CANTON — The new base for the Canton Historical Society was officially opened Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a speech by state Sen. Lisa Keim and a few happy tears.

A crowd of about 30 attended the ceremony, which celebrated a significant achievement by the society and its volunteers.

“The accomplishment that we stand before is monumental,” Keim said. “I think it’s a testament to the collective efforts of this community. There few places in the world in which a project could be tackled so quickly, and few causes as worthy as preserving our heritage.”

The base of the CHS used to be inside the Universalist Church at 25 Turner St., which CHS President Phyllis Ouelette said was in “horrible disrepair.” After making repair after repair, Ouelette said the society did not believe it could safely open the building to the public.

In May 2017, the society learned that the grange building, between the church and the Big Apple, had been purchased by C.N. Brown, and that it was planning to demolish it to make room for expansions. When the CHS approached C.N. Brown, it agreed to donate the grange building to them — if CHS would remove it from the property by fall.

Despite the tight deadline, numerous dedicated volunteers made it happen, and the grange building was moved to the location of the old church.

“We’ve added insulation and replaced the windows- each window was purchased by somebody in memory of a loved one,” Ouelette said. “We’ve upgraded the electrical and there’s new railings.”

To collect some revenue, a gift shop is nestled inside the old structure, built in 1897, and everything inside was created by local Canton artists.

Farther inside is a museum with historical artifacts and collections and a tribute to Bernard L. Adams, who served in the U.S. Army as an expert rifleman during World War II. Adams, now 102, attended the ceremony Saturday.

“This is amazing,” he said emotionally.

Upstairs is Hayford Hall, a wide expanse of hardwood and old beauty, which is available to rent for events.

Ouelette and her husband, Rene, were recognized for their extensive contributions to the project, and presented with a door knob mounted on a pew, both from the old Universalist Church, during the ceremony by CHS member Liz Rothrock.

The plaque reads, “Presented to Phyllis and Rene Ouelette, with thanks for opening the door to possibilities.”

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Bernard Adams, left, and Norris Conant, both of Canton, sit Saturday on the porch of the Canton Historical Society building during a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking its official opening. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)

Canton Historical Society Board President Phyllis Ouelette, left, grows teary Saturday after she and her husband, Rene, right, were presented the door knob of the old Universalist Church on a piece of a pew, also from the church, by CHS member Liz Rothrock during the CHS’s grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony.  (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)

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