, a former Army and Central Intelligence Agency Officer, is the author of The Chosen Path;  based on the life of Elizabeth Van Lew, one of our nation's best spies. During the Civil War, Elizabeth Van Lew left Richmond society to spy for the Union Army and earn the title, Grant's spy.

Dr. Wyman will reveal many of the clandestine sources, methods an
d the professional trade craft that Ms. Van Lew employed while accomplishing her patriotic and dangerous mission as spymaster in the Confederate capital .

Dr. Wyman will make his presentation at 1pm on Saturday, July 26,  in the Public Room of the NYS Military Museum and answer questions following the program.

The program is a joint effort on behalf of the NYS Military Museum and Grant Cottage.

July 30

Porch Chat
Vision of the Hotel Balmoral
Presenter:  Stuart Stiles
Grant Cottage used to share the summit of Mount McGregor with the Hotel Balmoral. This three-story hotel was architecturally stunning, its grounds extensive and beautiful. The Balmoral's resort complex, which included an art gallery, nature trails, three lakes and fabulous views of the Hudson Valley, was simply elegant. As well, the hotel boasted something technologically magical called electricity. And if that wasn't enough, the Balmoral had its own railroad connecting it to Saratoga Springs, ten miles away. It was one of the hotel's developers, Joseph Drexel, who brought General Grant to Grant Cottage. Stuart Stiles, whose family has lived at the base of Mount McGregor since 1773, has researched the Hotel Balmoral in depth and is the expert on its birth, life and death. Join him for what is bound to be a unique and informative talk. 

August 8

Historic Date
Flags at Half Staff
Re-enactors, Bagpiper & Vocalist
On August 8th., 1885, General Grant's body was placed in a tomb in New York City's Riverside Park. 250,000 citizens had viewed his body while it lay in state in City Hall. The funeral procession from City Hall to Riverside Park took six hours. Former Confederate generals were among the honorary pall bearers. August 8th. was the day the nation formally paid its respects to the man who, as soldier and President, helped make the country the United States again. At Grant Cottage there will be music and song, and re-enactors will tell us why and how Ulysses S. Grant became the great historical figure that he did.

August 10

Porch Chat

Harrison Terrell
Portrayed by:  Fred Jones
Harrison Terrell was the Grant family's butler and, during the General's agonizing final year, did as much as the doctors to keep the hero of Appomattox alive.  Ulysses S. Grant and Harrison Terrell were more than employer and employee.  Frederick Jones who has portrayed Frederick Douglas will tell the story of Harrison Terrell in the first person and provide a riveting event.

August 13

Porch Chat
The Significance of Music in the 19th Century

All cultures use lyrics and music and the Grant Cottage story is well told by troubador Tom Smith and storyteller Steve Trimm.  Tom and Steve (both tour guides at the Grant Cottage) will examine music of the 19th century and explain what music meant to those who lived in that time period (music with which Ulysses S. Grant would have been familiar). 

August 16 & 17
Art Exhibit:  NY Nature
Artwork by:  Wayne Trimm
Mount McGregor once boasted an art gallery. Grant Cottage caretaker Martha Clarke was an amateur artist. Professional artists painted images of Grant Cottage and of the mountain itself. For years before and after General Grant's stay there, ordinary citizens flocked to Mount McGregor simply to enjoy its natural beauty.
To commemorate Mount McGregor's art history and natural history, a collection of wildlife paintings by Wayne Trimm will be displayed on the Grant Cottage porch the weekend of August 16th. & 17th.

Mr. Trimm was trained in science and in art. For 30 years he was art editor of New York's award-winning Conservationist Magazine. His paintings of our region's birds, animals and plants are not only scientifically accurate, they are things of great beauty. August 16th. will be Mr. Trimm's 92nd. birthday.  Meet and greet the artist ( and wish him a happy birthday! ) between 1 & 2PM on the 16th.

August 23
Fashion 'n Fair
Tea, Raffle, and Civil War Nurse Mary Livermore portrayed by Maxine Getty

For over two decades, Maxine Getty has researched women who participated in the Civil
ar.  Her accurate portrayal of Mary Livermore (writer, nurse, and manager of the Sanitary Commission in the western states) provides the story of efforts to provide food, clothing, and medical supplies to soldiers in the field. The women of the Sanitary Commission raised large sums of money to support the war and were early examples of patriotic consumerism.  Prior to Mrs. Getty's presentation as Mary Livermore, visitors may enjoy a glass of Julia Grant's punch and try on period reproduction hats and paraphernalia.  Reservations are recommended.  Program cost is $10.



