red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?



Bully in the School Yard

Canton Elem

Canton Elem2

Did you know the old Canton Elementary on Academy Street and the Jones’ Textile Offices in downtown Canton, Georgia are on the National Register of Historic Places as being in the historic section of Canton? And did you know Dr. Frank Petruzielo, of superintendent fame, plans to demolish the school building and or the Jones Canton Textile building? He does. And very soon.

Because he needs a new office, you know. And a better place to park his car.

Canton and Cherokee County, do we have to allow another piece of our history to fall victim to the wrecking ball? I really don’t believe we do…or should. But….if some backbones, some green paper and a few history lovers don’t come together, within the next few months, we’re going to lose another piece of our history. Or as Ms. Joplin sang, we’ll lose Another Piece of My (our) Heart(s).

If we don’t act, Dr. Frank P will have his way with a building we love. He’ll replace it with another modern eyesore. Canton has too many of those already.

I’ve been told Dr. P has withdrawn all but bare-bones maintenance of the school building…allowing decline. To anyone watching from afar, it would appear his plan is for Canton Elementary to fall into such a state of disrepair, it will be non-salvageable. I’m sure by now the building is in terrible shape, it’s over 100 years old, after all. And when the county “remodeled” it in the mid 1970s, they didn’t bother with sustaining the integrity of the building or the original interior character. They replaced the windows, installed a drop ceiling, covered the hardwoods with cheap carpet and called it remodeled. What an insult to that beautiful, genteel Southern Lady.

I no longer live in Canton, but it will always be my hometown. My parents are still there, my cousins and their children and a spattering of aunts and uncles are still around town. They’ll be there until their last breath. Your family is probably very similar. Dr. P, most likely, will not. He’ll rip down a 100-year-old building, and for a couple of years, he’ll settle himself into a big comfy chair within that building…and then he’ll move on. Canton will be a faded memory to Dr. P. But we’ll remember him. Every time we drive downtown and see what is no longer there, we’ll remember. And we’ll say to our grandchildren what we’ve had to say to our children about other significant buildings around town: “There used to be the best old school building standing right over there. You should have seen the architecture, Neoclassical Style. Nothing else like it around here….”

We have given up so much of this cotton mill town. We gave things up without a fight. We let the hotel go, the magnificent Sequoyah Library where my love of reading began as a five-year old, the train depot (what other town destroys its depot?), the elegant homes on Marietta Street (replaced by a couple of architecturally unattractive brick boxes). We’ve lost enough.

The Historical Society doesn’t want to lose these buildings either. Below is a link to an article on their page. Surely we can come together and help them save a bit of history for the future citizens of Cherokee County.

Thank you,
Danita Clark Able

Canton Elem3

If you want to be a part of preserving the character of Downtown Canton. Please sign this petition created by the Cherokee County Historical Society.



Saving Canton

Canton DepotCanton34 Canton First MethodistCanton46

Canton31 Canton Elementary 1913

In March 2012, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution published an article by Bill Torpy and titled it, Trove of Artifacts in Canton tell story of Indians. The article was a great, educational piece. An education on a very interesting bit of Cherokee County history that we can only read about now…thanks, in part, to greed disguised as progress.

Reading Mr. Torpy’s story, I couldn’t help but feel a huge emptiness for what the former land owner destroyed and the loss he allowed the county of my birth, when he sold his land to developers. I didn’t need to ask why he sold this historical land. I knew the why…it had something to do with a few men: George, Thomas, Abraham, Alexander, Benjamin, Andrew, Ulysses, William, Grover, James, Woodrow and Salmon P. Chase (lots of Woodrow’s and Salmon P’s). So now, instead of a museum…a historical, educational, archaeological site…and a memorial to the Native Cherokee families forced off their land….Canton has a Super Wal-Mart. Yay.
I was born and educated in Canton, Georgia. As a young girl, I watched with a feeling of loss as old homes, historical buildings and important land was destroyed to make way for stores, gas stations and post offices. I watched as the architectural integrity of beautiful old buildings was assaulted for ‘modern improvements’. In high school, I tried to start a campaign to save the abandoned Canton Train Depot. I failed…Canton won…and the building was demolished. I believe the structure was replaced with a vacant lot.

When I was a Cherokee County teen in the 1970’s, I thought our town was a million light years away from the cosmopolitan life of Atlanta. And I guess it was. I realized our families needed more opportunities for employment than the cotton mills and poultry plants in town. I knew we needed alternative stores, restaurants, and a few more places for a teenager to have a summer job. But I also knew there was historical bedrock beneath our ball fields and corn fields…and in the clay along the banks of the Etowah; I wanted it preserved. Eh, but what did I know?

Cherokee County has surpassed all expectations for growth and progress. No longer can every high school student in the county boast about being a Cherokee Warrior, all on the same unified team. Present day high school kids have more opportunities for summer employment than we ever could have dreamed possible. But our slow-moving river and the beautiful green hills of Cherokee County are now obscured by big box stores and the gaudy colors of pre-fab fast food spots. These days, Cherokee Countians have the privilege of sitting in traffic on Riverstone Parkway and Highway 20. Just what we wanted. Oh, Progress, how we love thee.

I hope Cherokee County will outgrow the need to play ‘progress catch up’ and gain a sense of responsibility for preserving her history. Somehow, I doubt the change will occur anytime soon. Still, I hope. Yet, every now I then, I hear rumors of demolishing the old Canton Elementary and High School buildings on Academy Street. Many of us spent our elementary years in those red brick buildings. A few still living spent their high school years there as well. Losing those buildings would be a disservice to downtown Canton; a disgrace kin to the one we suffered when the old Canton Hotel was demolished and replaced with an ugly bank building.

That’s my pondering for the day,

Below is a portion of Mr. Torpy’s AJC article.

For 15 years, hordes of shoppers have streamed into the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Canton.

The hilltop along I-575 is a prime commercial location in Cherokee County, a fast-growing community with one foot in metro Atlanta and another in the North Georgia mountains.

What few customers know is they are walking on land that was a hub for Native American life for 10,000 years. At different times, the patch of high ground overlooking the Etowah River has been a village, a fort, a trading center and, finally, home to a cluster of Cherokee families desperately trying to co-exist with the white man.

During the summer of 1995, a large crew of archaeologists and their assistants unearthed a trove of artifacts that told a story of the land’s ancient inhabitants. The property, known as the Hickory Log Site, yielded 48 graves and thousands of artifacts that filled 120 boxes. The discovery offered one of the most detailed looks ever at the life of Native Americans in North Georgia.

Local officials hope to exhibit the findings — ranging from 10,000-year-old spear tips to a rifle used by the Cherokees — at The Funk Heritage Center at Reinhardt University.

“It’s a rare chance to educate people [about] what happened,” said Paul Webb, the archaeologist who headed the 1995 dig and returned to Cherokee County last week to finally speak about his findings and lay the groundwork for the artifacts to return home. “It’s one thing to know this is Cherokee County and another thing to have this tangible evidence of Native American and Cherokee life.

“It remains one of the major projects in North Georgia in size and scope and in what we found. Hickory Log has probably seen 10,000 years of occupation,” he said. “You have high ground overlooking Hickory Log Creek and the Etowah River. It had ample water, rich farmland below. It was a good place to live with access to transportation.”

In essence, what made for a good hub for Cherokee County’s Native Americans later

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