The Presidential Carriage Collection
Ongoing Exhibition. The Studebaker National Museum is home to four of the presidential carriages: The Grant, Harrison, Lincoln and McKinley carriages.
Ulysses S. Grant
Studebaker made a carriage for Ulysses S. Grant. It was used during his term as president from 1873 to 1877. After leaving office, Grant continued to use the vehicle at his private residence until his death in 1885.
The carriage is a basic model of the landau style and was pulled by as many as six horses. Grant transported many distinguished guests in the carriage including Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and Chester A. Arthur, King Kalakua of the Hawaiian Islands and Viceroy Li Hung Chang from the Chinese Empire. Civil War Generals William T. Sherman and Phil Sheridan also rode in the carriage with their former commander.
On October 2, 1910, the Studebaker Corporation purchased the carriage for the company’s historic collection. It was purchased by Colonel George Studebaker, son of Clement Studebaker, from General Frederick Dent Grant, son of the president.
When Benjamin Harrison was elected President of the United States, one of his first acts was to order several new carriages from the Studebaker Manufacturing Company. The carriage on display in The Studebaker National Museum is one of these carriages. It was the first order for presidential vehicles given to a firm west of the Allegheny Mountains, and the request acknowledged that fine craftsmanship was not confined to the eastern states.
The Harrison Administration paid $7,075 for five carriages, three sets of harnesses and related accessories for the vehicles. The coaches were simple in design with silver and ebony trimmings rather than fancier gilt, and they bore no formal insignias. The carriages were well suited to Harrison’s unpretentious nature.
Benjamin Harrison and Clement Studebaker were good friends by the time of Harrison’s election. It was rumored that Mr. Studebaker had named his regal South Bend home Tippecanoe in honor of Harrison’s grandfather William Henry Harrison, the hero of the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe near Lafayette, Indiana, and the ninth President of the United States. In turn, Benjamin Harrison appointed Mr. Studebaker first to his inauguration committee and then to the first Pan-American Conference between the U.S. and Latin American nations.
President Harrison had a lasting admiration for Studebaker’s products and owned Studebaker carriages until his death in 1901. The vehicle at the Museum was purchased by the Studebaker Corporation around 1915. It was proudly displayed in the Administration Building until being donated to the City of South Bend in 1969.
Abraham Lincoln took this carriage to Fords Theater in Washington, D.C. on the evening of April 14, 1865, the night of his assassination.
The open barouche model carriage was built by Wood Brothers in 1864 and presented to Lincoln by a group of New York merchants shortly before the president’s second inauguration. The carriage is equipped with six springs and solid silver lamps, door handles and hubcaps. The steps are connected to the doors so that they lower and rise as the doors open and close.
The Studebaker brothers had a great appreciation for the United States and its history. When given the chance to purchase the Lincoln Carriage in 1889, Clement Studebaker moved quickly. Mr. Studebaker bought the vehicle from F. B. Brewer of New York, who had acquired it from Robert Lincoln, the president’s son. The younger Lincoln had sold the carriage shortly after his fathers murder. Studebaker shipped the carriage to Chicago and in August 1890 put it on exhibition on the second floor of the Studebaker Michigan Avenue Repository.
The Lincoln Carriage was one of the first items entered into the Studebaker Corporations historic vehicles collection. Today it is one of the most treasured pieces in The Studebaker National Museum.
This carriage was custom-built for President William McKinley in the mid-1890s for service at his home in Canton, Ohio. It was designed for summer use with rubber tires and a removable extension top. The seats have spring backs and cushions.
In early September, 1901, McKinley took the carriage to the Canton railroad station where he boarded a train for Buffalo, New York. He was scheduled to deliver an address at the Pan-American Exposition there later in the week. On September 6, McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz on the exposition grounds. Despite emergency surgery, McKinley died of complications from his wounds eight days later.
The carriage remained in the McKinley family until 1913 and changed hands three times before the Studebaker Corporation purchased it on November 5, 1924. At that time the historic vehicle was authenticated by John Bederman, McKinley’s personal coachman, and Albert Lewis, who cared for the carriage after the president’s death.