The return of the McKinley tiara to Canton - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

The return of the McKinley tiara to Canton

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CANTON, Ohio -

The curator for the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum could not believe her eyes when she saw the March 7th episode of Pawn Stars on the History Channel. A descendent of Ida McKinley's sister was selling the first lady's tiara to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas.

"And being concerned about people taking it apart and history being lost. I couldn't sleep that night," said Kim Kenney, Curator, McKinley Presidential Library and Museum.

It turned out that Rick Harrison, who owns the pawn shop, was a big fan of Ida McKinley's. She had epilepsy and so did he.

"My original plan was to auction it off and let all the money go to the Epilepsy Foundation," said Harrison.

Instead, Harrison gave the museum until June 24th to raise $43,000 to buy the tiara. Thanks to more than 400 donors, the museum reached that goal, three weeks early!

"We ended up with donations from 21 states besides Ohio, including Las Vegas," said Kenney. "Definitely from the Niles area where McKinley was born. So, throughout northeast Ohio, of course, was the bulk of the donations."

The tiara is now in Canton, near the resting site of the nation's twenty-fifth presidential family.

Mark Votaw contributed funds. He said the tiara's appearance on the television show was a blessing, "And the fact that it got there, meant that it could get back home again."

"I was worried in the beginning because it seemed like a lot of money. But as the donations started coming in and I saw some of the enthusiasm of the people involved, people donating, it became a very real thing," said donor Lorraine Weinman.

Nowadays, presidents know which of their items will be going into presidential museums while they're still alive. They didn't do that back in McKinley's time, that's why the museum has been lucky to acquire whatever it has and why getting the tiara here was so important.

"I'm very interested in Ida McKinley and we don't have a whole lot of information about her. We don't have a whole lot of her personal artifacts and things that she had. So, it was very important to be able to acquire this and have a part of Ida back here in Ohio," said donor Ginny Miller.

Just last week, Harrison gave the $43,000 to the Epilepsy Foundation. He called the whole experience a "win-win."

"Basically, the people in Ohio, not only did they raise money for the museum, they raised money for the Epilepsy Foundation, too," said Harrison.

Next to the tiara, is a provenance that includes its appearance on the Pawn Stars show and the fund raising campaign to bring it back to Canton. It's journey is now a part of documented history at the McKinley Museum.

And, it's new found fame has put the museum on the map.  "We're just so excited. It's tourism season. It's just perfect timing," said Kenney.

 

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