A stroll around downtown Canton feels like a walk through the past, courtesy of the restoration job Canton citizens have been orchestrating around town. Canton has made a concerted effort to preserve heritage architecture throughout the community including the centerpiece Van Zandt County courthouse, a 1937 edifice with cast stone veneer walls featuring Art Deco and Art Moderne details. Many of the buildings around the town square were built much earlier, however, enhancing over one hundred and fifty years of Canton history. Facades and interiors have been revitalized, housing a lively business community and earning Canton a Texas Main Street City status.
But don’t let Canton’s homage to its past suggest that the community maintains a quiet, peaceful 19th century disposition all the time. Each week before the first Monday of every month, hundreds of vendors set up shop in locations scattered throughout Canton and thousands of shoppers arrive to peruse their wares. Canton’s trade days began in the mid-1800s when district court meetings, scheduled on the first Monday of each month, attracted area citizens who carted their surplus to town and bartered for trade. Livestock, produce, and supplies changed hands and, over the years, expanded to a vast marketplace of goods including antiques and collectibles. Today, Canton’s Trade Days, known as First Monday, survives as perhaps the largest flea market in the country. Collectors, antique dealers, artists and crafts people buy and sell for four days among Canton’s historic landmarks, providing plenty of opportunities to turn one person’s trash into another person’s treasure.