First Ladies National Historic Site

Overview

Authorized in 2000, this small site in Canton, Ohio is dedicated to preserving documents related to the wives of American presidents (and hopefully someday husbands, too).  It is centered on the Victorian mansion where William and Ida McKinley lived from 1878 to 1891, while the future president served in Congress.  However, not all “First Ladies” were married to the president, as Dolley Madison served as hostess to the White House for a single Thomas Jefferson before her husband was elected president.  This two-acre site is operated by the National First Ladies’ Library, so we are not sure why this counts as one of the 420 National Park Service (NPS) units rather than an affiliated site.

Highlights

Museum, film, Saxton-McKinley house

Must-Do Activity

Located downtown in the 1895 City National Bank Building, the Education and Research Center serves as a museum, visitor center, and theater.  Start your visit in the museum filled with dresses and other memorabilia of first ladies and purchase a ticket for the guided tour.  On the lower level is a 91-seat Victorian theater where a short film is presented.  Costumed guides will walk your tour group one block from the theater to the Saxton-McKinley house and inside to see the period furnishings and reproduced wallpaper. 

Best Trail

None

Instagram-worthy Photo

The 1841 brick Victorian mansion was the childhood home of Ida Saxton, who would marry William McKinley.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/fila/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$7 per person for tour ($4 with the America the Beautiful pass)

Road Conditions

Free parking is available behind the Saxton-McKinley house.

Camping

The NPS does not offer camping here or at nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but there are many other lodging options since the Pro Football Hall of Fame is also located in Canton, Ohio.

Related Sites

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

James A. Garfield National Historic Site (Ohio)

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (Ohio)

Explore More – Some U.S. Presidents were widowers or bachelors, so the question is have there been more First Ladies or Presidents?

6 thoughts on “First Ladies National Historic Site”

  1. We went to the McKinley Library & Museum last summer but somehow missed this. I’ll watch the virtual tour online and maybe someday go back to see it in person. Thanks for the post and bringing it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

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