The "Heritage House and Old Canal Days Museum"

The City Hotel

map to Museum

These two buildings are located on the site of the former City Hotel1. Our Museum is made up of two smaller buildings located just about where the City Hotel stood The Hotel was a prominent stop along the Ohio & Erie Canal. Originally built in 1835 by Daniel Babst, this site would host 3 of our nation's Presidents (William Henry Harrison in 1840, John Quincy Adams in 1843 and James Garfield in 1850)2.

One commentator noted that for such a building to have hosted three Presidents a monument should have been erected in commemoration. Indeed, several townsfolk in the mid-1900's fancied that this historic site, situated at the entrance to the community park, would make for a fabulous museum. Unfortunately, not all dreams become a reality and in the 1950's the building was razed.

However, the notion of such a community museum residing on the property would not be forgotten, and before long it would become a reality.

The Heritage House

This is a sketch of the property of the Live and Let Live Saloon from a 1911 Sanborn Insurance map - highlighted is the building that would become our Heritage House; the building with the 'D' [indicating 'dwelling'] is the current CF Glassworks

Within the late 1800's, Canal Fulton could boast of more than a dozen saloons; but, by 1912 there were only three. One of these establishments was located immediately west of the Tuscarawas River along Market Street (between what is now the Canal Fulton Glassworks and the river). It was originally opened by Dan Sheldon who lived by the slogan he kept hanging on a sign in his front window - "Live and Let Live." The saloon would adopt and retain this name. However, within these early 1900's, local residents within the temperance movement were able to use a technicality to force the saloon to close (laws of the day only allowed for so many saloons per population)3. Ironically, its founding motto would not be able to save it and the 'Live and Let Live' would be forced to shut its doors.

So... why have we gone into this random story about a forgotten saloon? Well, aside from it being a great tid-bit of local history, the saloon was part of a complex of buildings on the property. One of these buildings would become our very own 'Heritage House.' During the days of the saloon, our building would be used variously as a dance hall, warehouse and even dwelling. Eventually, the property would come to be owned by Ralph Hardgrove and would be utilized in his coal business. While the saloon and other adjoining buildings had been torn down, Hardgrove wanted to contribute what he could to the preservation of his beloved town.

A view of the Heritage House in its current location

And so in 1968, the very year of our conception, Hardgrove deeded his little building to us. Already, the Heritage Society was feeling the generosity and civic pride of the Canal Fulton community! Not long after this, the The Old Canal Days Museum was along the back of Gainey's property facing Walnut Street decision was made to relocate the house to the entrance of the community park. By 1974, renovation was complete and the structure became the Society's headquarters where for years it would house our collections, displays and office.

The Old Canal Days Museum

When the Sesquicentennial celebration of 1964 rolled around, Clyde Gainey put on display his collection of Canal Fulton artifacts. Enthused and encouraged by the response he received during the event, Mr. Gainey fixed up the old storage building in his backyard and transformed it into a museum. Gainey would continue adding to his collection over the years, making his Old Canal Days Museum the "biggest little museum in the U.S.A4Old Canal Days Brochure." Never charging any admission and always glad to welcome guests, from the time he opened in 1966 to 1979 (when he deeded it to the Heritage Society), more than 50,000 visitors would be entertained and enlightened by this local treasure trove5.

This is a view of the two buildings side by side before addition of the adjoining hallway and porch

Clyde Gainey would continue to play an active part in preserving and promoting Canal Fulton's history6. However, a time came when even his energy and efforts would run-out. So, in 1979 he donated the building The Heritage Society dedicated a portion of the Museum to Clyde Gainey and much of his collection to the Heritage Society. The museum was then relocated and adjoined to the Heritage House.

The little building itself has played several roles throughout the town's history. Clyde and his family lived in the residence at 118 North Canal Street, which during the late canal era was the home of Dr. Hiram Dissinger. As any good country doctor of that era would do, Dissinger would frequently make house calls in and about the surrounding countryside7. As such, he kept a horse and carriage and the little two-story building at the back of his lot was the summer house for his carriage driver/handyman8. Through the years, the building was also used as a warehouse and a summer kitchen.

It is because of the efforts of Gainey and the many others like him that our community continues to have these wonderful connections to this history. Truly, preserving and promoting our heritage is a task that we all should take seriously. Because of Gainey's steadfast devotion, we can continue passing on our past to future generations. Even today, there are local residents who recall touring through Gainey's museum as a child and looking in awe at the wonderful lessons that our history has to offer*.

Clyde Gainey's Museum was jam-packed with displays and information view of Museum displays today

The Museum Today

These two buildings comprise the Heritage Society's Museum where visitors and residents alike can stop in to absorb some local history. On display are some interesting and unique pieces of Canal Fulton memorabilia and a number of photos depicting a variety of aspects of early Canal Fulton life. There is also an assortment of maps, photos and displays regarding life along the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Web Page Notes

1. Which was also known at various times as the Babst Tavern and the Walzer Exchange.

Burton Porter, Old Canal Days, (Columbus, Ohio: Heer Printing Co., 1942), 455.

2.

Porter, Old Canal Days, 455.

3. The 1975 Summer edition of The Canawler recounts the tale - how the 1910 Census should have closed 2 of the 3 saloons in town. An excerpt from a Massillon paper humorously relates how city officials went about trying to get enough names on the census rooster to keep at least two saloons open: "Now would you believe it, you must when I say that they robbed the coffin to carry the day."

Canal Fulton Heritage Society, The Canawler, 1975, Vol.8 No. 1, "Is Fulton Mayor Trying to Break 'Boodle-Made Law'?"

George Reuhling had bought Sheldon's property*A front view of the saloon and after being forced to close the saloon in 1912 Reuhling opened a restaurant. A year later, due to the destruction of the 1913 flood, Reuhling had to close the restaurant as well saying: "I was snowed out, voted out and flooded out of business."

CFHS, The Canawler, 1975, Vol.8 No. 1, "History of Heritage Society Headquarters"

4. (or at least that is how it was regarded by locals)

Old Canal Days Museum brochure created by Clyde Gainey, 1973.Old Canal Days brochure CHFS collections.

5.

"Gainey Deeds Canal Days Museum to Heritage Society,"Gainey deeds Museum to CFHS Canal Fulton Signal,1979.

6. Among the many things Gainey was involved in was the Rotary Club, on the Canal Board that managed the St. Helena II and was also one of the founding members of the Heritage Society.

Interview notes with Clyde Gainey January 19,1982. CFHS Collections.

7. For one such account checkout Russell Frey's book The History and Legends of Rogues' Hollow.

Russell Frey, The History and Legends of Rogues' Hollow 4th ed., (Siler City, NC: Pleasants Office Systems Inc., 1958), 12.

8. This was his wife's brother.

Streby, Nostalgia, 51.