Our first destination was the William McKinley Monument whose dome is clearly visible from I-77 which runs through the heart of Canton.
After reviewing more than one hundred proposals, Harold Van Buren Magonigle’s design was selected for the construction of a Monument and final resting place for martyred President, William McKinley. His vision was for a large monument at the center of a large cross.
It was begin in 1905 and completed in 1907.
The blade of the sword, symbolizing the president’s war service (the last president to have served in the Civil War), was formed by what was called the “Long Water”, a 575-foot lagoon made up of five levels, each 20 inches lower than the one before it. The water cascaded down the levels and ended in a reflecting pool. The water lagoon was replaced with a grassy lawn in the 1950s due to poor drainage.
The McKinley Memorial that contains the 25th president’s tomb stands on a grass-covered hill overlooking the city of Canton. The circular, domed pink granite building rises 96 feet above ground and measures 79 feet in diameter.
The construction process was truly a national and international effort. Nine states contributed material for the project, arriving in Canton by rail and then brought on horse-drawn wagons to the site. Ohio supplied the concrete, all of the brick (hidden by the monument’s double wall separated by 15 inches of open space) and labor force. Massachusetts provided the pink Milford granite for the exterior. The interior marble walls, pedestals for the statue and part of the marble floor came from the Grey Eagle quarries in Knoxville, Tennessee. Artisans made the original plain glass skylight, though the current skylight was produced in Canton. All of the Bronze work, including the entrance doors, was cast in Rhode Island.
Workers for the project were from many nationalities and races. There is even an account of African-Americans traveling from the southeastern region of the US to ask for employment because of their deep admiration for President McKinley.
108 granite steps lead up the hill to the mausoleum.
Midway up the steps is a large, 9-foot bronze statue by Charles Henry Niehaus of President McKinley delivering his last speech in Buffalo. The chair behind him is draped with a 45-star American flag.
The double bronze doors of the entrance were the largest in the nation at the time of installation..
Colored marble laid in a cross pattern forms the floor of the mausoleum.
Above the entry doors is a bronze lunette representing Victories of Peace. The seated female figure is the Republic protecting her domain with her cloak. On her right, War lays his sword and shield at her feet. On her left another youth offers the products of industry. In the back a laurel tree spreads its leaves, expressing the flowering and fruition of Peace.
The interior lunette represents the power of the President in both Peace and War. The circular President seal sits above a sword, obscuring its blade. There are stylized faces on each side, symbolic of supreme authority and power. On the far right and left are cornucopia which stand for the abundance of Peace.
In the center of the monument is the double sarcophagus carved from dark green granite from Vermont. It is carved from a single block but designed to appear as a two-in-one. It rests on a base of “Black Berlin” granite from Wisconsin. Lion’s heads carved into each of the four corners “guard” the President. Around the double top of the sarcophagus is a gold band of gilded laurel symbolizing the triumph of love over death.
The bodies of McKinley and his wife lie side by side in two polished, dark-green, granite sarcophagi, resting atop a ten-foot-square of polished dark maroon granite in the center of the space.
Their two young daughters who died, Katherine at the age of four
and Ida who was born prematurely dying at just four months
are also laid to rest in the rear wall.
At the top of the inner dome is a magnificent red, white and blue skylight
It contains 45 stars representing the number of states in the union during McKinley’s presidency.
A short distance away is the Presidential Library & Museum.
The William McKinley Library and Museum is the presidential library of the 25th president of the United States. The museum contains the McKinley Gallery, containing the largest collection of McKinley artifacts in the world and chronicles the life and career of the 25th president, from his birth to his death at the hands of an assassin.
William and Ida McKinley
Recreation of their home in Canton
McKinley always wore or kept a red carnation on his desk … which is now the state flower of Ohio
A photograph of their daughter Katherine who died at age four.
Various artifacts from McKinley’s life and death
An exact duplicate of the gun Leon Czolgosz used to shoot McKinely twice in the abdomen
A telegram sent two days after McKinley being shot … and six days before he succumbed to his wounds.
As with other presidential libraries, its Ramsayer Research Library is a repository for documents related to McKinley’s life in general and his presidency in particular and open for research by academics and historians.
However, unlike any other presidential museum building, McKinely’s houses artifacts from Stark County and the City of Canton.
Streets of Shops – provides a feel for life was it was in the 1800s. The recreated shops include a pioneer-era cabin, general store, gas station, hotel lobby, doctor’s office, dental office, saloon and many more.
Stark County Story – chronicling 200 years of Stark County industrial, military and leisure life.
1921 Holmes Automobile manufactured by the Forest City Motor Car Company
Ribbon worn by local resident S.S. Gaskill at the funerals of Presidents Lincoln (1865), Garfield (1881) and McKinley (1901) – Interestingly, one person, Lincoln’s son Robert, was present at all three assassinations
E. Howard Clock Tower Movement No. 2 (Made in Boston, Massachusetts – Circa 1886)
There is an extensive model train layout depicting historic sites of the Pennsylvania Railroad as it once traveled through Stark County.
Further, it also serves as a science center with some wildlife and fossils in the Discover Center and hosts the Hoover-Price Planetarium.