Saturday, September 29, 2007

Oddfellow's Hall

Canton Center Circa 1914
I always thought of the blog name as "A Postcard from Canton" as a place that was more in the spirit of the history of the town as opposed to a blog about actual "postcards". Finally, this week I share a bona fide postcard, and from the large collection that I have, this is among my most favorite images. In celebration of the annual Block Party and with a nod to the Downtown Streetscape Project, here is a look back at a small slice of the downtown at the turn of the century.

The scene is quite beautiful, looking South from just below the intersection of Washington & Bolivar Streets - be sure to click on the image to enlarge as there are just so many wonderful details. For instance, in the front passenger seat of the car is a large dog peering over the dash, and the driver is on the left hand side of this gracious motor car.

The large building on the corner with the tower is Oddfellow's Hall - a grand fraternal meeting place where, in fact, my grandmother was married in the early 1930's. Built around 1856, for many years this Gothic building was the center of political and civic life in Canton. This stunning building was destroyed by and enormous fire on September 18, 1942. But for the heavy rains that morning, many more building would have been consumed. Known by many as Brooks' Block, it housed Moulton's Drug Store, the Post Office, and also was the Police Department offices. The upper floors held the telephone company office and large meeting spaces where the Ladies Auxiliary and the Ancient Order of Hibernians would meet regularly.

Directly across the street with the hip roof is Flood's Block, which is still standing. Richard Lewis Formal Wear is the current occupant, but in 1900 the Post Office was relocated from across the street to more spacious accommodations here. And in the immediate left of the frame, is a great old building that once held Whitty's Haberdashery and an amazing clockmaker, today it houses several businesses and the upper floors are apartments.

At most only two or three building still remain in the center as they appear in this photograph. Such was the nature of the time, the photographer set his tripod in the center of the street and froze a moment in time where children and dogs stand still, a woman is caught mid stroll, and the magic of the moment is almost the dreamlike sepia of the shot. Is this mere idyllic wanderlust on my part, but the trees and the quite sleepy center hints at a bustling future where the motor car would forever alter the landscape of downtown Canton.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi George,
Great looking postcard. I wonder where the telephone poles and trolley tracks are and how they managed to make it look like Flood's Block and the Plymouth Block are so close together.

Geo. said...

It is a very cool view, as for the telephone poles, I wonder what year they began to run them through the downtown. The BH Street Railway ran from approximately 1899 - 1920, and perhaps the tracks were gone by the time this image was taken.

Anonymous said...

....I love the postcard today and I do see the little dog. I would like to imagine that lady is one of the Community Club of Canton's founding members...since the club had just been formed (Oct. 1912) and she had probably just shopped for "tea" to bring to the meeting......Oh what an imagination I have....this computer can be very addictive---especially when I get such great stuff from you. Thanks....