December 2021 Spotlight

Fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Canton’s and the surrounding area’s history, culture, and industry.

Canton Main Street is happy to announce the Canton Area Heritage Center as the December spotlight of the month! The Heritage Center is located at 111 S. Main St in downtown Canton. Canton Main Street helped launch the project, a museum to memorialize the farm implement industry, local history and notable people, by hosting a feasibility meeting in the fall of 2014. Following a positive discussion involving 30 invited persons, a museum steering committee was named.

Since then, the group has adopted bylaws, received non-profit and 501(c)3 tax-deductible status, and opened their doors in the former Rushford Building across the street from the Graham Medical Clinic in Canton. The Canton Area Heritage Center’s mission is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Canton’s and the surrounding area’s history, culture, and industry.

“We’re a young organization working to preserve our nearly 200-year-old history,” said Phil Gregory, Chair of the Canton Area Heritage Executive Board, when asked to describe the museum. He and others formed the museum in 2015.

Acquisitions and Exhibits Housed at the Museum

Hundreds of artifacts from the community have been donated and loaned. Featured exhibits have been placed in cooperation with local and state organizations, Spoon River College, Graham Hospital, and the Illinois State Museum, to name a few.

Permanent exhibits at the museum include important Industries of the area, Parlin-Orendorff Plow Works; International Harvester; Mining Companies and Miners of Fulton County; Medical Pioneers, Graham Hospital and Graham School of Nursing. We’ve showcased Notable People, those entrepreneurs, musicians, athletes, politicians, and philanthropists who have made a difference in this community. We also display artifacts from Local Businesses of the Past.

The museum contains audio and video artifacts, too. One of our volunteers has created QR Codes, which add descriptions of people’s accomplishments and the significance of buildings or events. Early radio programs on WBYS, featuring Charlie Wright, and the 1975 television production of Almost Anything Goes,” are available to hear and view.

Listed below are the featured exhibits you can see now:

  • Businesses around the Square
  • Camp Ellis and World War II Headlines
  • Tribute to John Keets, Teen AIDS Activist
  • Miller’s Bottling Works and a Nesbitt’s Soda Cooler
  • A Very Merry Homemade Christmas

The Heritage Center contributes historical information via their Facebook page, /Heritage Center, and their webpage, www.cantonillinois.org/heritage-center.

Volunteer Opportunities

Like other organizations, the museum depends on volunteers to keep their doors open. Interested persons can help them in several ways.

  1. Join one of their working committees
  2. Staff the museum by working 2-3 hours, once or twice a month
  3. Become a member of the Heritage Center. You’ll receive quarterly newsletters and notices about special events. They want to stay in touch with you as they take on new projects.
The Canton Area Heritage Center’s Current Board of Directors

Philip Gregory (Chair), John Putman (Vice Chair), Cheryl Bielema (Secretary), Jim Morgan (Treasurer), Erika Davis, John Froehling, Dean Gibson, Roy Hopper, Mary Lou Kuchan, Jack Pollitt, Mary Pollitt, Harold Rose, Debbie Stephenson, and Mike Walters.

CAHC Museum
111 S. Main St.
Canton, IL 61520
(309) 647-2242

Fridays, 10 a.m. – 12 (noon)
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sundays, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.