During my internship here at the Ramsayer Research Library I have been involved in the reorganization of the Stark County photograph files. This has been a bit time consuming, but a very interesting project for me! Hailing from Canton myself, it has been rather neat seeing how much Canton has changed, learning more about my hometown, and making connection between Canton’s past and the way I remember it growing up here.

Currently, I have been working on reorganizing all of the photograph files of many of the different schools that have been or currently are in the Canton area.

Recently, I came across a particularly interesting mystery. I found the library had two separate files labeled “Plum Street School” and “McKinley Avenue School” but low and behold, when looking at the building in these pictures, they appeared to be one and the same! What??


S. Plum Street School ~1887



McKinley Ave School, 1st grade April 21, 1897

After some research for a previous mystery related to the Garfield Avenue School, I came across an article on The Canton Repository site citing “A Collection of School Histories: Canton Public Schools” by Gordon G. Humbert as a source of information. So, of course I had to hunt this source down to see what else it had to offer. Fortunately, I did not have to look far as I soon discovered the book is posted in its entirety on the Canton City School District’s website: A Collection of School Histories

In former Superintendent Humbert’s collection I finally found some information on this mysterious South Plum Street School. As it turns out, South Plum Street, McKinley Avenue, and Wells School are in fact all the same building. In 1875, the Plum Street School was built and named after the street it faced. In 1875, it was a four classroom building, by 1896 eight additional rooms were added. During the “McKinley era” Plum Street was renamed McKinley Avenue and consequently the school was renamed as well. From what I can gather, this change happened some time in the 1890’s.
In 1918, when McKinley High School was built on Market North across from the McKinley home, McKinley Avenue School was once again renamed, this time to Bezaleel Wells School after the founder of Canton.

– Lisa Bailey, Intern