Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Canton -- Part II

This week I'm featuring Canton, Mississippi, and today's post highlights some of the colorful historic buildings around the Square, and also some of the old houses in the historic district. If you missed my post from yesterday and would like to read it, you can click here.

Be sure and check out my blogging friend Marty Kittrell's blog to see Canton from his perspective, too.

All of the buildings around Canton's Square are interesting, but I especially like the ones shown below (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them, if you'd like). You can see from the dates on some of them that they are quite old.

I love the windows and ornate architectural details on this building, and like the way it looks in the sepia tones below.

I love this whimsical little art gallery, and there's a lot of truth in its sign ... it did make me smile ...

The post office is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I love the age-worn patina of the hardware on the post office doors ...

Any time I visit a town with the idea of taking pictures, I like to get off the beaten path at some point and check out the backs and sides of the buildings along its main street. And I never fail to find something of interest ... to me, at least. For example, old faded signs advertising products or businesses that have faded away, too.

And vine-covered windows ...

And, even though the back of this building is not picturesque, it's as much, if not more, a part of the building's history as its pretty storefront side. Just look at all the "character" it has!

This building isn't very pretty either ...

... but upon closer inspection, I discovered that at sometime during its history, it must have been home to the local Sears Roebuck store (perhaps a catalog store?).

I'd like to share some pictures of just a few of the many beautiful old houses in the historic district of Canton. This first picture is of the 19th century Greet Revival Priestley House, which was built in 1852, as the home of Dr. James Priestley, one of Canton's early physicians and first postmaster.

This is one of my favorite houses in Canton. It is called the "Vanity Palace-Fields Home," and at Christmastime, the owner sets up a little carousel in the porch gazebo.

[If you would like to read a very interesting note I received from a lady who grew up in the Vanity Palace, please scroll down to the bottom of this post.]

Mosby House, ca 1852-1865

Wohlden House, ca 1828

How would you like to have a driveway like this one greet you every time you come home?

This beautiful little house is on the grounds of Wohlden House, and I would love to know its history.

One of the oldest houses in Canton is this primitive log cabin that was constructed between 1820 and 1830, according to experts at the State Archives Department of Mississippi. The Madison County Historical Society moved it to its present location (behind the old Madison County Jail), restored it in 1985, and furnished it with period artifacts.

The old Madison County Jail was built in 1870 and was in use for 99 years. It now houses the Historical Society.

For tomorrow: Churches and Cemetery

The following is a note I received from a lady who grew up in Vanity Palace, the grand old Victorian house featured above.

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your memories and the history of its restoration by your dad.

My father purchased this house for our family when I was 6 six years old. It was in terrible condition at the time and had been left empty for years.

He had to redo the foundation (b/c the house had fallen on one side). My dad had a vision and fell in love with this house. My mom was questionable and wondered what in the world he was thinking at the time.

My mom and dad worked on the house throughout the years. I remember my mom sewing the drapes for every window. The drapes were massive – tassels and all. The wooden floors were black. My dad sanded the floors and said if he ruined them then he would just replace them. Once he sanded the floors, the wooden pieces were remarkable. Each piece of wood around the border were delicately placed in patterns of different colors of wood. The floor was breath-taking as you can imagine how long this took someone to lay these patterns (I’m not sure if the fire that happened years later destroyed the floor?).

If you notice the small wooden pieces above the front stairs above the eaves ... my dad glued each piece back on the house (they were broken off and had fallen when we purchased the house). They are the original pieces. It is so funny because he glued them with Elmer’s glue and they are still there!

There was a beautiful urn that used to sit on a large concrete block in front of the gazebo and yes, he repaired the urn with Elmer’s also! I’m not sure what happened to the urn?

My parents replaced all the missing porch spindles with the legs of stools that originated from an old furniture factory – they didn't match but close enough he said. The house was a masterpiece when they finished and was open to the public during Christmas and through garden club tours. My sister had her wedding reception in this house during the 70’s and over 500 people attended --- I think their intention was to see the house ….

It was enjoyable growing up in our home. I lived there until I married and moved. We had large family events in our home during the holidays and entertained just about every weekend.

My parents sold the house to a couple and my parents retired out of town. The house burned while the couple owned it and the fire destroyed the original delicate Victorian staircase. The couple that purchased the burned house did a wonderful job of remodeling the house but I’m not sure if the front staircase was ever built back to its original showcase. I guess sometimes we have sentimental recollections by attaching ourselves to elements of the past. Good memories and the best childhood one could ever imagine in that old house.

Anyway, thanks for showcasing our beautiful home. I will always consider it my family’s home and “Vanity Castle-The Fields Home”. I don’t think it would have ever been cherished as much as it is today if my dad didn't have a vision to purchase this old, dilapidated, fallen home --- he had a vision that has continued to be treasured today by other families so they can create their own wonderful memories.


Marty Kittrell said...

Dang, Janie! I didn't even think of going around to the back of the buildings! Once again, you are doing an excellent job letting people know about the town and its people through your shots. You have captured the essence of the town so much better than I did. Thank you for that insight.

Deb said...

Janie, you really took some wonderful photos...I love all the old designs....you caught the beauty in building most people would just overlook...nice tour...

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Canton is such a pretty little town! You showed me some scences I don't think I've noticed before.

Wonderful pics!

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

I really enjoyed touring Canton with you, I visit quite often and never think to bring my camera, but will start taking it with me.
Canton is a beautiful old town.

Julie @ Sweet Chaos said...

Love the old homes. They're gorgeous! Strange how things don't seem genuinely "old" to me unless they were built before the 1860's. I guess that decade brought so much to "see" that the younger buildings seem younger. Thanks for sharing all these pictures & the info.


Tonja said...

Loved 'visiting' Canton again! Just delightful!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Janie, you did a marvelous job with these. Canton is an amazing little jewel box of a town.

The Mosby house was the home in which one the parent of one of my friends grew up. It belongs to a cousin of theirs now. It's stunning. As I recall, it as in the movie, "A Time to Kill."

Great job as usual.


Sheila :-)

Beautiful pear tree lane said...

Hi Janie,
Canton Miss. seems like such a beautiful place to live. I so love old towns, they have so much great history. I know you enjoyed photographing it. Those homes are absolutely unbelievable, and could they tell some stories. I am so glad that they have preserved them, it just breaks my heart when I go to old towns and see grandeur homes neglected. Thank you for sharing.
have a great week,