William McKinley

William McKinley was born in 1843 at this site in Niles, Ohio, where he lived for nine years, until his family moved away. Afterwards the house was occupied by various families and businesses, until the property was bought in 1890 by a bank.
Instead of demolishing the home, it was cut in half, with one half moved to the back of the lot, and the other half moved to an amusement park. The bank was then built on the former house site. The two half houses were turned into usable independent buildings, one of which was a McKinley Museum for a while.
In 1909, the two halves were purchased by a developer, who put them back together as the centerpiece for a housing development three miles away called McKinley Heights, where the reconstructed house became the Birthplace Home Museum. In 1937 the by-then vacant museum in McKinley Heights burned to the ground, and the site is now a shopping plaza parking lot.
In 2001, the McKinley Memorial Library purchased the now closed bank that occupied the actual birthplace site, and an adjacent property, and built this replica, with a non-original but functional addition in the back. It is open to the public as the McKinley Home and Research Center.
When the McKinley family left their house in Niles, they moved with their nine children to Poland, Ohio. William McKinley fought in the Civil War as a young adult, then settled in Canton, Ohio and practiced law.
McKinley lived at his wife Ida Saxton’s family home in Canton, while he was serving in Congress. In 1892, he became Governor, and then President in 1896. He won a second term in 1900.
In 1998, the Saxton McKinley home became the National First Ladies Library, now part of the First Ladies National Historic Site. The house they lived in after this one, at 723 North Market Street, which they worked on lavishly, and from which he conducted his Front Porch Campaigns, was later converted into a hospital after Ida died in 1907, and was torn down in 1934.
McKinley was shot and killed in 1901, six months into his second term, in Buffalo, New York, where he was attending the Pan American Exposition. His body was displayed in Washington DC, then brought to Canton, where it was reinterred in the McKinley National Memorial in 1907.
The McKinley National Memorial was built over two years, using marble from four states, and paid for with private funds, much of it crowd-sourced with small donations from a million schoolchildren across the country.
The landscape design of the memorial is meant to resemble both a cross and a sword, with a 575 foot-long reflecting pool and steps as the blade, and the mausoleum on the handle. Later the reflecting pool was filled with soil and grass as a cost-saving measure.
The memorial is still privately owned, by the nonprofit McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. The Museum is located at the base of the 108 steps leading up to the Mausoleum.
Inside are hands-on science exhibits and displays about the region, as well as a gallery about McKinley, which includes a recreation of the McKinley’s living room in the house in Canton, with full-size animatronic figures.
In 1909, President Taft signed an act to create a memorial for McKinley in his birthplace town of Niles, Ohio.
The building was designed by McKim, Mead and White, and built on the site of a schoolhouse McKinley attended as a child, near his birthplace.
It opened in 1917, with President Taft in attendance at the dedication.
Half of the building houses a museum about McKinley, with a ceremonial hall and displays along the mezzanine. The other half of the building serves as the town’s public library.
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