Multicultural Center & Museum

Multicultural Center & Museum

The Canton Multicultural Center and Museum is a celebration of the diverse cultures and contributions of the citizens of Canton and Madison County to the history of the city, state, and nation.

The permanent exhibit focuses on the history, family life, business and community life of African Americans and recounts their struggle for civil rights.

The museum features an interactive video kiosk and large, eight-panel graphic displays spot- lighting Early Struggles, Agricultural, Business Success, School Days, Voting Victories, Freedom Triumphs, Community Spirit, and Family Ties.

A special exhibit features Sister Thea Bowman, nationally and internationally known evangelist, teacher, gospel singer, writer, lecturer and advocate for justice and peace. Sister Thea, a Francisan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, was the daughter of Dr. & Mrs. Theon Bowman of Canton and grew up in our community.

The Black Heritage Committee and the Canton Convention and Visitors Bureau are dedicated to featuring other cultural exhibits that focus on Canton and Madison County's diverse heritage and feel it is a duty and responsibility to showcase the history of all pioneering cultures along with celebrating the present.

To schedule a tour, please contact the Canton Welcome Center at 601-859-1307 or canton@cantontourism.com.

Canton Museum of History

Canton Museum of History

Canton Museum of History

 

Experience the history and artifacts of merchant stores and businesses that were a major part of our history and growth, and hear one of Canton's favorite storytellers, Jim Ritchie, along the way.  On display you'll see an antique butter churn, a bank teller's adding machine, a pharmacist's medicine counter, and even an old fashion coke machine cooler.

A visit to the museum will have the young laughing and the young at heart smiling of memories from childhood. Canton's Museum of History is forever evolving, as past businesses from the 1800's to today will be featured. Come back, because you never know whose past is on display.

For more information or to schedule a visit, contact the Canton Tourism Office at 601-859-1307

Historic Square

Historic Square

The Courthouse

The very center and glory of our town is the beautiful Greek Revival Courthouse. Members of the local Masonic Order laid the cornerstone to the Courthouse in July 1855. The Board of Police paid $26,428 for it, as well as $65 per month to a commissioner to supervise proper construction - a magnificent sum at that time. The brick used were salvaged from the old Courthouse that had been condemned in 1840 because of the deterioration of the mortar. The new Courthouse was the scene of a huge Fourth of July celebration in 1857, but was not legally accepted until 1858. The beautiful iron fence was added later at a cost of $5,250.

The large dome (twenty feet in diameter and thirty feet high) has twice been threatened with removal for security reasons. The first time was during original construction in 1856, and the second time was during remodeling in 1925. Both times the women of the town were successful in protecting it by insisting that "beauty prevail over reason."

The Courthouse has also served as a gathering place to welcome the railroad, send soldiers off to war, as a Court of Justice and the Seat of county offices, a polling place, an early library, a theater, and a hospital during the yellow fever epidemic.

The happenings within the Courthouse walls have reflected the humorous, chivalrous, hardheaded, hospitable personalities who have given the South its distinctive character. During reconstruction, there was so much ballot box stuffing and tensions that when Election Day threatened to become bloody, a group of officials dispersed a gathering crowd by climbing into the dome and shooting down rocks with sling shots.

The legal chambers within the Courthouse have witnessed many fiery trials, several of which resulted in duels between lawyers. When dueling had been outlawed in the state, Judge Calhoun and Judge Bowers, respecting the law, traveled together to Vicksburg and crossed the river into Louisiana to settle a court quarrel with pistols. Neither man was injured, it was simply a matter of honor.

In 1994-1995 a new Courthouse was built one block north of the Square and the beautiful old Courthouse underwent a $2,000,000 renovation. The 1855 cornerstone was opened and re-laid by the Masonic Order. The first floor is currently home to the Madison County Economic Development Authority, and the old courtroom, on the second floor, is currently not in use.

The Courthouse Square

In 1982, the Canton Courthouse Square District was officially entered into the National Register of Historic Places and declared one of three best examples in the State of Mississippi.

The Courthouse Square, still the focus of exciting activities, is the scene twice yearly of the nationally famous Canton Flea Market Arts & Crafts Show. The Market attracts up to 100,000 visitors annually from across the United States and beyond.

It is estimated that over $20,000,000 in public and private funding has been invested in the Canton Square District, including the new and old Courthouses.

In recent years, the beauty, uniqueness, and preservation efforts of our Courthouse Square and Historic District, with its beautiful homes, have attracted the attention of Hollywood. In addition to the five major films, many advertising agencies have chosen Canton as the location for commercial and corporate shoots, and PBS again chose the town for a segment of a six hour blues documentary on blues great Skip James to air in 2003.

