Statehouse News

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Ohio Statehouse will observe the 170th anniversary of Ohio Governor and U.S. President William McKinley’s birth on his January 29th birthday with its annual Red Carnation Day. The day-long commemoration honors McKinley and his contributions to Ohio, the country and world while serving as Ohio Governor and U.S. President. William McKinley was born on January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio. 

Individuals wearing a red carnation or dressed in scarlet during this special day will receive a 20% discount on one item (some exclusions apply) in the Statehouse Museum Shop and a 10% discount on purchases in the Capitol Cafe. The shop and cafe are located on the ground floor of the Ohio Statehouse. Red Carnation Day will also feature information highlighting President McKinley during Statehouse tours. 

The observance will include an exhibit on the history of Carnation Day and a summary of William McKinley’s career. 

Dayton, Ohio, native Lewis G. Reynolds founded the Carnation League of America in 1903 to. The League encouraged all Americans to wear a red carnation on William McKinley’s birthday, January 29. McKinley’s favorite flower was the carnation and he often wore one on his lapel and handed them out to White House visitors. 

Members of Carnation League believed they should have a creed that reflected their aims of patriotism, progress, prosperity and peace. The league successfully created the creed and kept the celebration of the day for many years, but eventually the public lost interest. OSMEC or CSRAB brings back to life the legacy of the league and the commemoration of the day. 

About the State Flower and its Connection to William McKinley 
President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901 during a visit to the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. Shot twice with a hand gun, President McKinley survived eight days before his death on September 14. On February 3, 1904, the Ohio General Assembly enacted legislation making the scarlet carnation the state flower. This was done specifically to honor William McKinley, Ohio Governor (1892-1896) and U.S. President (1897-1901), who regularly wore this type of flower on his lapel. 

McKinley’s floral signature goes back to the election of 1876, when he was running for a seat in the United States Congress. His opponent for the seat was Levi Lamborn, of Alliance, Ohio. Lamborn was a physician and keen amateur horticulturist, and had developed a strain of bright scarlet carnations he dubbed “Lamborn Red.” Dr. Lamborn presented McKinley with a “Lamborn Red” boutonniere before their debates, and after his election victory, the future President saw the red carnation as a good luck charm. He wore one on his lapel regularly and presented visitors to his office carnations from a vase. Moments before he was shot by an assassin, it is reported that McKinley had removed the carnation from his lapel and presented it to a young girl. Dr. Lamborn was instrumental in efforts to enact the legislation that made the scarlet carnation the state flower of Ohio. In 1959, the Ohio Legislature named Alliance, Ohio “the Carnation City.” 

To view this press release and others, visit 

The Ohio Statehouse is more than a monument to our past; it's where history happens! The Ohio Statehouse is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed holidays. The Ohio Statehouse Museum is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends from noon to 4 p.m.; closed holidays. Admission is free. Free guided tours are offered weekdays on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and weekends from noon to 3 p.m. Tours depart from the Map Room easily accessible from the Third Street entrance. Groups of 10 or more are requested to call in advance to ensure a guide is available. Contact 888/OHIO-123 for more information or to schedule a group tour. For more information about the Ohio Statehouse visit 

The Ohio Statehouse is handicapped accessible and senior friendly. The Capitol Square complex was restored to allow for greater access by individuals living with disabilities. Ohio Statehouse public programs and events are held in accessible and barrier free areas of the building so that everyone can participate. Ohio Statehouse visitors needing disability-related accommodations in order to fully participate in an event may contact the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board at or 614/752-9777 to communicate special needs. Please allow three weeks for arrangements to be completed. 

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) is responsible for maintaining the historic character of the Statehouse and Capitol Square while providing for the health, safety and convenience of those who work in or visit the complex. The Ohio Statehouse Museum Education Center coordinates tours of Capitol Square and provides information about the buildings, their history and Ohio's government. 

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