World's Oldest and Least Flattering McKinley Statue

Field review by the editors.

Muskegon, Michigan

This statue was unveiled only eight months after President William McKinley's assassination, and it was the first of many public sculptures based on a photograph of the President giving a speech the day before he was shot. In his rush, sculptor Charles Henry Niehaus created a less flattering, probably more true-to-life statue of McKinley than those that followed, with an ample belly, double chin, and big old bald head.

The statue was Niehaus's idea. He'd been working on a McKinley bust when the President was assassinated, and quickly got in touch with Muskegon lumber baron Charles Hackley, who'd already bought several statues from Niehaus. Would the millionaire, Niehaus asked, be interested in a full-size McKinley? Hackley said yes, rounded up $30,000 for it, and the statue was dedicated before an estimated crowd of 50,000 on May 30, 1902.

Niehaus was smart to act fast, because by the time many other McKinley tributes were built, Hackley was as dead as the former President.

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World's Oldest and Least Flattering McKinley Statue

Address:
349 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon, MI
Directions:
On the south side of W. Webster Ave. between 3rd and 4th Sts, in front of what is now the Muskegon Board of Education.
Admission:
Free
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September 26, 2017

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