All events are free unless otherwise noted. 
Cottage tours are at their regular fee.


August 27

Porch Chat

Farewell General Grant:  Stories of Love, Support, and Ambition (1884-1885)
On March 1, 1885, America and the world learned that internationally renowned Civil War General and former U.S. President, Ulysses S. Grant, was dying of throat cancer.  Grant had been financially ruined in the 19th Century's most infamous Ponzi scheme in 1884.  A concerned and sympathetic public watched his race with death to complete his memoirs.  If completed, they would provide a stable income for his suddenly impoverished family.
In the setting of Grant Cottage, 1907, the drama, tragedy and eventual triumph of 1884-1885 comes to life through a collection of Grant stories told in the person of Martha Josephine Kelsey Clarke, Grant Cottage caretaker, portrayed by Melissa Trombley-Prosch.  Reenactors portraying Martha's niece, Christine Curtiss, and brother, (Joseph) Samuel Kelsey, will also participate in the program.

Refreshments using vintage recipes will be served.

August 31

Porch Chat
Grant's Birthday at Delmonico's
Three years after General Grant's death, a movement was afoot to have his birthday declared a national holiday. On April 27, 1888, a roomful of Grant admirers gathered at the renowned Delmonico's Banquet House in New York City to promote the cause. Those admirers, including former Union and Confederate generals, spoke of their love and respect for Ulysses S. Grant. Transcripts of their speeches have survived and today's Porch Chat is taken directly from those transcripts. Today's talk will be presented by Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm and by his brother, the well-known regional theater actor Tracy Trimm.

September 13,  7:00pm and September 14,  3:00pm

Sunset on Mount McGregor

Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant were friends. But when Tited the General at Grant Cottage, he came as an editor assisting an author. Twain was going to publish Grant's Memoirs and he wanted the book to be perfect. His visit in June, 1885, therefore, was a business trip. When Twain left, he did not realize that he would never see his friend alive again. " Sunset On Mount McGregor" brings Grant and Twain together one last time and gives them the opportunity to put into words thoughts and feelings they did not express in June, 1885. The greatest military man and the greatest writer of their age will look back on their eventful lives and distill the lessons learned from surviving their country's darkest, most tragic and, paradoxically, most inspirational era. 
" Sunset O
n Mount McGregor " is an original, multi-media theater event. Its producer is John Quinn. Mark Twain is portrayed by acclaimed Twain impersonator Don Coons. General Grant is portrayed by Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm.

The performance will include live music and song by the 77th. Regimental Balladeers.  Tickets are $10.

Special note: 
There will be an evening walk to the Overlook as part of the performance.  Those who feel may not be physically capable will have the opportunity to remain at the tent for a special presentation.

Tours on September 14th will end at 2pm due to the performance

September 14

Porch Chat
Unknown Museums of Upstate New York
Presented by:  Chuck D'Imperio, Author
"Grant Cottage is one of the most poignant places I have ever visited." So wrote Chuck D'Imperio in his book Unknown Museums Of Upstate New York. The Cottage was the last of fifty pilgrimages the author made to museums and historic sites that deserve more public attention. From the Abolition Hall of Fame to the Kazoo Museum to the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum to the National Purple Heart Hall Of Honor, there are virtually unknown collections, archives and exhibits across upstate New York that appeal to everyone from the whimsically minded to the serious scholar and history buff. The Syracuse University Press published Mr. D'Imperio's unique travelogue in 2013. A well known radio personality based in Oneonta and a talented writer, Mr. D'Imperio is also a most entertaining speaker. If you're interested in day trips to unusual and intriguing places, don't miss Chuck's talk.

September 21
Let Us H
ave Peace
Music by:  Running the River
(Running the River has replaced Magpie as the music for this event)

t Us Have Peace." The phrase, carved above the entrance to his tomb, was the cry of General Grant's heart. Today, International Peace Day, is a highly appropriate time to remember the victorious soldier who truly hated war and, as President, never sent his countryman to war. 

Running The River is a dynamic band whose unique blend of classic Country, Rock, Folk, Irish, Blues, and Fiddle tunes provides entertainment for everyone.