By the Marion Star
MARION – In 1920, the nation’s attention turned to Marion, Ohio, during Warren G. Harding’s “front porch” presidential campaign. One hundred years later, Marion will again be at center stage as the community celebrates the centennial of Harding’s successful campaign and highlight his White House legacy.
The latest community partner to help cement that legacy is OhioHealth in Marion, which has committed to a $20,000 per year gift to the Harding 2020 project over a five-year period — $100,000 in total.
Last fall, the Marion Community Foundation announced $31,250 to the Harding Home and Presidential Center project, and an intention to provide similar awards over the next eight years for a total of $250,000 in support. That was in addition to the $225,000 previously granted to the project in early 2016 to assist with the acquisition of neighboring properties to expand the current home site.
Harding 2020 will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Warren G. Harding’s election, while allowing for a more comprehensive interpretation of the life of the 29th president. The Ohio History Connection and Marion Technical College are working together to transform the Warren G. Harding Home Presidential Site.
This collaborative effort includes the complete restoration of the Harding Home, as well as the establishment of the Harding Presidential Center, which will serve as a visitor center, museum, archives and multi-purpose event facility.
“Having OhioHealth on board with the Harding 2020 project is terrific. OhioHealth is a vital part of the Marion community, and we’re thrilled that it recognizes the importance of the Harding project at both a local and national level,” said Harding Home Presidential Site Manager Sherry Hall.
The goal of Harding 2020 is to restore the Harding Home to the 1920 era of Harding’s successful “front porch” campaign, which brought national attention to Marion. At that time, droves of people came to Marion to hear then-Senator Warren G. Harding speak. Countless Americans watched newsreel footage of the crowds from their local movie theaters.
“President Harding’s history is a large part of Marion’s pride. Securing the legacy through supporting the Harding 2020 project is important. It brings tourism, economic growth, and nostalgia. All wonderful reasons to be a community partner in the restoration of Marion’s past,” said Bruce Hagen, the president of OhioHealth Marion General Hospital.
The Presidential Center will create an experience that is so much more than just a tour of the home and chronology of Harding’s political career, Hall said. “It will allow us to finally tell Harding’s story in its entirety. We will cover all aspects of Harding’s life, including the controversial.”
The presidential center “will become the national repository of “all things Harding,” Hall said.
The new facility will include a large exhibit gallery, a research room and multimedia classrooms.The presidential site will be part of the cultural corridor being developed by the Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which starts at the Harding Home and continues through downtown Marion.