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Guest MikeInCanton

Canton: Then and Now

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I never took much interest in Canton despite having grown up in the area during the 1990s and early 00s (before moving away for college to study city planning, ironically). I guess I assumed the city was always a bit rough and not much to look at it.

Recently that idea was shattered when I stumbled upon an old photo of Canton. With my interest piqued I plunged into a search for as many images of the past as I could possible find. What I have discovered is, as I'm sure older posters here are well aware, it wasn't always that way.  In fact, it was, dare I say, pretty, or perhaps "gritty pretty". 

One could probably blame its current state on the planning ideas of the 1960s-80s, which were, seemingly, dead set on bulldozing history and charm and replacing them with parking lots and monstrosities of modern architecture - if you're picking up a vibe that I have issues with that era of city planning, your intution is correct. At any rate, my newfound interest in the history of the city's form has provided me quite a few images that I have compared with what exists today in the same spot or general area. Some places have even changed multiple times.

This is an ongoing pet project of mine, so I'll make updates as progress is made.  I'll throw in some bits of trivia about the building(s) if I have the knowledge.  And, of course, if you have your own info, tidbits, or 2 cents to throw in, please do!

Without further ado, the first 3 sets:
1. Tuscarawas Street and Market Avenue
FK1Bi0u.png
The photo at the top left was taken in 1927, and is the photo that sent me on this little adventure. Since the other two images are postcards, the representations are probably not entirely historically accurate. Nevertheless, they give one a sense of things.

2. West side of Market Square
sJ78FsM.png
The images here depict the late 1800s to sometime after 1905, prior to and after the renovation of the court house and before the construction of the “Chase building,” as it’s known today.

3. The Granger Building
vSDri3s.png
This building housed a department store at one time, I believe J.C. Penney.  I honestly don’t know what to say about this “renovation” other than whoever is responsible should be made to fix it immediately. 

Edited by MikeInCanton

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I love when new posters come in and start off with a fantastic first post.  Wonderful job!


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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I grew up in the area, (80s and 90s) but gravitated more toward Massillon, and points south of there, because that's where family lived.  We rarely visited Canton.

 

I had a very brief internship at a Canton-based architectural firm in the summer of 1998, though.  One of the projects they were investigating was, I believe, the Granger Building.  At the time, it looked mostly like your current photo, so I don't think they proceeded with the project.  But, I remember a conversation between the project architect and the principal that really annoyed me.  Part of the project involved putting new openings in that monolithic brick, and the project architect was excited to report that the original arches were still there, behind the brick.  But, the principal was adamant that the original arches should be ignored, and shouldn't be considered in a new design, because there was no historic preservation aspect to the job.

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The Hotel Series

1. The Barnett/ Milner/ Drake
Qs75f1X.png

The Barnett House was built sometime in the 1880s (top left) and renovated/updated into the Barnett Hotel in the 1890s (top right). It burned down in the 1960s.  Today, in its place is the SARTA regional bus terminal.

2. The Courtland/ St. Francis
lsBjxCM.png

Built in 1905, demolished in 1992 to make way for an underground parking lot and the small building currently occupied by Arcade Coneys. All that remains is the archway that held the main entrance. 

Some may remember the restaurant Mergus in the building located between the hotel and the office building (I believe it was originally a bank) with the mural.

3. The McKinley
vJjy6yB.png

This hotel opened in 1901, and eventually became senior housing before its demolition in the 1970s, supposedly due to a state of disrepair.  The modern McKinley Grand sits in its place.

4. The Northern/ Belden
rJkvPGJ.png

This one was known as the Northern for its first 14 years and the Belden from 1935. It was torn down, presumably to make room for downtown parking.  The little building on the left is in the area the hotel occupied.

The Loew’s Theatre block was torn down to make way for a senior residence tower (the grey building in the middle).

5. The Onesto
ZnIGDZE.png

Threw in a photo of what stood on this corner prior to the building of the Onesto (top left), likely taken shortly before demolition. 

Construction began on the hotel in August 1929 and it opened August 1930 (I’m amazed they could complete a luxury hotel of this size in one year).  Recently it was converted into apartments with a ball room on the bottom floor (presumably for weddings).

