The Harding Home, the residence of Warren G. and Florence Harding from 1891 to 1921, has been open continuously as a museum since 1926. The museum opened just three years after President Harding died from a heart attack in 1923. Mrs. Harding died just 15 months later from kidney disease, which had plagued her for many years. In her will, she made arrangements for the home and the bulk of the contents to go into the hands of the Harding Memorial Association.
The HMA formed just after President Harding’s death on Aug. 2, 1923 to oversee fundraising to construct the Harding Memorial at the intersection of Vernon Heights Boulevard and Delaware Avenue. They owned the 10-acre Memorial site and the Harding Home until 1979, when both sites were turned over to the State of Ohio. The sites today are administered by the Ohio History Connection with the help of local manager Marion Technical College.
When the museum opened in February 1926, visitors could view just the first four rooms of the residence – the reception hall, parlor, library and dining room. The rooms were not presented as they were when the Hardings lived there; instead, all of the rooms featured glass display cases of objects. Photos and framed documents covered the walls. The on-site caretakers lived upstairs.
In 1965, the HMA completed a restoration of the Home, showcasing it for the first time as a house museum. The group chose 1900 as the year it wanted to depict, choosing wallpapers that reflected that year. The caretakers continued to perform the maintenance and lead tours, but now lived off-site.
After the Memorial and Home were shifted to the State of Ohio, the Ohio History Connection (Ohio Historical Association) renovated the 1920 Press House as a museum and gift shop.
In April of 2016, the Harding Home Presidential Site, Ohio History Connection, and Marion Technical College announced a collaborative project called Harding 2020. The project includes the full restoration of the Harding Home, grounds, and Press House and the establishment of the Warren G. Harding Presidential Library and Museum. The project will be completed in 2020, which is the 100th anniversary of Harding’s famous front porch campaign and his election to the presidency. For more information on Harding 2020, visit our project page.