Canton was in dire need of a high school to relieve the congestion of the old Canton High School (Central High School) that was built in 1887.
Before McKinley was built there were two shifts at Canton High School, beginning at 7:30 in the morning and continuing until 4:45 P. M.
In 1912 the School Board undertook to purchase a site on North Market Ave. opposite the McKinley home, at a cost of $90,000, but an injunction was granted by the courts for about two years. It was then decided that the board would have to submit the proposition of issuing bonds for this purpose to the people. This was done. The issue carried by a large majority and the ground purchased in 1914.
After some delay an architect, George F. Hammond, of Cleveland, was selected to prepare plans and specifications. When these were finally ready it was found that there would not be sufficient funds to complete the building. It was decided to advertise for the construction of the front section and the right wing of the building, according to the plans of the architect. the contract was awarded to the R. H. Evans Company on November 24, 1915.
The ceremonies of laying the cornerstone were held on July 1, 1916.
With the completion of half the building came moving day. On March 27, 1918 the students from Central High and North High carried their books to McKinley High, and on the following day, March 28, McKinley was opened for regular classes, with an enrollment of 877.
The school was named for President William McKinley, and his sister Anna McKinley, who was a teacher in Canton for thirty years.
The contract for the remainder of the building, including the auditorium section and the left wing was built in 1920 and completed in 1921.
Open house was held from October 17 to 21, 1921 for the people of Canton to inspect their new school. Formal dedicatory exercises were held for the students on Friday afternoon, October 21, in the McKinley auditorium. There were 271,540 square feet of floor space, not including porticos, stairways and inclines to be tramped over by the feet of approximately 4,000 students.
McKinley High School on Market Ave. stood on a lot 246 feet by 510 feet long, worth $85,331. The cost of the building including construction, furniture, and equipment was $2,349,461.
(the above information provided by 'The History of McKinley High', a publication between the art and print shop departments of the senior class at McKinley in 1936. The senior class of 1936 furnished funds to make the publication of the book possible.)
Canton's growth meant building and operating more high schools following McKinley, Lehman opened, then Timken was built as a vocational high school with money donated by the Timken family and lastly Lincoln High School all co-existed until 1976 when the city's Board of Education consolidated the four schools into just two.
A new McKinley was built at the athletic complex at Fawcett Stadium in 1976 and Timken, which remains downtown and at the site of the original Central High School are still operating today. Superintendent Adrian Allison consolidated Timken and McKinley into one high school in 2015, the Timken building is now known as the McKinley downtown campus and McKinley High School's main campus sits next to the Memorial Field House and the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village.
The Bulldogs were known to wear the colors red and black since the days known as Central High School as football began for Canton as a high school sport in 1894. When McKinley opened at the Market Avenue location the mascot became officially 'Bulldogs'.
Competing in the late 1800's and early 1900's at the beginning of Canton's High School football history the professional football team The Canton Bulldogs competed against area pro teams that would eventually form the National Football League as it was founded in Canton in 1920 and Canton became home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Here is the McKinley High School football history, Through The Years...