Grant Cottage

Grant Cottage will wrap up its season this weekend.

Steve Jacobs file photo, sjacobs@poststar.com

WILTON — The Ulysses S. Grant Cottage State Historic Site will celebrate being named the 24th state Literary Landmark by United for Libraries and the Empire State Center for the Book with a special event at 1 p.m. Sept. 16.

The Friends of Grant Cottage will hold a public plaque dedication ceremony, featuring keynote speaker David S. Nolen, assistant editor at Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library and contributor to the annotated edition of “The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant,” which the former president completed at the cottage.

It is Nolen’s first visit to the historical site.

Early-release copies of the annotated memoirs will be available for purchase and signing by Nolen.

Other speakers will include Rocco Staino, director of Empire State Center for the Book; and Alane Ball-Chinian, Saratoga-Capital regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

U.S. Grant (portrayed by Steve Trimm) and Mark Twain (portrayed by Kevin O’Brien) will be in attendance and available for tintype photographs by Glens Falls Art.

“We are so thrilled to become one of the Literary Landmarks,” said Melissa Swanson, the site’s executive director, who said she is also excited to have Nolen as a speaker.

“He obviously has great knowledge of Grant, and we are lucky to have him.”

Literary Landmark status is granted to community locations associated with a literary figure, author, or his or her work. Grant completed the second volume of his memoirs at the cottage, just days before his death in 1885.

The new status follows Grant Cottage’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which came in 1991. It is one of about 90,000 sites listed on the register.

The application for the cottage to become a National Historic Landmark is in process with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

If the application is successful, the cottage will become one of about 2,500 historic landmark sites, and it will be one of only dozens of sites in the U.S. to have all three designations.

“Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant” has never been out of print and stands as a work of profound political, historical and literary significance, praised by such diverse critics as Mark Twain, Thomas Nast, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Edmund Wilson, Bruce Catton and Gore Vidal.

Grant was impoverished by a Ponzi-style swindle and dying of throat cancer when he moved to the cottage on June 16, 1885.

With the support of his family, along with Twain, Grant completed the book before his death on July 23, 1885.

The two-volume publication ensured his family’s financial security and gave the world one of the most critically acclaimed memoirs by a U.S. president or historic military figure.

Grant Cottage is owned by the state of New York and operated by The Friends of the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage, Inc., a nonprofit organization.

You can read Bill Toscano’s blog at poststar.com/blogs or his updates on Twitter, @billtoscano_ps.

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