Hail to the Chief, Ohio-Style
By Damaine Vonada

Hail to the Chief, Ohio-Style


Instead of hitting the sales on President’s Day, I’d rather get in touch with my inner patriot at Ohio’s presidential sites.  Ohio is nicknamed the “Mother of Presidents” for good reason.  It’s sent more citizens – 8! – to the White House than any other state.Ohio’s wide assortment of presidential destinations celebrate President’s Days with events that provide a little history and lots of fun. And since these holiday activities are free or inexpensive, I can bring the whole family and save money.   

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums




Whenever I take anyone to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, I always point out the entry gates’ presidential seals.  Those elegant iron gates were used at the White House during Hayes’s term in the 1870s, and they’re the first hint of the uniquely Ohio experience awaiting us at the nation’s only place with a president’s home, library, museum and gravesite.

After leaving Washington, President Hayes and wife Lucy lived in a splendid mansion that is now the Hayes Center’s showpiece. 

I think the mansion’s furnishings are like a mini-lesson in Victorian decor, and items like its American eagle door knocker or the cast of Lincoln’s hand in the study speak volumes about the Hayes’ devotion to their country.  



The Hayes Center sits on 25 acres of wooded grounds where President Hayes loved taking sleigh rides.  On President’s Day weekend, visitors can play like a president by climbing into a horse-drawn sleigh for a spirited spin – the fresh wind against your face and someone special cuddled up beside you – around the gorgeous estate. 

President Garfield succeeded President Hayes, and today his home likewise is the highlight of the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor.  Garfield campaigned from the front porch of the home, which features the first library dedicated to a president.  Built by his widow after Garfield’s assassination, the library has handsome carved oak paneling and contains keepsakes like the funeral wreath Queen Victoria sent. 

At Cincinnati’s William Howard Taft National Historic, rangers lead tours through the boyhood home of the only person who was both a U.S. president and Supreme Court Chief Justice; Canton’s McKinley Presidential Library & Museum showcases William McKinley and his hometown.  I always take time to look at its impressive McKinley memorabilia collection, and if I’m feeling energetic, I join the locals who get their exercise jogging on the long stairs to the McKinley Memorial, the president’s magnificent and scenic final resting place.          



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