CANTON — A statue of President William McKinley is slated to travel 2,000-plus miles from a city along California’s northern coast to Canton.
“We are very excited to have been awarded the statue,” Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei said hours after talking with Arcata, Calif., officials.
The Arcata City Council decided Wednesday that it should be relocated to Canton, said Mayor Brett Watson. Exactly when it will go to Canton has not been determined.
“Those details we’re still working on,” Watson said.
The 8-foot tall McKinley statue, given to the city by a former Arcata resident in 1906, still stands in a city plaza. A crane will need to secure it before it can be detached from its granite base. Watson said the city’s priority is removing the statue, which might be stored while transportation and other logistics are determined.
McKinley had no ties to Arcata. Its council voted in February 2018 to remove the sculpture after residents decried McKinley’s imperialist actions and approval of policies that took land from native tribes.
The vote was followed by a required environmental study, which was certified Wednesday, and a failed referendum to stop the statue’s removal.
The city received three private offers for the statue’s relocation, but Watson said Canton had the benefit of a historical connection. Conversations with Canton leaders assured Arcata officials that the statue would be valued and remain viewable to the public.
In a recent letter to the mayor and city manager, Bernabei also offered $15,000 — Arcata’s costs thus far — in addition to funding the statue’s restoration and relocation.
“All those things put together really strengthened the offer from Canton,” Watson said.
Bernabei said news coverage by The Canton Repository of the sculpture’s fate spurred locals into action late last year. No taxpayer money will be used for the relocation, which is being facilitated by private families and foundations.
The Timken Foundation, Coon Restoration & Sealants, and members of the Belden family, who are descendants of McKinley, are noted in Bernabei’s initial letter to Arcata.
“We have not yet identified what the final location may be, and we will be working through that process in the next several weeks, several months, depending on when the statue actually gets back to Canton,” Bernabei said.
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