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President McKinley hosts last card reception

Editor’s note: This is part of a weekly series marking the 120th anniversary of Niles native William McKinley’s U.S. presidency.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15:

“The President and Mrs. McKinley gave their last card reception of the year last evening, when the guests were chiefly the officers of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, with the addition of between 800 and 1,000 representatives of Congressional, diplomatic and resident society. Although the custom of issuing invitations to meet the various bodies of the official world has been discontinued, the reception last night was distinctly in honor of the Army and the Navy.”

The event was attended by many members of the House and the Senate. Foreign diplomats such as Secretary of War Elihu Root and Sen. John Kean, as well as the Belgian minister, were all in attendance. The reception was a grand affair which was described in detail:

“The scene in the East Room and corridor was extremely brilliant, even before the coming of the receiving party, which was welcomed by the recently introduced bugle call. In addition to the veiling of the smilax and huge banks of cut flowers on each mirror and mantel in the great East Room, scores of flags were used. Every windows recess was hung with the national colors, in place of the usual bower of palms. In the corridor the gorgeous silk banner, which is the president’s own flag, the Secretary of War, of the Secretary of the Navy, and the four starred flags of the Admiral of the Navy shared places of honor over the wide doorways and were objects of interest to all visitors.”

The Washington Post reported on the same day of the renovation of McKinley’s old home in Canton:

“Contractor Hosea R. Jones, of the city, began today to remodel the McKinley home on North Market street, made famous by the 1896 delegation campaign. The residence, at that time rented by Mr. McKinley, is the same in which Mr. and Mrs. McKinley began married life, and tender recollections created a desire on their part to purchase the place.”

The article went on to describe the remodeling:

“The front part of the house, including the room occupied by the president as his office and reception room in 1896, and the living room across the hall, used by Mrs. McKinley, are to remain the same. The dining-room is to give way to a commodious office for the president. The old kitchen and dining-room will be replaced by more modern rooms for the same purpose, extending from the west side and including several other rooms. The plans are such that they will readily admit of further additions to the residence if desired.”

The contract outlined that the work on the home should be done no later than July 1, 1900. This is the same home that nearly cost the president his ability to vote in the last election.

Zachery Parsons is an intern at the McKinley Memorial Museum.

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