Historical Heritage

The Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography draws inspiration from a rich heritage of innovation and ideals in the arts, sciences and architecture.

Who Was Joseph Saxton?

Credited with revolutionary designs in locomotive engineering, weights and measures, and even the fountain pen, Joseph Saxton is true pioneer among American inventors. Not the least of his contributions to science, was the first extant daguerrotype made in the United States. Serving as a foundation for American photography, Saxton’s image of the Philadelphia Central High School was originally captured using a cigar box and glass lens, then developed with mercury heated in a spoon.

Although Saxton spent his life in Pennsylvania, the family is rooted in Canton, Ohio. Joseph’s brother, Jon, founded The Repository, Canton's first newspaper, and Ida Saxton married into the McKinley family. The Saxton house, not far from the Joseph Saxton Gallery, was later renovated and became the National First Ladies Museum.

A.H. Wilson BuildingThe A.H. Wilson Building

The Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography makes its home in the historic A.H. Wilson Building, in Canton’s Arts District. Built in 1909, the space was originally a Cadillac dealership that boasted the ability to house up to 300 cars. When it was built, the 13,000 square foot first floor was the largest, single free-span space between New York city and Chicago. After the owner died, the property was converted into a parking garage, remaining as such for more than 80 years.  Soon after,  Tim Belden had the vision to reinvent the garage into the incredible display space it is today.