Monday, March 16, 2009

Canton, Ohio: First Ladies Historic Site

As "national parks" go, the First Ladies Historic Site is an odd one. For starters, it consists of two buildings ... a block apart. The tour starts at the Education and Research Center, which is in a converted bank building (in fact, visitors see the vault). There are some exhibits there, some dealing with clothes and dishes, and a small auditorium. The research library is in the upper floors. Then it's back down the street to Ida McKinley's family house, which shows how the former First Lady lived.

Paying tribute to First Ladies isn't a bad idea, of course. Still, this facility concentrates on Mrs. McKinley, at least to the public side. Would it be cynical to suggest that the Site seems like a way to get federal dollars to fix up an old building used by a First Lady and pump some money into downtown Canton? Maybe a little. While the Saxton McKinley House is impressive enough, it's fair to say that the potential audience for this Site is limited.

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