Over the years, eight United States Presidents have called Ohio home. This President’s Day, TourismOhio, in partnership with the Ohio History Connection, launched the Ohio Presidential Trail, and Hiram College is one of 13 stops. Highlighting homes, libraries, museums, and monuments, each location on the trail highlights life stories of our nation’s leaders.
Stops on the Ohio Presidential Trail include:
- William Henry Harrison Tomb, North Bend
- William Howard Taft National Historic Site, Cincinnati
- U.S. Grant Birthplace, Point Pleasant
- U.S. Grant Boyhood Home & Schoolhouse, Georgetown
- Warren G. Harding Home & Memorial, Marion
- Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museum, Fremont
- Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland
- James A. Garfield National Historic Site
- James A Garfield Birthplace, Moreland Hills
- Hiram College (where Garfield met his wife), Hiram
- William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Canton
- National First Ladies’ Library, Canton
- National McKinley Birthplace Memorial & McKinley Birthplace Home, Niles
A Legacy at Hiram College
Before serving as the 20th president of the United States, James A. Garfield was first a student and then served as the second principal from 1857-1863 of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, now known as Hiram College. He was instrumental in paving the way for the Eclectic Institute to achieve full collegiate status as Hiram College in 1867.
Today, a number of sites of the Hiram College campus reflect the impact Garfield made and the legacy he left.
Hiram’s Political Science Department is housed in the historic Koritansky Hall, a classic church that was moved from Mecca, Ohio. The church was at one time home to a parish under the guidance of former President Garfield. The building was painstakingly dismantled and restored on the College’s campus
In 2008 William Recker, a Hiram College Board of Trustee member, donated funds for the relocation, renovation and restoration of the former Church of Christ from Mecca, Ohio. In 2012, Recker made another generous gift to the Garfield Center, and in doing so he chose to create a permanent legacy honoring Professor John Koritansky by re-naming the meeting house to Koritansky Hall. John Koritansky, Ph.D., has taught at Hiram College as a professor of Political Science for 42 years.
In front of Koritansky Hall is a statue of James A. Garfield. The Martin Family, led by the family patriarch Paul E. Martin, has a legacy of generosity. Sons, Fred Martin ’64 and James Martin ’65, along with Jim’s wife, Karen (Wierwille) Martin ’64, have carried on the Martin family legacy at Hiram College with their own benevolence and advocacy. One of Paul’s last acts of philanthropy was to purchase the statue of Garfield that stands on the College’s campus.
Garfield Robbins Zimmerman Home
Built in 1853 and owned by the Garfield family from 1863 to 1874, the Garfield Robbins Zimmerman Home was in use by the former U.S. president after he served as principal of what was then the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College) and during part of his 18-years of service in Congress.
Thanks to the generosity of the Peskin family, John and Pat Zimmerman, and Norman ’61 and Hanna Kelker, improvements have been made to the Garfield Robbins Zimmerman Home. Work included electrical and support work, fresh paint to both the interior and exterior of the house, sanded and re-stained floors, and a complete porch repair.
The history of Buckingham Place begins the same year that Hiram College does, in 1850, when Colonel John and Esther Hank Buckingham bought a farm in Hiram, Ohio. Their home – now known as Buckingham Place – took form two years later. James A. Garfield, who was then a student at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College), is believed to have worked as a carpenter on the house. In 1935, Buckingham Place was deeded to Hiram College and served as the College president’s residence for several years after.