Save one or lose two

Canton citizens working together to rescue one of the last historic buildings in the downtown area.

The Canton Historical Society had been housed in the former Universalist Church since 1975. The church building had major structural issues when it was gifted to the Society, and funds were lacking to address the problems. The members had long been trying to come up with a solution.

The Canton Historical Society had been housed in the former Universalist Church since 1975. The church building had major structural issues when it was gifted to the Society, and funds were lacking to address the problems. The members had long been trying to come up with a solution.

In May 2017, it was learned that the former historic Grange/Masonic building next door had been sold and was due to be demolished in order to expand the Big Apple convenience store. The demolition was scheduled to take place by fall of 2017 - short notice!!

In May 2017, it was learned that the former historic Grange/Masonic building next door had been sold and was due to be demolished in order to expand the Big Apple convenience store. The demolition was scheduled to take place by fall of 2017 - short notice!!

The location of the buildings and the Big Apple convenience store.

The location of the buildings and the Big Apple convenience store.

The CHS collections needed a secure storage and exhibit space so that citizens, researchers, and genealogists could have access to the historic material, and so the collections could be preserved for future generations.

The CHS collections needed a secure storage and exhibit space so that citizens, researchers, and genealogists could have access to the historic material, and so the collections could be preserved for future generations.

The condition of the church building was beyond repair. The CHS members agreed to investigate the possibility of acquiring the Grange building and moving it onto the Society's property. Canton has long been in need of a building that could be used as a community gathering place, and the Historical Society recognized that this was an opportunity that could not be missed!

The condition of the church building was beyond repair. The CHS members agreed to investigate the possibility of acquiring the Grange building and moving it onto the Society's property. Canton has long been in need of a building that could be used as a community gathering place, and the Historical Society recognized that this was an opportunity that could not be missed!

ACTION! In a very short time, the CHS had accepted the CN Brown Company's offer to gift the building to the Canton Historical Society, as long as it was moved onto the CHS property by fall 2017. The CN Brown Company also generously donated $5,000 toward the cost of the building move. Volunteers started the process of packing the CHS collections for storage. Within 3 months, the CHS membership had grown from 7 to 42 members!

ACTION! In a very short time, the CHS had accepted the CN Brown Company's offer to gift the building to the Canton Historical Society, as long as it was moved onto the CHS property by fall 2017. The CN Brown Company also generously donated $5,000 toward the cost of the building move. Volunteers started the process of packing the CHS collections for storage. Within 3 months, the CHS membership had grown from 7 to 42 members!

The town came together to help. Volunteers did the heavy lifting.

The town came together to help. Volunteers did the heavy lifting.

All hands on deck!

All hands on deck!

Nothing is impossible . . .

Nothing is impossible . . .

Much of the furniture and church-related artifacts in the church were salvaged, including 2 pews, which will form a memorial to the lost church building in the new Historical Society.

Much of the furniture and church-related artifacts in the church were salvaged, including 2 pews, which will form a memorial to the lost church building in the new Historical Society.

All the chairs were saved and will be used in the new building.

All the chairs were saved and will be used in the new building.

Collections items were packed with care.

Collections items were packed with care.

Citizens brought trucks and trailers.

Citizens brought trucks and trailers.

Friends and family chipped in on packing the collections.

Friends and family chipped in on packing the collections.

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One of the original stained glass windows was discovered behind a boarded up window frame.

One of the original stained glass windows was discovered behind a boarded up window frame.

 
In a matter of a few days, the church building was prepared for demolition to prepare the way for the move of the Grange building. The church records and collections were preserved, and exhibits in the new CHS will commemorate the history of the church.

In a matter of a few days, the church building was prepared for demolition to prepare the way for the move of the Grange building. The church records and collections were preserved, and exhibits in the new CHS will commemorate the history of the church.

Many treasures were carefully packed for storage, including this 1891-1892 hotel register from the Revere Hotel and a 1838 "Day Book" record volume from DeShon's General Store

Many treasures were carefully packed for storage, including this 1891-1892 hotel register from the Revere Hotel and a 1838 "Day Book" record volume from DeShon's General Store

Preparing for the Move

 
Moving the bell and grindstones before demolition starts.

Moving the bell and grindstones before demolition starts.

With sadness, but with hope for the future, we watched the demolition of the church building.

With sadness, but with hope for the future, we watched the demolition of the church building.

One piece of history is lost - but by doing do, we save another piece of history that will serve the community well for years to come.

One piece of history is lost - but by doing do, we save another piece of history that will serve the community well for years to come.

The building is down.

The building is down.

Time to clean up the debris.

Time to clean up the debris.

New beginnings with foundation footers.

New beginnings with foundation footers.

Ready to pour the foundation.

Ready to pour the foundation.

Work begins on preparing the new foundation.

Work begins on preparing the new foundation.

Four foot frost foundation

Four foot frost foundation

Rene Ouellette preparing the new foundation for the building's move.

Rene Ouellette preparing the new foundation for the building's move.

The move begins.

The move begins.

Jacking up the building

Jacking up the building

Lots of under-the-building work.

Lots of under-the-building work.

It's moving . . .

It's moving . . .

Inch by inch

Inch by inch

Closer . . .

On the foundation. Home!

On the foundation. Home!


ONWARD!

The process of spiffing up the beautiful new Canton Historical Society home began!

A good thorough cleaning was in order to make the wood shine.

A good thorough cleaning was in order to make the wood shine.

Fluorescent lights were replaced and an upgrade of the electrical upstairs completed.

Fluorescent lights were replaced and an upgrade of the electrical upstairs completed.

Cleaning up ~ THANK YOU Canton Volunteer Fire Department for allowing us to store items.

Cleaning up ~ THANK YOU Canton Volunteer Fire Department for allowing us to store items.

The old wood boiler was replaced with an efficient heating system, zoned for the 1st and 2nd floors.

Getting energized. Thank you Central Maine Power!

Getting energized. Thank you Central Maine Power!

Some of the collection moving back in...

Some of the collection moving back in...

Blowing insulation into walls and attic.

Blowing insulation into walls and attic.

Windows have been replaced with energy efficient windows.

Windows have been replaced with energy efficient windows.

The upper shutters have been cleaned and re-installed.

The downstairs has now become secure housing for the Historical Society's collections with rotating exhibits, a research area, and a gift shop.

The downstairs has now become secure housing for the Historical Society's collections with rotating exhibits, a research area, and a gift shop.

Artifacts and furniture will be cleaned, and paper and photograph collections will be inventoried.


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Brass plates have been installed for the donations of replacement windows in honor of family members and loved ones, who are now part of the history of the building.

Brass plates have been installed for the donations of replacement windows in honor of family members and loved ones, who are now part of the history of the building.

Onward!

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Newly painted exterior, thanks to a grant from the Davis Family Foundation. New heating system. New AV system thanks to a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. New handicap accessible rest room on the 2nd floor, thanks to private donations and proceeds from the 2019 winter Cornhole Tournaments, facilitated by Andy and Amanda Conant. Thank you, everyone!

Newly painted exterior, thanks to a grant from the Davis Family Foundation. New heating system. New AV system thanks to a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. New handicap accessible rest room on the 2nd floor, thanks to private donations and proceeds from the 2019 winter Cornhole Tournaments, facilitated by Andy and Amanda Conant. Thank you, everyone!

 
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Join us!
We welcome your skills and talents, your knowledge of the history of the town,
or just your enthusiasm.