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Photos take pedestrians on stroll through Canton’s history

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CANTON - Pedestrians strolling down Main Street can learn some local history just by pausing at some downtown storefront windows.

Last week Canton Historian Linda A. Casserly affixed about 20 enlarged reprints of old photographs to downtown buildings. Captions provide information about the yesteryear images.

She has been pleased at the response from building owners and the public.

“The businesses that don’t have them have started calling up asking for them,” Mrs. Casserly said. “They’re bringing back memories for a lot of people.”

Visitors to the post office will find a picture of the building under construction in 1936 during Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.

A stop at the municipal building, 60 Main St., displays the historic town hall that burned in 1962 and the iconic Harrington Hotel that was torn down in 1959.

A photograph of the old Canton Diner being moved by tractor trailer in 1978 is displayed in the entry of McDonald’s Restaurant.

The Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) center shows J.J. Newberry Inc., a popular five and dime store that was housed there for many years.

“People can see them at their own pace anytime they’re strolling down Main Street,” Mrs. Casserly said. “They can view them any time of day.”

A 1927 photograph in the A-1 Oriental kitchen, corner of Main and Hodskin Streets, shows the former Howe Bros. Hardware Store.

From her second-floor window in the municipal building, Mrs. Casserly can see first-hand that many people are taking the time to pause for a mini history lesson. The pictures were taken by two well-known Canton photographers, the late Benjamin Kipp, who captured local images between 1890 and 1930; and the late Dwight Church, who photographed Canton in the 1950s and 1960s.

Dennis Barr, a local photographer, has been working with Mrs. Casserly on restoring old photographs and improving some by using Photoshop. He’s printed about 300 images of Canton’s past and enlarged them into 13-inch by 17-inch reprints.

“A historian’s job is to bring the past back to life. Without Dennis, this would not be possible,” Mrs. Casserly said.

She plans to continue the project by hanging some of the images on side streets and rotating in winter scenes. She is open to suggestions from the public.

“It’s an ongoing project,” Mrs. Casserly said. “I’ll keep them up as long as the businesses want them.”

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