Historic photographs provide a sense of what life was like when the camera clicked and we can often identify in those photographs a physical feature, such as that of a building, an old automobile, or an activity, which brings up memories of our own past.

The downtown area of Marshall has seen changes throughout its 180-year history and changes continue with the current rehabilitation and restoration of several historic buildings in the downtown area. Planning and designing necessary for these projects require an understanding in what the building looked like originally, and historic photographs are an important source of information to determine their earlier appearance.

These street scenes of downtown Marshall show building as they appeared during the last years of the 19th century into the first years of the 20th. Details that would be important to any renovation or restoration project such as windows, doors, architectural details, and signage indicating use are clearly visible.

Progress is reflected as the modes of transportation evolve from the horse and wagons to the horseless carriages and trolly cars, as electrical power poles appear, and streets are paved. These changes are often important aids in dating photographs as some of those developments are visible in the photographs.

As example, electricity came to downtown Marshall during the last years of the 19th century and the power poles are in most of these photographs. It appears that the paving of streets was a little later, perhaps about 1915 — the streets in the downtown area were dirt in most of the photos. The first trolly tracks were laid in 1909 – the tracks and the trolly cars can be seen in several of the photographs, and evidence of the tracks of the trolly can be seen today in the pattern of the bricks in the vicinity of the courthouse.

Enjoy taking this look back at our downtown area often with a bit of nostalgia but also with pride in how our city has changed and grown. Marshall’s Landmark Preservation Board will be presenting similar glimpses into Marshall’s history in the future.

The photographs used are from the Inez Hatley Hughes Research Center of the Harrison County Museum. The Center is in the one hundred block of East Crockett and is a major source for all those interested in the history of Marshall and Harrison County. It is open to the public on a limited basis Tuesday through Friday.

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