William McKinley statue (Patigian)

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The statue of President William McKinley on the Plaza in Arcata, California.

The McKinley statue for the purposes of this article refers to one of various statues of President of the United States William McKinley, specifically the 8.5-foot (2.6 m) bronze statue in Arcata, California.

Inscriptions on the pedestal of the McKinley statue. At top is inscribed the sculptor's name, and below, the statue's dedication.

This statue of McKinley was commissioned by 81-year-old 49'er George Zehndner in 1905.[1]:22 Zehndner had met McKinley in 1901 and was much impressed by "the first modern president".[citation needed] The president's assassination soon after moved Zehndner to memorialize the president.[citation needed] Zehndner paid $15,000 for the nine-foot statue.[1]:22

The statue was sculpted by Haig Patigian in San Francisco, California,[1]:22 where it fell over during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake but was cushioned by a large plaster model that had braced its fall. The artist discovered his statue lying down in a foundry near the waterfront south of Market Street in San Francisco.[citation needed] Patigian feared his statue might melt, but he had to leave it since it was too large for him to move.[citation needed] A week later, the foundry owner told Patigian that the statue had been destroyed.[citation needed]

Patigian later discovered that his statue of McKinley had been saved from the burning foundry by the employee of a nearby machine shop, along with several passersby.[1]:22 They had hauled the statue onto a truck, which succumbed to the flames.[citation needed] The statue was moved by steamboat to the nearby port town of Eureka in May 1906. Zehndner presented the statue to the city of Arcata on July 4, 1906, as "a gift to the city of Arcata for all time to come."[1]:22 Two thousand people, more visitors than the town had ever received, came to Arcata for the unveiling.[citation needed]

The statue, located in the middle of the Arcata Plaza, is in the center of the town's cultural activity.[1]:22 The statue has been embroiled in controversy in Arcata, a liberal college town in Humboldt County, California, since the 1970s.[1]:22 Opponents of the statue decry McKinley's racist and imperialistic policies, while defenders support the statue's historical importance and characterize removal attempts as censorship.[1]:22


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Arcata Union; Arcata Eye (2008). On This Day In Arcata. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-5682-6. 

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Coordinates: 40°52′07″N 124°05′11″W / 40.868565°N 124.086518°W / 40.868565; -124.086518