Arts center hosts first celebration for first lady
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 00:10
The Oxford community will soon celebrate its first “Caroline Scott Harrison Day.” Harrison was born and raised in Oxford before becoming a first lady of the United States.
The event will include an open house from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Oxford Community Arts Center (OCAC) Oct 20.
At the city council meeting Tuesday night, Vice Mayor Kenneth Bogard read a proclamation detailing the life and importance of Harrison in the Oxford community.
According to the document, Caroline Scott was born in Oxford Oct.1, 1832. She grew up to be a talented musician and artist who also valued education. In 1852, she graduated from the Oxford Female Institute.
Caroline met her husband, 23rd president of the United States Benjamin Harrison, in Oxford while he was studying at Miami University. He graduated in 1852, and the two got married in Oxford Oct. 20, 1853.
During her time as first lady, Harrison was the first to decorate a Christmas tree inside the White House. She also was responsible the installation of electricity in the White House, according to Bogard.
However, Harrison is most noted for her contributions in advancing the education of women. In 1890, she helped to raise funds for the Johns Hopkins Medical School on the condition that women be admitted equally as men.
Oxford residents, Kathleen Fox and Marjorie Bowers, spoke at city council about their involvement in planning this day of celebration.
Fox has received a $3,000 grant from the State of Ohio and hopes to use it toward a marker in front of the OCAC to permanently memorialize Harrison. She said, by May of next year, she hopes there will be a bronze statue of Harrison as a young woman.
“Oxford didn’t know her so much as a first lady as when she was a young girl growing up here in town,” Fox said in regards to the plan for the statue.
By establishing this monument to Scott Harrison, Fox wants to draw attention to Oxford.
She said hopefully Oxford will become a place that people want to visit.
“When they travel to the eight presidential sites in Ohio, this can become one of them,” Fox said.
Bowers said she agrees and hopes more people visit Oxford.
“Many people don’t realize that a first lady was born in Oxford,” Bowers said.
Bowers has been writing a book about Harrison, and hopes to have it published in time to pass out copies at the event. She also plans to send a copy to each of the living first ladies of the United States, so they too can appreciate the influence of Scott Harrison.
Bogard said in proclaiming Oct. 20 as “Caroline Scott Harrison Day,” he urges all citizens to celebrate her role here in Oxford and as first lady.
Miami students are also encouraged to attend and show their appreciation. Miami sophomore Megan Brugnoli said while she didn’t know a first lady grew up in Oxford, she thinks the event is a great idea.
“I think that’s awesome we are celebrating her here in Oxford, especially hearing that she played an important role in the education of women,” Brugnoli said. “Without her efforts, I might not be here [at Miami] in Oxford now.”
Organizers of the event hope to make it an annual celebration.
“We want to do this every year, but we have to ask for it again every year,” Bowers said.