West Side News

World of Wonder exhibit

State's connection to White House on display


During her time in the White House, First Lady Ida McKinley knitted 4,000 pairs of slippers that she gave out freely to orphans, soldiers, foreign dignitaries and others.

One of those pairs will be part of this year's World of Wonder exhibit, "The First Ladies of Ohio." The exhibit, on display during September and October at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum and sponsored by the Grove City Town Center Inc., will showcase historical memorabilia related to the wives of eight men from Ohio who became president of the United States.

Seven U.S. presidents -- Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William H. Taft and Warren G. Harding -- were born in Ohio while another, William Henry Harrison, lived in Ohio at the time of his election.

The exhibit will feature about three dozen items, including dresses worn by Caroline Harrison and Helen Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes' wallet and vest, the aforementioned slippers knitted by Ida McKinley, campaign buttons and letters written by the First Ladies.

"The First Ladies were all very accomplished, very educated and very instrumental in doing a lot of things people don't realize until they come to the exhibit," said Dennise Hunt, vice president of the Grove City Arts Council and member of the Town Center's board of directors. "We hope when people come though, it'll make them more proud of their Ohio heritage."

For example, Caroline Harrison, wife of Benjamin Harrison, was the first president of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"There's going to be a lot of biographical information (at the exhibit)," Hunt said.

The items are on loan from the individual presidential libraries as well as the Ohio Historical Society and the National First Ladies' Library in Canton. There will also be photographs on display.

Hunt said the exhibit also works well for school groups because the artifacts provide a firsthand historical experience students might not otherwise get.

The Grove City Welcome Center and Museum is located at 3378 Park St. The exhibit is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, during the Arts in the Alley Music and Arts Festival and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 12, during the Harvest Market.

To schedule an appointment where someone will be on hand to answer questions, call 614-539-8762.