Vintage Nesbitt’s soda pop machine from Miller’s Bottling Works and the Canton Hotel

There’s a new display at the Canton Area Heritage Center with ties to two former family-owned Canton businesses.  It’s a bright orange Nesbitt’s soda pop machine that dates back to the early 1940’s.  Nesbitt’s was known nationally throughout the 20th century for making bottles of orange, grape, strawberry, and peach pop. Those wanting a cold drink would insert a dime in the coin slot of the machine, then slide the bottle to the left by holding its metal cap.  That allowed the bottle to be removed, opened, and enjoyed.  The machine dispensed many flavors of soda but the two “favored flavors” were Orange Nesbitt’s and Oh So Grape.

            The machine was first used at the Miller Bottling Works plant in the 100 block of White Court, now the location of the Ipava State Bank drive-up.  The plant was built in the early 1900’s and owned and operated by Frank S. Miller and his wife, Bessie.  The building was destroyed in the 1975 tornado.  The Millers also owned and operated the Canton Hotel on the northeast corner of East Elm Street and North First Avenue.  That building now houses the Bistro 101 restaurant.

            After being at the Miller Bottling Works for many years, the machine was moved to the Canton Hotel where it was a frequently used fixture in the lobby until the hotel closed in the mid-1980’s.

            Frank and Bessie Miller’s son, Chester, worked at the bottling plant and became the owner-operator of the Canton Hotel upon the death of his father in 1982.  Chester was also a licensed engineer who was one of the designers of Canton Lake which was built in the 1940’s as a project of the U.S. government Works Progress Administration…or W.P.A.  In addition he designed, worked at, and managed the Canton Waste Water Treatment Plant for many years until he retired.

            When the Canton Hotel closed, Chester gave the soda machine to his long time friend, Verne Liddle (pronounced:  LIE’ dull), of Canton.  Since then, Liddle has carefully stored it for more than 35-years.

            Liddle and his wife, Beverly, recently donated the soda machine to the Canton Area Heritage Center.

Heritage Center
111 S. Main St.
Canton, IL 61520

Fridays, 10:00am – Noon
Saturdays, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Sundays, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Admission is free but donations are welcome!