President Garfield Tea House

 Emil Salvini

I have written about seven US Presidents that have

summered at Long Branch NJ and because of that

history the museum/church that was once known

as the St. James Chapel is a now known as the

Church of the Presidents.
There is an amazing little building located on the back

of the property. It was moved there to save it and at

one time was known as the President Garfield Tea House.
Wherethe heck did that name come from?



One of the US Presidents who loved Long Branch was

James Garfield. In the summer of 1881, just four months

after his inauguration, the president was heading to his

beloved "Branch" to spend time with his family. As he

waited on the train platform an unbalanced individual,

Charles Guiteau, shot him. The mortally wounded

commander in chief remained in Washington for two

months while no less than six surgeons botched

numerous operations. It is often said that it was not

Guiteau's bullet that killed the President but the surgeons

that worked on him.  With the thermometer in the capital

rising each day while a malaria  epidemic swept the city

it was decided to move Garfield to Long Branch where

he could convalesce by the sea.



Arrangements were made to transport Garfield to a comfortable cottage on the grounds of the Elberton Hotel. The story mesmorized the world. He was in such bad shape that the surgeons thought he might not survive the short horse drawn ambulance trip from the Long Branch train station to the cottage.
A bold plan was hatched and the residents and tourists of Long Branch made history when they constructed a 5/8 mile spur railroad line connecting the cottage to the RR terminal.
Less than twenty-four hours after the first spoke was hammered, the president's car glided gently up to the front door of the cottage.


OK..Emil..where the heck does that shack come into this story.
Well, after the trip the railroad ties of the world famous spur were removed and sold to a summer cottager* who incorporated them into a tiny structure called Garfield's Hut.
The owner hosted tea parties in the hut where legend says he stored his cream and butter in an icebox accessible by a trapdoor.

Uponhisdeath his son inherited the tea room and after more than a century of neglect the Garfield Hut, or Garfield Tea Room, was moved to the museum grounds for protection and eventual restoration.
Next time you are in the area check it out.
Now you know :)


for more interesting stories about the NJ Shore visit Emil Salvini's blog:


*Oliver Byron


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"The railroad ties laid to bring the dying President directly to the cottage were torn up shortly after his death and purchased by Oliver Doud Byron, the actor. Out of them he built a small cabin on his North Long Branch estate. Still standing, Garfield's Hut, as it is called, consists of a single room 8 x 12 feet and about 8 feet high. It is in log cabin style and has a patriotic color scheme; the ties that are laid lengthwise are painted red, the frame is blue and
the room is finished with white trim. It has a Dutch door in the front, and on each side is a window with colored glass borders. One of the original rails supports the ceiling.
Oliver Byron used the small building for tea parties; it is said that he kept his butter and cream for such occasions in an icebox that he reached by a trap door in the floor. When he died, the Garfield Hut was moved to Highlands by his son, Arthur Byron,also an actor. He recently returned it to Oliver Presley, whose father built it for the elder Byron. It now stands on the grounds of his home on Atlantic Avenue opposite Church Street".



by Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration of the State of New Jersey; Federal Writers' Project  1940