December, 1996 Vol. I, No. 2, Issue 2
FLAG CITY FLAG MUSEUM:
GWAV member Robert McKee is a vexillologist who is not content with packing his flags away in a drawer. His dream for having enough space to display his more than 1,000 flag collection has resulted in the Flag City Flag Museum, a building of 1,620 square feet that he has constructed next to his home in Van Buren, Ohio, a suburb of Findley, self proclaimed "Flag City".
McKee began collecting flags at the age of five in 1956 when his parents took him to visit the United Nations Building in New York, where he acquired his first five flags. For years after that on his birthday, or at Christmas, he would receive 5 or 10 more to add to his collection. As a teenager he began to collect flags on his own, he would haunt flea markets, antique dealers, and any other likely venue in the pursuit of his interest. The collection grew, and for a time after his marriage, was stored in the family's attic, where the museum was first established. Before long, however, the attic space was too limited, and, about 1992, McKee decided on a bold move to build his own building adjacent to his house.
Currently McKee displays about 950 flags of his total collection: hanging from overhead, in flag stands, on shelves, and for the older or rarer flags, in glass cases. The collection contains a number of unique or unusual flags. One of McKee's favorites is a large 6 x 10' ostensibly American flag used by the 65th Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. The flag had been preserved by a family in McComb, Ohio, where McKee teaches history and social studies at the local high school. When the family learned of his interest in flags, they donated it to him. The flag is hand made, but has a number of interesting variations from the official design: it consists of 5 white and 4 red stripes, with 34 blue stars scattered randomly on a white canton. On a stripe above the canton, extending the length of the flag, is depicted a large eagle in black outline with a wide blue ribbon in its beak, and clutching 4 arrows. Two more stars, apparently added later, are immediately above the canton. At the top of the hoist is the date, 1862.
Other flags of interest include an 1896 McKinley-Hobart campaign flag defaced with their portrait, and a collection of flags from past World's Fairs. There are city, county, state, provincial, national, corporate, and organizational flags from around the world, from small 4 x 6" flags to the very large. McKee is the designer of the city flag of Findley, Ohio. (1980) See related article in issue 2. (JP)
© GWAV 1999