Historic section of downtown Canton destroyed in early morning fire

"Me and my two brothers grew up in that drug store," Fincher told the AJC Saturday morning. He had just returned from Church Street in  downtown Canton, where little remains inside the building where his grandfather opened a pharmacy more than 80 years ago.

"It looks like it's gone," said Fincher, whose family has operated a business at that location continuously since 1900.

Fincher lost not only memories but his art gallery as well in an overnight fire. The gallery, located in Canton's historic district, replaced the family pharmacy years ago. Taylor's Jewelry Store also appears to be a total loss, Fincher said, and damage was significant at the neighboring Canton Shoe Shop, one of  the town's oldest businesses.

The blaze was still smoldering Saturday morning, shutting down several streets in downtown Canton.  Officials don't know what caused the fire, which started around 2 a.m. Reinforcements were called in from several nearby counties, including Forsyth, Pickens, Cobb and Bartow counties along with the Johns Creek Fire Department.

Late Saturday afternoon, firefighters were still on the scene, extinguishing any remaining hot spots.

No one is believed to have been injured in the fire. "No one was supposed to be in the building that time of night," Fincher said.

He got the call a little after 1:30 a.m. Initially, it appeared the structure could be saved.

"It looked like they almost had it out but then all of the sudden the windows blew out in the front of the building," Fincher said. That burst of oxygen seemed to give the blaze new life, he said.

"I'm still in total shock," said Fincher, whose grandfather originally opened the pharmacy in a wooden building on the site 109 years ago. In the 1920s, the current mason structure was built.

Bill Cagle recalled the Fincher family giving him his start as a pharmacist.

"My dad worked there," said Cagle, owner of the Mid-City Pharmacy, located a few blocks away on Main Street. "Billy Moss at the Canton Shoe Shop has one of the oldest businesses downtown. Good people."

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