Canton in Stark County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Symbolism of the McKinley National Memorial
Each detail incorporated into the Monument was designed to symbolically tell the visitor about William McKinley.
According to the architect’s writings Harold Van Buren Magonigle’s design considered these factors:
• The Memorial was to be dedicated to a great man of simple and dignified life.
• It was to be erected in a small city, not a metropolitan center.
• The funds were not such to warrant a lavish display, even if that had been appropriate, which it was not.
In the most basic terms the design was a long vista between walls of foliage leading up to a green terraced hill crowned by the Monument.
Half way up the staircase stands a large bronze statue of President McKinley. The sculptor, Charles Henry Niehaus, based his design on a photograph by Francis B. Johnston of the President giving his last speech in Buffalo shortly before he was shot. It is 9½ feet tall and depicts President McKinley holding a manuscript of his speech. Behind him is a chair, symbolic of the chair of state, with a 45-star flag draped over it.
The Exterior Lunette
Above the doorway to the entrance of the Monument is a bronze exterior lunette, representing the 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 background a laurel tree spreads its leaves, expressing the flowering and fruition of Peace.
The Interior Lunette
On the opposite side of the exterior lunette is the interior lunette. It represents the power of the President both in peace and in war. The circular Presidential seal sits in the center above the sword, obscuring the blade. There are stylized fasces (bound wooden rods) on each side, symbolic of supreme power and authority. On the far right and left are cornucopia, which stand for the abundance of peace.
At the top of the dome is a magnificent red, white and blue stained glass skylight. It has 45 stars in it representing the 45 states that were in the Union at the time of the President’s death. While it was part of the original design, the skylight was never installed.
White Associates, a Canton glass company, constructed the current skylight using the original plans. It was installed during a restoration project that coincided with the bicentennial celebration of the United States in 1976.
In the center of the Monument rests the double sarcophagus carved from dark green granite from Windsor, Vermont. It is carved from a single block, but designed to appear as two-in-one. It rests on a base of “Black Berlin” granite from Wisconsin. Lions’ heads carved into the four corners of the base guard the President. Around the top of the double sarcophagus is a band of gilded laurel, symbolizing the triumph of love over death. Gold plated bronze letters spell out the simple names: William McKinley, Ida McKinley.
“It would be far more dignified and impressive to raise the double sarcophagus above the mortuary chamber floor so that visitors should lift their eyes to the illustrious dead.”
The Overall Design
Magonigle envisioned the Monument at the center of a large cross, representing the martyred President. The approach roads, “Long Water,” and the main flight of stairs form the southern arm of the cross. Smaller flights of stairs create the eastern and western arms, and the northern arm is outlined by a straight driveway. The cross also forms the handle of a sword, symbolizing McKinley’s military career and his role as Commander-in-Chief during the Spanish-American War.
The blade of the sword was formed by what was called the “Long Water,” a 575-foot lagoon made up of five different levels, each 20 inches higher than the one before. The water cascaded down and ended in a reflecting pool. It was taken out in the 1950s due to poor circulation and was filled in and landscaped.
Around the base of the dome is a quotation from the last speech that President McKinley ever gave. It gives profound insight into the type of person he was and the strong convictions that he lived by. It reads:
“Let us ever remember that our interest is in concord, not conflict, and that our real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not those of war.”
Location. 40° 48.435′ N, 81° 23.576′ W. Marker is in Canton, Ohio, in Stark County. Marker is on Monument Drive NW north of 7th Street NW. Touch for map. Marker is located to the right of the McKinley National Memorial, at the top of the stairs. Marker is in this post office area: Canton OH 44702, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Building the McKinley National Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); William McKinley (within shouting distance of this marker); Ohio War Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named William McKinley (about 300 feet away); The McKinley National Memorial (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named McKinley National Memorial (about 400 feet away); Base of the Conning Tower of the US Battleship Maine (approx. 0.4 miles away); French Cannon (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Canton.
More about this marker. Photographs of the McKinley statue, the interior and exterior lunettes, the skylight, the sarcophagus, and an aerial view of the Monument appear on the marker.
Categories. • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 11, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 204 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on September 11, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.