This November, Magical History Tour marks its first anniversary with another Northeast Ohio president and first lady, William McKinley and his wife, Ida Saxton McKinley. So down to Canton we go, about an hour and 15 minute drive on I-77 S, to the National First Ladies’ Library and Saxton-McKinley House. All tours of the house are guided, and advance reservations are highly recommended. Free on-site parking is available.
In charming downtown Canton sits the “Grand Lady of Market Avenue,” a three-story brick house that is quintessentially Victorian: a wrap-around porch, arched windows, and architectural details and chimneys galore. Originally built in 1841 by George DeWalt, the house was expanded around 1865 by his son-in-law James Saxton, a prominent Canton banker and father of three children, of whom Ida was the eldest.
In regards to his daughters, James Saxton was unusually progressive for the era. He provided Ida and Mary with quality educations, sent them on a Grand Tour of Europe, and hired Ida at his bank, where she quickly rose to the rank of cashier and, in his absence, manager. A portrait of Ida hanging over the mantel in the parlor shows her as a very elegant and fashionably dressed (and coiffed) young woman. Instead of looking out at the viewer, she glances past the photographer and out of the frame, her eyes bright with an expressive thought.