Preservation Merit Award
for the restoration of the National McKinley Birthplace Memorial, 40 North Main Street, Niles
The National McKinley Birthplace Memorial, in Niles, Ohio, is a tribute to the birth place of our 25th president. Commissioned by President Williams Howard Taft, but built with private donations, it was designed by the New York architectural firm of McKim Mead & White, and completed in 1915. The facility consists of a central courtyard to house the John Massey-Rhind sculpture of President McKinley, a public library in one wing, and a museum and auditorium in the other.
An analysis of the condition of the memorial revealed that the exterior marble needed cleaning and repair along with the terra cotta fascia and soffit within the courtyard. Some of the courtyard's original marble pavers had been replaced by concrete, with the remaining marble pavers were cracked due to uneven settlement. Further investigation determined that there were roofing and drainage issues that were contributing to the deterioration of the structure.
The deterioration problems were addressed by removing and re-installing the original tile roof over a new waterproof membrane, using replacement clay tiles as needed from an original stock-pile, and repairing the copper flashing. Drainage problems were addressed by installing a small scale storm water retention system below the existing landscaping beds in the courtyard. The marble walls, floor, and statue were cleaned and repaired, including tuck pointing of walls and floors where required. Damaged terra cotta was patched to match the existing, and all inappropriate patches from prior repairs were removed and appropriately patched with salvage marble.
Other restoration at the site included re-glazing the original windows and restoring them to operable use, and replacing the three large skylights that had been roofed over for the past 20 years.
The National McKinley Birthplace Memorial Association was formed to oversee the construction of the memorial in 1915 and continues today to act as caretaker of the building and trust fund that supports it. The recently completed restoration project is the first major renovation to the memorial since its construction nearly 100 years ago.
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