The Erie County Historical Society and Preservation Erie would like to commend Gannon University for their recent investment in one of Erie’s landmark mansions, the George Black House. Gannon’s investment in the home shows the school’s continued commitment towards its historic downtown location, as well as historic preservation.
The investment is in sharp contrast to the recent demolition of 329 West 6th Street. Both the ECHS and Preservation Erie believe that there could have been a better approach to the adaptive re-use of the property that would have balanced individual property rights with the best interests of the community.
The Erie County Historical Society and Preservation Erie believe that Erie’s continued loss of properties such as 329 West 6th adversely affect Erie’s neighborhoods, and the overall health of our community. Countless cities and municipalities across the country have integrated historic preservation principles into their economic development strategies with positive results. In fact, recent studies in Pennsylvania show quantitative increases in property values for home located within historic districts. One example, from a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission study, shows house prices in Pittsburgh’s Mexican War Street Historic District appreciated at an annual rate of 4 percentage points higher than the average in surrounding Pittsburgh neighborhoods, and in the year immediately following the District’s expansion in 2008, house prices increased by 15 percent.
Over the next year, the ECHS and Preservation Erie will be working on a joint strategy to further educate the public about the values of historic preservation, as well as further develop the necessary plan to turn dialogue into action.
More about the About the George Black House:
Built in 1908, this former TKE fraternity house is constructed in the Colonial Revival style. It is made out of stucco and has the keystone symbol above the windows. This structure once housed George I. Black and his wife Laura. Black was the President of the Walker Foundry Company. Gannon University purchased the property from the TKE fraternity in 2013.