McKinley’s fate could be put to a vote

The statue of William McKinley, freshly installed on the Arcata Plaza in 1906. Courtesy Historical Sites Society of Arcata

The statue of William McKinley, freshly installed on the Arcata Plaza in 1906. Courtesy Historical Sites Society of Arcata

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – A group that sprang from discussions of Community PRIDE Project participants is mounting an unprecedented effort to dismount the Plaza’s statue of William McKinley.

Under the name of “Transforming the Heart of Our Community,” the group held a community meeting Sunday afternoon at the Hotel Arcata that was attended by more than a dozen people.

Organizers plan a slow and systematic approach, beginning with a petition drive to qualify a ballot initiative so that Arcata voters can decide the matter. That will require gaining 1,200 valid signatures by Monday, May 2, 2016 so that a measure may appear on the November 2016 ballot.

In recent years, McKinley has been condemned as a cultural imperialist and worse – a glowering relic whose values are out of step with today’s Arcata. That once-marginal view appears to have gained some traction in the mainstream, though to what extent is not known.  Many still value the statue as a unique and historic artifact, and Arcata’s premier piece of public art.

Commissioned by Arcata pioneer George Zehndner and wrought by sculptor Haig Patigian, the statue was installed in 1906. In the 1990s, the statue’s marble steps were covered by a planter during an overall Plaza refurbishment.

Territoon McKAs to what would replace McKinley, the “Transform” group will work to forge a post-Bill vision. Ideas are abundant, and include a gazebo, bandshell, Native American murals, a redwood tree and more. It’s been suggested that McKinleyville might be a more suitable home for the 25th president, and some McKinleyvillers agree (see story, below). 

Costs are unclear, but would include removal and replacement of the weighty statue as well as creation of some kind of environmental impact document.

The McKinley remove-and-replace movement plans further meetings, which will be announced on its Facebook page.


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  1. Tom Sokolowski said:

    Great news! All of the replacement ideas for McKinley are terrific. This is a good start for the rejuvenation of our Plaza.
    I would like to see more trees and picnic benches, but one step at a time. Good for Arcata, and looking forward to signing the petition.

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  3. Gonopore8 said:

    It’s interesting history, 100 years old and part of the town’s flavor. Towns all over the place tear this type of stuff down with some misquided attempt at modernization and then regret it after 25- 50 years. View it as a work of art and not a homage. The taliban like to blow that stuff up. Don’t be the taliban.

  4. Erik Burman said:

    More and more and more reasons not to visit Arcata. Send the evil statue to McKinleyville. Now that we have Sushi spot there’s really no reason to visit Arcata at all. Give us the statue and maybe send a few more businesses our way and we’ll show some gratitude and respect. You can keep the vagrants and other plaza zombies there please.

  5. tiredoftweeks said:

    Why don’t we just put another stupid round about in it place. What a bunch of idiots.

  6. Cozy Powell III said:

    The progressive march continues, Rewrite and erase history. Of course they’ll put it to a vote. Should be an interesting propaganda effort. If you don’t vote to tear it down you are a racist hater too stupid to know what’s good for you! We love everybody (as long as you go along with the program). Banking on regular folks too busy working to care. Wait until they start on the crosses and the churches.Yay Arcata!

  7. Gonopore8 said:

    Replace with a chainsaw-carved redwood statue of a trustafarian?

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