Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (V)

The High Street side of the Ohio Statehouse is dominated by the McKinley Memorial.


William McKinley was a Civil War veteran, a county prosecutor, a U.S. Congressman, and a two-term Ohio governor who was then elected President in 1896.  He presided over the Spanish-American War and was reelected to the Presidency in 1900, only to be felled by an assassin’s bullet while visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901.  He died shortly thereafter.  (Ohio Presidents aren’t the luckiest bunch.  Three — Garfield, McKinley, and Harding — died while in office, two by assassination.)

The McKinley Memorial was unveiled in 1906.  It features a large statue of the rotund former President, wearing frock coat and vest, looking west across High Street.  The story is that when McKinley was governor of Ohio, he and his wife lived at the Neil House across High Street from the Statehouse, and on his way to work in the morning he used to stop, look back across the street at his wife, and then wave goodbye.


McKinley’s statue is atop a large granite pedestal and looks down upon a stone basin flanked by statues depicting peace and prosperity.  “Prosperity” is represented by a serious, brawny, bearded man in blacksmith’s apron and sandals, standing next to a youthful apprentice; an open book and machine gears are visible nearby.  “Peace,” on the other hand, is represented by figures of a smiling woman and a young girl who looks on adoringly while holding flowers in her lap.

The McKinley Memorial cost $50,000, which was a considerable sum in the early 1900s.  Of that amount, half was appropriated by the Ohio Legislature, and the other half came from contributions — often in nickels, dimes, and quarters — by members of the general public who wanted to see the fallen President appropriately recognized.

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (I)

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (II)

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (III)

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (IV)

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