Follow the purple arrows on the signs as you walk
Abel Fletcher came to Massillon in 1843, just four years after the invention of photography. Formerly a minister, he set up a photography studio on the top floor of the yellow brick building on the west side of South Erie Street. Mrs. Fletcher worked with her husband in the popular portrait gallery.
Abel Fletcher, sometimes known as the “Father of American Photography,” like all photographers of that era, mixed his own chemicals, experimenting with new combinations. In 1859, one of his concoctions exploded, blinding him. Dr. Abraham Metz, the “Father of American Eye Surgery,” also lived in Massillon, but he was unable to restore Fletcher’s vision.
From that time, Martha Mary Fletcher continued photographing portraits in the studio, making her one of the first women working in the field in this country. During the 1990s, several of her portraits from the Massillon Museum’s permanent collection traveled throughout the United States in an exhibition of early female photographers.
Directions: Turn left onto Diamond Court toward The Hideaway sign. Cross First Street and walk straight ahead, keeping Duncan Plaza on your right. Stop at the corner of the Massillon Museum to learn about Nell Dorr, whose family lived in the area that’s now the plaza.