Gallery provides overview of community’s heritage

Gallery provides overview of community’s heritage

New second-floor local history gallery is located at the Massillon Museum.


The new Massillon History Gallery at the Massillon Museum now provides an overview of the community’s heritage, starting with the original 1826 plat of the town.

The space is delineated by colorful banners bearing action words defining Massillon’s past: move, play, learn, work, make, build, serve, pioneer and lead. A bright red and yellow “Massillon” sign from the Pennsylvania Railroad station greets guests as they exit the elevator on the second floor.

The largest object in the gallery is the 1908 Massillon-manufactured Jewel automobile, staged in front of a mural-sized photograph of Main Street (now Lincoln Way East) from approximately the same era. An image of 1930s Fidelity buses in the center of town depicts mass transportation in the town when few people still had private autos.

The flannel New York Yankees jersey that Massillonian Tommy Henrich wore during games on the road in 1951 and a photograph of Johnny Bob Dixon, a pitching standout in the Negro League, represent Massillon men who starred on 20th-century diamonds. The helmet Charles Jones wore when he won the 1936 Soap Box Derby shares the same case.

Among the early artifacts in the exhibit is an 1851 daguerreotype of school superintendent Thomas Harvey and the staff of the three-year-old Massillon Union School. Massillon’s Abel Fletcher, a pioneer in the fledgling art of photography, made the image.

A turtle shell bearing the words “turtle soup,” the iconic image of Freig’s, accompanies a 1910 postcard of the owners in front of the restaurant. Another photograph shows typesetters working at their Linotype machines for The Evening Independent in 1969. A Ferdinand A. Brader drawing of the Rogers farm in Jackson Township illustrates agriculture in the late 1800s.

Massillon’s industrial past is remembered with glass canes blown in local factories at the end of the 19th century, a 1903 iron bridge adornment from the Massillon Bridge Company, an 1890s Hess-Snyder cast iron heating stove and a Dripolator manufactured at the Enterprise Aluminum Company.

Visitors can see Police Chief Edward Ertle’s hat and Fire Chief Burkle’s badge from the early 1900s. A photograph shows mail carriers hefting their bags out of the front door of the post office in 1918.

Massillon women are recalled as pioneers with a “Votes for Women” sash and photographs of suffrage leaders Victoria Claflin Woodhull and Caroline McCullough Everhard.

"By converting the former administrative offices into new galleries for the history collections, we gained another 1,900 square feet of exhibition space,” MassMu executive director Alexandra Nicholis Coon said. "With the addition of the new Paul Brown Museum and Studio M gallery to the existing gallery spaces, more than 8,500 square feet are now devoted to exhibitions on the second floor. We could not be more proud to showcase the diverse holdings of our collections now that construction is complete."

MassMu archivist Mandy Altimus Stahl said, "With the museum’s expansion, we now have much more gallery space to tell Massillon's story. For the inaugural local history exhibit, we represented the city’s diverse heritage with highlights from the permanent collection of more than 100,000 artifacts. Each section of the exhibit can be changed over time to create fresh experiences for returning visitors.”

Visitors also can see the Albert E. Hise Fine and Decorative Arts Gallery, a new and expanded photography gallery; "36days" by Paul Flippen in the Fred F. Silk Community Room Gallery; "Paul Brown’s Pro Teams: A History of the Browns and the Bengals," "Massillon’s Gridirons," and the "Paul Brown and Massillon Tiger History Timeline" in the Paul Brown Museum; the "Immel Circus;" and "Cut Up/Cut Out," sponsored by Greif Paper Mill, Massillon, in the Aultman Health Foundation Gallery.

The Massillon Museum has prepared carefully for safe visits to the building. Visitors are strongly encouraged to wear masks and distance themselves from others. Precautions and guidelines are posted on the museum’s website for guests to review before they visit. Signage and sanitizing stations are located throughout the building.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark and marketing support from Visit Canton.

Regular museum hours will resume on Friday, June 26 Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2-5 p.m.

MassMu is located at 121 Lincoln Way E. in downtown Massillon. A visit is always free. Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots. For more information call 330-833-4061 or visit

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