The Grant Memorial Restoration


You see it frequently, although you don’t always know it, and sometimes you don’t recognize it. It’s the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in Washington, DC. Located just west of the Capitol, at the eastern edge of the Mall, the general today looks out across a reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Often one sees the monument in the foreground of a shot of the west face of the Capitol building.

The Grant statue is often a gathering place for pedestrians and visitors.


To Grant’s left, on the southern edge of the monument, is a representation of an artillery unit moving into action:


It’s a very forceful rendering.

To the north, on Grant’s right, is a group of cavalrymen charging:


As you can see from these two images, taken two years apart, sometimes the sword of the lead officer disappears.


Along the pedestal upon which Grant is located are reliefs of infantrymen marching forward, so all three combat branches are represented.

Grant himself, in cold weather garb, looks forward sternly.


I like to walk by the monument when I visit Washington, in part because it is so impressive, and because you can see new things each time you visit. Perhaps it’s also because I remember that after giving a presentation on Grant while I was still teaching in South Carolina, a commenter said that upon hearing my paper, he thought it was time to erect a statue of Grant in Washington … a Grant Memorial, so to speak.

I said nothing. After all, I knew that I was leaving South Carolina, anyway.

Back in 1985 I attended a ceremony in Washington marking the centennial of Grant’s death. At that time the monument had undergone some restoration in anticipation of the occasion. Earlier this year, I walked by it once more, and this is what I saw:
DSC05197This portended a more through restoration and conservation project.


You can barely see the general under all that covering.


A sign describes the work that’s under way.

You might want to watch this presentation by Michele Cohen, a curator in the office of the Architect of the Capitol, who discusses the monument’s history and the present restoration project.

6 thoughts on “The Grant Memorial Restoration

  1. bob carey November 16, 2015 / 3:09 am

    Dr. Simpson;
    I would be careful about posting anything about General Grant, you might be accused of being a “professional Grant apologist”. LOL
    I don’t know if you have ever been to Grant’s Cottage on Mt. Macgregor N.Y. but if you are ever in the Albany area it is worth the trip.

  2. Betty Giragosian November 16, 2015 / 11:23 pm

    Brooks, I have been to DC many times, but have never seen Grant’s memorial. It is magnificent.
    Who was the gifted sculptor?

  3. Bob Huddleston November 17, 2015 / 10:38 am

    Betty, I posted this on FB but will repeat it here:

    You will be interested in Lieut. Col. Clarence O. Sherrill, With James William Bryan (Editor) [Grant Memorial Commission], _The Grant Memorial in Washington_ (GPO 1924). It is the story of Henry Shardy, the sculptor. He spent twenty years creating it and died two weeks before the Grant statuary was dedicated. If you go to you can find copies for $20 on up. The book is heavily illustrated and well worth purchasing,

    • Betty Giragosian November 20, 2015 / 8:02 am

      Thanks, Bob. I will follow up

  4. OhioGuy November 19, 2015 / 1:10 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I don’t recall seeing this on trips to Washington, D.C. It’ll be on my list the next time. BTW, the Grant home, school, etc in Georgetown, Ohio, are also worth the visit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s