One of the most important elements in Ridgewood which
would be preserved and appreciated through its designation as a Historic
District are some of Canton's few remaining brick streets.
The first paving bricks manufactured in Stark County were produced on the Belden
farm near Waco using a brick-making machine Henry S. Belden had seen
demonstrated at the 1876 Centennial Fair in Philadelphia. He proposed that
bricks be used to pave Canton's streets and proceeded to pave Cherry Avenue
between Tuscarawas and Second Street, S.W. as a demonstration project. He then
paved the Square on Market Avenue in front of the Courthouse. By 1891 Canton's
streets were generally paved in brick and by 1892 Canton had become the center
of the paving brick industry in the country.
In 1902 three major Canton companies were consolidated
into the Metropolitan Paving Brick Company, with the potential to manufacture
65,000,000 bricks annually. Metropolitan was the largest paving brick producer
in the country.
The streets and avenues of Ridgewood were
paved with Metropolitan pavers. The records of the Canton City Engineer show
that the city paved 25th Street in 1924. The rest of the streets were paved by
private contractors and there are no public records.
As time passed and Ridgewood's brick
streets began to require some maintenance, the City began to apply black-top
rather than repair the bricks. By the mid-1970's only 22nd Street, N.W., Logan
Avenue between 19th and 21st, and University Avenue retained their original
brick surfaces. When the City decided to black-top 22nd Street, the Ridgewood
Preservation Committee was formed. One of its first actions was to ask the Mayor
and the Service Directors to preserve the few remaining brick streets. As a
result of this request, in the spring of 1979 a crew was hired to be trained in
the maintenance of brick streets. Over the summer they repaired 22nd Street,
University Avenue and several other brick streets in the city. The crew has
become a permanent part of the Canton City Street Department.
Ridgewood's brick streets are a tangible link with a part of Canton's
industrial history and a permanent reminder of one of Canton's great success
stories. Eventually, we hope that all the brick surfaces will be restored.