Archives for April 2012

Walking Tour of West 21st Street Historic District

In celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, on Saturday, May 19, from 10 am-Noon, the Erie Center for Design and Preservation (ECDP) will conduct a walking tour of one of Erie’s great National Historic Districts.

Established in 1990, the West 21st Street National Historic District (which lies between Peach and Myrtle Streets) features more than 30 buildings of a wide range of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century architectural styles, including Romanesque, Italianate, and Colonial Revival.

Participants in the tour will have an opportunity to tour the interiors of several homes along the way. This area of Erie, part of the South Erie district known as Federal Hill in the early nineteenth century, once housed some of the city’s most prominent businessmen, including Heman Janes, co-founder of Standard Oil.

In this event, the ECDP will not only showcase one of Erie’s grandest historic districts, but also hopes to reinforce the importance of retaining the character and integrity of all urban neighborhoods in the city. A number of buildings in the West 21st Street neighborhood have either been demolished or are threatened, and those properties will be pointed out on the tour as well.

Chris Magoc, chair of the Mercyhurst University History Department and President of the ECDP, says that “the tour is intended to highlight the critical importance of good planning and citizen vigilance in preserving those features of both architecture and the urban landscape that makes all neighborhoods special.”

Participants in the tour will gather at 10 AM in the St. John’s Lutheran Church, 2216 Peach Street, where Rick Liebel, an ECDP Board member and resident of the district, will offer a brief talk on the history of the district before the tour begins. Because the tour will include home interiors, the number of participants will be limited to 15. No interior photography will be allowed, but participants are encouraged to bring cameras and to take exterior shots of the district.

Those who are interested in this free walking celebration of Erie’s historic urban landscape need to RSVP by calling 824-2075, emailing, or indicating their interest on the ECDP Facebook page.

This link offers an excellent historical overview of the district:

Updating the Inventory of Erie’s Historic properties

Steve Bukowski, a senior Public History major at Mercyhurst University, is nearing the end of a months-long project to update the city of Erie’s survey of historic properties. Steve has now photographed and recorded data on well over 400 properties, with more to come in the last few weeks of the project.

Executed in fulfillment of Bukowski’s required internship and senior project in public history, the effort also will include an extensive narrative of Erie history as it is reflected in the city’s extant built environment—essentially what Erie’s built landscape tells an observer about the city’s history.

Look for the completed inventory and the historical narrative sometime by the middle of May—in time to help the Erie Center for Design and Preservation celebrate National Historic Preservation Month.

In the meantime, here is a link to a 3-minute video on the project, courtesy of Chris Norris, the Mercyhurst University Web master: