Warren G. Harding became the 29th president of the United States after running a campaign hinged on “a return to normalcy.” Much of that campaign was conducted from Harding’s own front porch, where crowds, eventually numbering about 600,000 people from all over Ohio and the nation, would flock to hear him speak.
The dark green house, trimmed in cream-colored paint, was built by Mr. Harding in 1891, just in time for his marriage to a local divorcee and daughter of the richest man in town, Florence Mabel Kling DeWolfe, who had a young son, Marshall, by her previous husband. They were married on the stairs in the entrance hall of the home.
Mr. Harding, the owner and publisher of the local newspaper, The Marion Daily Star, was an ardent supporter of Marion. Eventually, he turned his newspaper into one of the most successful in Ohio. He later also became lieutenant governor of Ohio and a U.S. Senator from the Buckeye State.
In 1920, Mr. Harding was urged by his friends and associates to make a run for the presidency. Originally somewhat reluctant to do so, Mr. Harding eventually agreed and conducted what turned out to be the last front porch presidential campaign. On his 55th birthday, November 2, 1920, he won by the largest landslide of any candidate up until that time, defeating the sitting Ohio governor James Cox.
Even though Harding would be remembered in an unfavorable light after news of corruption leaked following his death (he’s historically ranked as one of the least popular presidents), the sheer volume of Harding artifacts in his old house makes it worth a visit. Most museums are lucky if they can display a presidential suite, but the Warren G. Harding Home has more than 5,000 authentic, at times quirky, items associated with the former leader. The historic home contains one of the most complete collection of original artifacts of any presidential site in the nation, with over 95% originality.
The Harding Home is now owned by the Ohio History Connection in Columbus, Ohio, and is run in partnership with the local Marion Technical College.
Update July 2019: The home is slated to reopen in the spring of 2020, hopefully in time for the 100th anniversary of his 1920 front porch campaign for President.