The McKinley Presidential Library and Museum is unlike any other presidential museum. Originally intended solely as the final resting place for our 25th president, it has effectively reinvented itself as a museum campus of sorts. The site appeals to not only those interested in McKinley and presidential history, but students of other scientific disciplines as well.
Located not far from Interstate 77 in Canton, Ohio, the towering memorial can be seen for miles. McKinley was tragically assassinated in September, 1901 and was laid to rest in a temporary tomb until a suitable memorial could be planned and built. Six years later, the McKinley Memorial was dedicated, and it is where the president and his family are entombed.
Today, fitness enthusiasts walk or jog the 108 steps leading to the entrance of the memorial, and it is a popular gathering place for school groups, continuing education classes, and visitors. On site, the visitor will find an active planetarium, exhibit space dedicated to McKinley memorabilia, and rotating exhibits focused on various aspects of American history.
One of the more popular attractions is the Street of Shops, a museum like exhibit of shops circa 1900. Various artifacts from that time period are displayed, like early model fire engines and machinery used in that era. There is also a museum shop on site which carries a wide variety of items appealing to all interest levels.
The site is open daily and there is a nominal admission charge. Visitors should allow about an hour to see all the various exhibits, which rotate frequently and often feature items from the Smithsonian and other presidential museums.
While McKinley and his family once owned a home in Canton and planned to return here after his second term as president, the home was not preserved and no longer exists. The home of his wife, also located in Canton, is now the First Ladies Library, dedicated to America’s first ladies. The building is where the McKinley family lived when the future president and his wife were first married.
Canton is also known for several popular local restaurants in the nearby downtown area, any of which make a perfect stop for lunch or dinner. The city is probably best known for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, located a short five minute drive from the McKinley memorial museum.
If you are traveling to or from Cleveland, we highly recommend a stop in Canton. For sports fans, the Football Hall of Fame is a must see, while anyone with even a passing interest in history will enjoy a visit to the McKinley museum campus.