Education and Research Center


The National First Ladies’ Library was given the City National Bank Building located on Market Avenue just a block north of the Ida Saxton McKinley house by the Marsh Belden, Sr. family in 1997.   The goal to renovate the building and adapt it to the library’s growing need for space began almost immediately.

On July 23, 1999, this renovation project was designated as an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures, a Millennium Council initiative created by President and Mrs. Clinton.   Mrs. Clinton came to Canton, Ohio to announce the dedication at that time. A $2.5 million match grant was awarded through Save America’s Treasures for the renovation.


The building was constructed in 1895 and has seven floors with approximately 20,000 square feet of usable space.   It had a large skylight over the main banking room on the first floor that has been fully restored, as well as an extensive glass block floor under the skylight, a portion of which has been restored. The upper floors of the building are designed in a “U” shape with two wings connected by a lobby that create a “light well” for the skylight below.   There is extensive use of marble on the first floor foyer/lobby and main banking room, as well as in the lobbies on the upper floors of the building.   Transom windows were used throughout the building to provide additional light into the rooms.   The lower level originally was used for public baths and later for small shops.

This building is the National First Ladies’ Library Education and Research Center.   There is a 91-seat Victorian Theatre on the lower level, where films and documentaries on the first ladies are shown and author lectures and live presentations are held.   The first floor has a large meeting/reception/exhibit room featuring restorations of the original skylight and a portion of the original glass block floor. Also on the first floor is a small library room, with a spiral staircase leading to a mezzanine where rare books are kept.   This library also houses a collection of books that replicates the first White House Library created by First Lady Abigail Fillmore.

A monumental staircase constructed of cast iron railings, a wood handrail and slate steps leads to the upper floors of the building.   The second floor is the main library area, having an east and west library with research and study space connected by a lobby with marble floors and wainscoting.   Most of the office walls have been removed on this floor; however, the transom windows remain to indicate where the office walls were originally located.   The third floor has a substantial size conference room where seminars and workshops are held and several small rooms for researchers, and the fourth, fifth and sixth floors have office space for library personnel, additional conference space and archival storage rooms.