A special private preview of the new Canton Area Heritage Center was held Thursday to showcase the work done at the center and to give a glimpse of the many artifacts and pieces of Canton history on display there.

A special private preview of the new Canton Area Heritage Center was held Thursday to showcase the work done at the center and to give a glimpse of the many artifacts and pieces of Canton history on display there.


The center, 111 South Main Street, Canton, opened to the public Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Joe Stone of the Heritage Center board, who was introduced by Cheryl Bielema, welcomed guests and reminisced about the various buildings which had existed in the area around the center but are no longer around.


He noted planning for the center began in 2014 and progress was slow. He cited the support of Canton Main Street for helping plans the center grow and the generosity of Graham Hospital, which donated the site currently housing the center.


While he was hesitant to single out individuals for fear of missing someone, he personally thanked all the board members, donors who contributed artifacts for the center and business people who furnished support. He also cited Kelvin Sampson for his work in preparing the site.


Stone then turned the ceremony back to Bielema, saying the community was fortunate to have her.


Bielema pointed out the people wearing purple ribbons, which stood for “valor” she explained, who had were members of the center’s executive board. She said the center was still looking for more donations, hopefully making it necessary for the center to find a bigger space. She particularly noted the medical display, which she said Michelle Quinones had gotten together in one week.


Jim Morgan then listed the major contributors to the center and thanked them for their support — Canton Main Street, Graham Hospital, Graham Hospital School of Nursing, Dr. James Farlik, Jack and Mary Pollitt and Joe and Janet Stone.


Morgan concluded the ceremony reciting a poem, “True Collectors,” which was written by a collector of dog tags explaining the true motives of those who collected objects for the purpose of keeping alive and sharing things that were important.


Refreshments were served to visitors as they looked around the displays.


Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Canton Area Heritage Center may pick up a membership form at the center. Memberships are $15 for students through high school and seniors 65 and older, $20 for individuals, $35 for families, $50 for community organizations and $100 for businesses and commercial enterprises. Checks made to Canton Area Heritage Center may be sent to 200 East Chestnut, Suite 2, Canton, IL 61520. For more information, call 647-2242 or go to cahcpo19@att.net