STORY AND PHOTOS by William D. Lewis
Presidents Day originally was created to celebrate George Washington’s birthday Feb. 22, but in 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February and recognizes Abraham Lincoln, who was born Feb. 12, and other presidents as well.
One American president with ties to the Mahoning Valley is William McKinley, who was born in Niles on Jan. 29, 1843. He fought in the Union Army during the Civil War and was elected Ohio governor in 1891. He served as the 25th president from 1897 until his assassination in Buffalo, N.Y., during his second term in 1901.
The National McKinley Birthplace Memorial on North Main Street in downtown Niles was completed in 1917 at a cost of more than $500,000.
The memorial centerpiece is a large statue of McKinley. One wing of the memorial houses the McKinley Memorial Library and the other the McKinley Museum.
Surrounding the statue and ringing the walls of the museum are bronze busts weighing more than 800 pounds of members of McKinley’s cabinet and other prominent citizens of the time.
The museum has items from McKinley’s early life in Niles, his Civil War experiences, and documents and memorabilia from his presidency.
About a block down Main Street from the memorial is the McKinley Birthplace Home and Research Center, which is a replica of the home where McKinley was born. The center is open today for tours from noon to 4 p.m.