McKinley Memorial turns 100 next week, hosts longtime banquet

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – The McKinley Memorial in Niles — dedicated October 5, 1917 — turns 100-years-old next week.

Thursday evening, a longstanding tradition was held in the McKinley Memorial’s auditorium: The 102nd Mahoning Valley McKinley Club banquet.

“We’re the first presidential museum,” said Trish Scarmuzzi, the memorial curator. “We’re very pleased to say that.”

The memorial is dedicated to Niles-born U.S. President William McKinley. It has taken up an entire city block in downtown Niles for the last century.

The first couple banquets were held elsewhere, but when the memorial was built, the club moved its banquets to Niles.

The featured speaker Thursday was Grove City College Political Science Professor Paul Kengor. He brought along some of the dozen books he’s written on subjects like Ronald Reagan and communism.

“And so today in this ear, 2017, with [Donald] Trump as President — and always battling the Republican Congress — even a lot of Republicans don’t totally know what it really means to be a Republican today,” Kengor said. “What it means to be a conservative today.”

Mostly though, the evening was a chance for Republicans to socialize and talk about the issues and politics.

“The Republican party, we’re here, we’re back,” said J.D. Williams of the Trumbull Republican party. “We’re proud of our President and we’re moving forward together.”

Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe is thrilled that more Republican candidates are running for public office. He says that Republicans are, in some cases, challenging Democrats who’ve long held most of the power around Youngstown.

“To the extent that we have honest political competition in this Valley,” Munroe said. “That is good for county, that’s good for the Valley. It’s good for economic development. And we should be so pleased that we’re getting that finally.”

For as long as anyone can remember, the McKinley Club banquet was held in January around William McKinley’s birthday. It was changed just this year because the weather was often bad.

Also, the official celebration for the 100th anniversary of the memorial will be held on Oct. 14.