National McKinley Birthplace Memorial in Niles, Ohio

national-mckinley-birthplace-memorial-in-niles-ohioPresident Taft gave permission for congressional funding to be allocated in March of 1911 for a national monument or memorial to be constructed in McKinley’s town of birth which was Niles. Within the act, the creation of the National McKinley Birthplace Association was announced. A close childhood friend, Joseph Butler Jr., became the president of the association. He started the campaign locally in order to raise the $100,000 funds in 1912 for the construction of the memorial. Without using any taxpayer money, he raised $200,000 and asked for a public donation of only $1 which would be used to create a permanent endowment.

Every person that donated that donated the $1 would obtain a book that explained the building of the Memorial, and Butler as the author would autograph every one of them. The book would also have a photo of McKinley that had been reproduced along with the copy of the congressional act that made the memorial possible.

The association asked for architectural proposals with the chosen designer winning a prize in 1915. The location of the monument had been chosen which was a 5-acre park using municipal funds from the town of Niles. Stipulations set by the association for the Memorial would be a two-story building made in granite which would include an officials meeting room, an assembly hall for veterans, a room for relics, a library open to the public, and an auditorium that would accommodate up to 1,000 individuals.

Other requirements were to have a statue of McKinley along with bronze busts of Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie, Butler, Marcus Hanna, and Theodore Roosevelt, among others.

McKim, Mead, and White won the architectural contest in 1915 and won the $1,000 prize. The design chosen was similar to Roman and Greek themes creating a unique memorial to honor McKinley and could be seen from Main Street in Niles.

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