Sunday, August 9, 2009

Looking North

Looking North

While writing the upcoming book that features early views and postcards from Canton, I came upon plenty of great material that just could not fit into the space provided. And so the blog is a perfect place to share these images and build upon some great material that would otherwise still be in obscure places. 

This is a glass plate negative that is in the collection of the Canton Historical Society. It is amazing to search the basement cabinets and find negatives that have not been seen in over 100 years. In this case, there was a dusty box, heavy with dirt and placed in a lead lined draw - the boxes contain the fruits of the Kanton Kamera Klub (KKK) and the photography is at times beautiful, poignant, and plain. The glass plates are fragile, quite old, and remarkable in their clarity and detail. Modern scanning equipment does away with the need for a darkroom and enlarger as well as chemicals and a printing process. The result is immediately gratifying and always with a sense of "wow".  

The photo was taken after 1897 and the photographer is standing just to the front of Memorial Hall on Washington Street looking north. The scene is wonderfully familiar because the Trinity Episcopal Church (now Schlossberg-Solomon) is a great focal point. This photo was taken the around the same year the church was built at a cost of $5000.00. There is a wonderful story about the bell that hung in this belfry. In 1906 the Revere & Sons Company began to dissolve the property on Revere Street. During the Civil War the Union Army would confiscate cannons, armaments, and bells to be shipped north and into the hands of the Revere Company in Canton to be melted down and recast into cannons for the war effort. A bell that had been cast in 1856 was confiscated during in New Orleans and shipped with other heavy scrap to Canton. The peal and ring of this bell was so beautiful that it was saved by the Revere Family (no stranger to bells) and used on the property. Edward H.R. Revere donated this bell to the Trinity Episcopal Church in 1906.  By 1969 the church had outgrown it's small building and a new home was established at the foot of the Blue Hill. The bell was moved to bell tower and continues to ring out as it has for more than 150 years in four locations. 

Another observation in this photograph is the Blue Hill Street Railway BHSR tracks that run through right side of the frame. The tracks actually help date the photo. The mystery is that clearly written on the paper sleeve that protects the glass plate is 1897 - but I do not think this is entirely accurate given that the BHSR was not chartered until 1899. There are a few other glass plate negatives that were taken at this same point and on the same day, so more research is in order. This is, however, a wonderful glimpse looking at Washington Street as an unpaved dirt road that hints at a future Canton.

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