Throwback Thursday | Former First Lady Garfield Dies Here 100 Years Ago This Month

PHOTO: South Pasadena Public Library | | The Garfield House during South Pasadena’s Flag Day celebration (1910)

After a disgruntled office seeker assassinated President James A. Garfield, Lucretia Garfield was forever known as the “widow of the martyred President.” Her popularity grew to legendary status while she was alive, many referring to her simply as The Lady in Black.

Mrs. Garfield adhered to her strict interpretation of Victorian values – always wearing black in public and a medallion around her neck in remembrance. She remained active during her later years, becoming the co-founder of the Pasadena Red Cross at the beginning of WWI. And when President Theodore Roosevelt accepted an invitation to visit Pasadena, he did so only after he confirmed a visit to see the former first lady.

PHOTO: South Pasadena Library | | Lucretia Garfield, The Lady in Black with a neck broach of her slain husband President Garfield.

In 1904, Garfield commissioned Charles and Henry Green to design a chalet style Craftsman bungalow which still stands today at 1001 Buena Vista Street in South Pasadena. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a South Pasadena Cultural Heritage Landmark.

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She died of pneumonia at her winter home in South Pasadena 100 years ago this month. One national newspaper headline read: “Mrs. Garfield Answers Call.”


Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas

Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.