McKinley Museum Spotlights Stark County
Near the foot of the McKinley Monument, Stark County Historical Society has gathered interesting information and memorabilia regarding the surrounding area. as well as the life of William McKinley. The bust of McKinley greets visitors outside the building.
As you enter the lobby of the McKinley Museum in Canton, Ohio, a sign with a quote caught my eye. It was a word of advice to young people from President William McKinley:
“Young men and women, what your education will be and do for you depends upon yourselves.”
Within these walls is quite an extensive history of the Stark County area including leading enterprises, such as Belden Brick, Dueber-Hampden Watch Company, Erie Canal, Hoover Vacuum, Pennsylvania Railroad, and Timken Company just to name a few. Henry Timken founded Timken Roller Bearing Company in 1902 and his entrepeneur vision was grounded in this type of thinking:
“If you have an idea which you think is right, push it to a finish. But above all, don’t set your name to anything you will ever have cause to be ashamed of.”
McKinley Museum had many interesting exhibits throughout, too numerable to mention. Here are a few things that caught my eye on a recent visit.
One fascinating display showed a clock tower made by Dueber-Hampden Watch Co with a sign “Accurate to the Second.” That was way back in 1889! By 1890 the company was producing 600 watches a day in Canton, Ohio and had over a thousand employees. They used 14 karat gold in their watch cases and had 17 jewel movement, quite advanced for their time. This company was sold to a Russian company in 1927 and twenty-one former employees went to Russia to teach them their craft. One report is that their machinery is still being used in China today.
The Hoover Vacuum provided a display that attracted lines of children. While seated in a chair, they pressed a button which created enough suction to lift them well off the floor. The Power of the Hoover! It is very fitting to be highlighted here as the first upright vacuum was invented by a department store janitor, James Spangler, in Canton back in 1906. He just happened to show it to his cousin, Susan Hoover, who in turn shared it with her husband. “Boss” Hoover bought the patent from Spangler, hired him as Superintendent, and slowly began the switch from maker of leather-goods to vacuum manufacturer. The slogan: “It beats..as it Sweeps…as it Cleans” brought the Hoover Vacuum to the forefront.
This was the original hand-sewn 45 star American flag that hung on the front porch of McKinley’s home during the 1896 presidential campaign. During his famous “Front Porch Campaign”, McKinley made himself available to the public every Sunday afternoon on the front porch of his home. Usually he was seated in his rocking chair from which he talked to 750,000 people who stopped by. Some say he shook hands with up to a million men from that front porch scene. This campaign appealed to the average voter, who found themselves drawn to a candidate that stayed true to his roots.
Rooms were redesigned to look very much like the ones of long ago with their Victorian furnishings. A touch of some form of music was often in evidence as that would have been one of their main means of entertainment. In the parlor, you had an opportunity to listen to talking figures of William and Ida McKinley. Notice that he does have on his symbol, the red carnation.These plastic figures are activated by sensors when you enter the room.
The Hazlett Theater is a fine spot to give your feet a rest and watch some old films from days gone by. Here you hear about the campaigns of William McKinley and get to have an inside video tour of the Memorial.
There weren’t enough hours in the day, so sadly missed the show at the Hoover Price Planetarium where visitors view the solar system and beyond. They say it is like traveling to space without leaving the ground. Unfortunately, didn’t make it to Discover World either where dinosaurs and early American Indians welcome visitors to Natural History Island, Ecology Island and the new spot, Fascination Station. Looks like a return visit is in order.
The McKinley Museum is located in downtown Canton, Ohio just off I-77. Take Exit 105 for OH 172, then turn right on 7th Street NW. Take the first left onto McKinley Monument Drive where the Museum is located to the left when facing the memorial. Enjoy a little piece of Ohio history.