Edited by MikeInCanton

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I grew up in the area, (80s and 90s) but gravitated more toward Massillon, and points south of there, because that's where family lived.  We rarely visited Canton.

 

I had a very brief internship at a Canton-based architectural firm in the summer of 1998, though.  One of the projects they were investigating was, I believe, the Granger Building.  At the time, it looked mostly like your current photo, so I don't think they proceeded with the project.  But, I remember a conversation between the project architect and the principal that really annoyed me.  Part of the project involved putting new openings in that monolithic brick, and the project architect was excited to report that the original arches were still there, behind the brick.  But, the principal was adamant that the original arches should be ignored, and shouldn't be considered in a new design, because there was no historic preservation aspect to the job.

 

That is just crazy to me. I guess some people just don't care as much about this sort of thing. Still, it's pretty exciting to read the original arches are still intact in there (assuming it was the Granger Building). I hold a hope that someone will come along and bring it back to its original state.  I'd do it myself if I could, haha.

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Set 3

1. SW Corner of Market Ave N. and 6th St N.
NTFl7nY.jpg

I had this picture in my collection for a while before it dawned on me that it was the “Basil building” (for those unfamiliar with Canton, Basil is a local Asian fusion restaurant). It’s obviously in great shape today.  Nice to see.

2. SW Corner of Market Ave N. and 3rd St N.
eG4aCW2.jpg

This building is located on the same block as the Granger Building from the first set (seen on the left). 

I have to be honest: I really loathe this building. If it were to be torn down, I would shed tears of joy.  I’ll never understand how someone could conclude this was a proper replacement for what existed there before. And if it is somehow the same building…ugh.

3. NW Corner of Tuscarawas St E. and Cherry Ave
ZPG7ja7.png

After finding the old picture, I was really glad to see these buildings were still around. I think they have great potential.  Maybe one day someone will come around and turn back the clock.

4. NE Corner of Tuscarawas St E. and Cherry Ave
CMXuBMb.png

Right across the street from the previous building sits the “Landmark Tavern”.  This may be the oldest surviving building in the downtown area, supposedly built in the 1830s.  I believe was an inn at first, then a seminary sometime later.  I don’t believe anything has been in there for quite a while.

It looks like it’s undergoing a slow restoration process, but I have no confirmation on that.  It would be nice to see this piece of history up and going again.

Edited by MikeInCanton

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I actually don't mind the McCrory's/Canton Brewing/CVS Building. It is no landmark, but it is an okay filler building that completes the block--much preferable to a surface lot or another likely under utilization if it were gone.

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I actually don't mind the McCrory's/Canton Brewing/CVS Building. It is no landmark, but it is an okay filler building that completes the block--much preferable to a surface lot or another likely under utilization if it were gone.

 

I do understand the preference for having something there over an empty lot.  I would agree with you there. For me, it is the architecture of it.  It's a characterless, cold square block. And it's beige!  I prefer the McCrory's building a million times over. 

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Great post!  I grew up near Canton (Orrville) and went through there only occasionally.  I never thought much about Canton before, but it looks like a neat place to go explore sometime.

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East Side of Market Avenue
MFT3vID.jpg

The missing 7-story white and brick building was, I believe, the original Harter Bank. I have not been able to find out when or why it was torn down.

Canton Auditorium
zOmrJWd.jpg

The Canton Auditorium was built in 1901 with a capacity greater than 4,000, quite large for the time. It hosted many events ranging from high school sports to trade shows to band concerts.  It was eventually shut down in the 1940s due to fire hazards, and replaced in 1951 by the Canton Memorial Civic Center, which still stands today.

The Civic Center is a bit of an eyesore aesthetically, to me at least. A shame they didn't save or replicate the facade of the Auditorium. 

Given the CC is 65 years old and the city's efforts to improve downtown and the arts district, I wouldn't be surprised if its replaced relatively soon.  The only thing I could see getting in the way of that is the HOF Village's proposed convention center.

Pennsylvania Railroad Station, South Market Avenue
Y6puC04.jpg

I have not been able to track down much information about this rail station other than that it was torn down in the 1970s and replaced with an Amtrak station.  The Amtrak station is or was (I'm not sure if it's still operational) the little building in the middle in the bottom image.

Edited by MikeInCanton

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