William McKinley Memorial, Niles, Ohio
THE National McKinley Birthplace Memorial Association—a society
chartered by Congress in 1911—proposed in 1914 to erect a memorial
to William McKinley in his native city, and held an architectural
The following quotation from the program
of the competition gives the character of the problem:
“The projected memorial will take
the form of a monument and a building so grouped as to form an ensemble.
The monument will consist of a full-figure statue of President McKinley,
with suitable pedestal and architectural setting. The building,
while destined for practical service to the community, should nevertheless
be designed in the spirit of a memorial.”
The requirements of the building were
an auditorium, a public library, a museum room for McKinley memorials
and the meeting of local posts of war veterans, offices for trustees
and service rooms. Settings were to be provided for tablets to donors
and busts of local historical personages and associates of the late
McKim, Mead & White were selected
as architects in the competition, and Massey Rhind was appointed
sculptor by the building committee.
The building was carried out by the
architects without a single important deviation from the competition
drawings, and an inspection of the accompanying illustrations will
show how appropriate to the problem their solution has proven to
be. The memorial statue is placed in an open atrium surrounded by
a colonnade of great delicacy of proportion in the Doric style.
The auditorium and library are both street level rooms, and the
isolation of the auditorium permits of an economical operation of
the heating plant, as well as insuring a quiet library.
The exterior of the building is faced
with white Georgia marble, and the statue and pedestal are of the
same material. The ceiling of the open colonnade shows a very interesting
use of architectural terra cotta. A classic coffered ceiling was
designed and this was executed in polychrome terra cotta of a cream
white ground, upon which the ornament is picked out in the primary
colors of the ancient Greek palette,—blue, yellow, red and green.
The color scheme was worked out after
a careful study of the available records of Greek polychrome decoration
and executed with the hearty co-operation of the terra-cotta manufacturers,
who extended themselves to produce the clear and brilliant colors
in the small quantities and confined spaces which the style demanded.
The effect produced is of great beauty and decision, due to the
use of limited quantities of strong color, rather than broader masses
of “pastel shades,” which are often employed by modern designers
in their all too rare excursions into this field of designing in