With the site of the Nissan Automotive Plant located one mile south of the city, proposed plans for the Mississippi Film Complex, and the continued efforts toward preservation by the community, Canton's future is well-assured.

Canton History Brochure (pdf) 

Canton Movie Museums

Canton Movie Museums

You’re standing under the grand oaks encircling the courthouse square ... a sudden shotgun blast... the thunder of marching Klan... Jake Brigance, standing defiant in the ashes of his ruined home... images flash through your mind, and you’re right in the middle of it. You'd think you were standing on the back lot of a Hollywood film studio... but you’re in Canton, the film capital of Mississippi.

Long known as the City of Lights, Canton has now become the City of Lights, Camera, Action! as word spreads among such film greats as the Coen Brothers and Joel Schumacher about the wealth of scenic and cultural resources to be found along these historic streets.

Join us as we revisit scenes from some of the most memorable films of our time in the Canton Film Museums!

NOTE: Due to remodeling and renovation we are booking tours by appointment only, so please call ahead to schedule your tour. 601-859-1307.

A Time to Kill
A Time to Kill (Warner Bros./Regency Enterprises/A Joel Schumacher Film) was filmed entirely on location in Canton, Mississippi. Scenes from this emotionally charged film, based on the novel by John Grisham, are frozen in time in the Canton Film Museums. From the coffee shop where a spark first ignites between Jake and Roark, to the law firm offices, to the courthouse square—scene of the frenzied Klan march, you’ll see and hear about the behind-the-scenes planning and production of this crime drama thriller. Guided tours illustrate how an entire town contributed through architecture, commerce, personnel, equipment, and other resources to the making of this and other box office hits.

My Dog Skip
The streets and fields of Canton are the backdrop for this comical and heartfelt coming of age story based on award winning author Willie Morris’ childhood memoirs. My Dog Skip (Alcon Entertainment/Warner Bros.) was filmed in Canton during the summer of 1998. Set pieces from the film, including Willie’s birthday party scene and the actual Witch's Crypt, among others, are on display. Also included in the display is a collection of photos and articles by and about the Mississippi native who authored this touching story. Immortalized in this collection of film memorabilia, Willie Morris and the joys of growing up in the Deep South which he shared so eloquently will continue to warm our hearts for many years to come.

And More!
From the 1930s permanent wave machine to the Ponder House sitting room, a stroll through the Canton Film Museums transports your imagination to the tiny town of Clay, Georgia, the setting of legendary Pulitzer prize winning author Eudora Welty’s The Ponder Heart (PBS Masterpiece Theatre).

O Brother, Where Art Thou (Coen Brothers), The Rising Place, and many other films, documentaries, and commercials have been filmed on location in Canton. Kill some time with us and learn how the town’s special ambiance and sense of place have drawn the interest of the film industry’s best directors as the on-location destination of choice.

Movie Museum tickets can be purchased at the Canton Welcome Center on the west side of the Square.

You can purchase your ticket and receive your personal tour guide for the movie museums at the Canton Welcome Center . The Canton Welcome Center is open Monday–Friday 10 AM–5 PM and Saturday 8 AM–12 PM. 

Museum prices are as follows:
 

Both Movie Museums
$5 Per Person

Multi-Cultural Museum
$5 Per Person

Canton's Museum of History                                                                                                                             $5 Per Person                                                                                                                                                                                                               

For more information, please call 601-859-1307 or 800-844-3369.

Mississippi Blues Trail

Mississippi Blues Trail

When in Canton, visit our two contributions to the Mississippi Blues Trail.


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HICKORY STREET

Hickory Street, known locally as "The Hollow," was a hub of social life, commerce, and entertainment for the African American community of central Mississippi for several decades, up through the 1970s. Canton's most famous blues musician, Elmore James, performed often in the local cafes and clubs. James also learned the electronics trade by working at Robert's Radio Repair on Hickory Street. His experiments with sound technology led him to develop a powerful and original electric blues style.

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CLUB DESIRE

Club Desire – or New Club Desire, as it was actually named for most its tenure – was a Canton landmark for several decades, renowned for providing the African American community with first-class entertainment in a celebratory but elegant atmosphere, with strict codes enforced for dress and behavior. The club was one of Mississippi's premier blues and rhythm & blues nightclubs from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. Owner Clarence Chinn presented the top national acts, including B. B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Little Junior Parker, James Brown, Ivory Joe Hunter, Big Joe Turner, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, and the Platters. In the '60s the club also served as an important meeting place for civil rights workers.


For complete information on the Blues Trail, visit Mississippi Blues Trail